Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
3/27/2008 06:08:00 PM
Some Old-Fashioned Ribbing
HOUSTON -- The Memphis-can't-shoot-free throws thing is more than just a media talking point. It's now fair game as a topic for coach-to-coach ribbing.
Texas coach Rick Barnes was being interviewed by pack of local TV reporters on Thursday when Tigers coach John Calipari happened by and jokingly interrupted the scene. Barnes took the opportunity to offer Cal a job:
"Hey, coach, I'm running a camp in Austin," said Barnes, "and I need somebody to come in and teach free throws."
Calipari's rebuttal referenced D.J. Augustin's late-game performance against Miami on Sunday in Little Rock: "I think your point guard shot that airball."
Augustin did nearly give the 'Canes a chance to pull off a miracle comeback in the game's final seconds when he left a crucial shot about a foot short. And the Tigers are a horrible free-throw shooting team: They rank 339th in the country from the charity stripe, at 59.2 percent. It's a problem that Calipari doesn't really think is a problem -- mostly because Memphis has been bad at free throws for the past three seasons.
"With four minutes to go, we made the free throws we need to make," Calipari said Thursday. "Now, we'll miss some, but they don't play a factor. They make the game closer. I sweat a little bit. But [the players] are looking at it like, 'Coach, you trust us, we'll do what we have to do.' So the big deal about it, that's fine. If you look at our team, there's so many other good things to talk about how we play; how we play defensively, how we swarm, how we play offensively, it's different. People that don't know it, think that it's just throw the balls out and shoot layups. And that's fine, too."
Any team hoping to beat the Tigers by strictly winning the free-throw battle probably isn't going to fare too well. As we learned in Wednesday's scouting reports of the No. 1 seeds -- from actual opposing assistant coaches -- sealing up Memphis' driving lanes and preventing Dorsey-and-Dozier damage on the offensive glass is far more important.
I'm glad that Cal threw it back at Coach Barnes. Texas has absolutely no room to talk noise about FT shooting. It nearly cost them the Miami game and the Baylor road game, and it allowed Wisconsin to win that one in Austin back in December.
But while we're discussing the Memphis and Texas struggles from the charity stripe, I really loved a moment with Joey Dorsey at the line in Little Rock last weekend...
He shoots a free throw with the sun peeking through a curtain in section 117, makes it, and then complains to the refs. The game is stopped for 30 seconds or so while they try to pull the curtain closed and the ignorant Memphis fans are screaming things about the refs trying to ice their player. Then, with the curtain closed and the sun blocked, Dorsey bricks the second attempt.