Mentality, rhythm helps men's basketball lead country in foul shooting
Knocking down free throws has not been a problem for the Central Michigan men’s basketball team this season.
The Chippewas are No. 1 in the nation from the foul line — shooting 80 percent (333-of-416) through 22 games.
“We push getting to the free throw line every day,” said head coach Keno Davis. “We know we need to get to the basket and it’s really what we’ve done every year. While we do rely on the 3-point shot, we’ve always relied on free throw shooting just as much.”
Since Davis took over as head coach before the 2012-13 season, he hasn't had a team shoot under 71 percent from the free-throw-line. Last season was his highest to date with a 79.1 percentage (603-of-762).
“While this may be the best free-throw-shooting team we’ve ever had, we were third in the country a season ago,” Davis said. “At the end of games, there isn't as many made shots as there is free throw tries when your ahead. If we can do that more, in theory it should pay off more late in games and the season.”
Senior forward Luke Meyer, who is shooting 92 percent (23-of-25) from the line, believes his experience has played the biggest factor into mastering a free throw shot.
“A lot of it comes with age for me," Meyer said. "I’ve been here for four years and shot a lot of free throws so the crowd doesn't bother me anymore. You step out from a high school court onto this big college court, it’s a little intimidating, but now it’s pretty easy.”
Senior guard Josh Kozinski, who shoots 94.1 percent (16-of-17) from the free-throw-line, said it helps the team’s overall chemistry knowing they can all shoot it.
“When it comes down to crunch time, I’ve seen how important those shots can be over the past four years,” Kozinski said. “Luckily here it hasn't been an issue and we all believe in each other, but you can’t take that for granted.”
The only two players on CMU’s roster to attempt more than 100 free throws this season are transfer guard Shawn Roundtree (88-of-104, 84.6 percent) and senior forward Cecil Williams (86-of-113, 76.1 percent).
“For me it’s all about the routine," Roundtree said. "I have a flat shot and I have to remind myself to get the ball up and over the rim.
“You can win and lose games off of these (free throws).”
With only nine regular season games left, Davis believes his team can stay hot from the free-throw-line.
"If you start thinking about what percent your at you might start missing," Davis said. “If we keep up what we’ve done so far at the free throw line, we will be in good shape.”