Las year Pete Gillen's top player, sophomore God Shammgod, hightailed it to the NBA. It works both ways.
—PATRICIA M. MacKENZIE, New York City
Your SCORECARD item about the departure of Providence coach Pete Gillen (April 13) was overdue criticism of a system that rewards coaches for leaving their programs with no notice but punishes players for seeking better opportunities. Kentucky coach Tubby Smith wasn't criticized in 1997 when he left Georgia high and dry after agreeing to a new contract, although he had yet to sign it. I wonder how Georgia recruits felt when they heard him exalt in March, "These are the greatest kids on earth," as he cut the Wildcats' championship net down.
MICHAEL MOGIL, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Gillen and other bolting coaches should be penalized by the NCAA for breach of contract. Make them sit out a season, as transferring players must.
JOHN M. WILLIAMS, Morristown, N.J.
Although you recognized Knicks center Chris Dudley's rightful place as the worst of the current foul shooters (Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Free Throws, April 13), you failed to mention his historical significance. Because of three lane violations, Dudley once missed five straight free throws during one trip to the line.
MARC REINER, New York City
I would like to add to the list of alltime bad free throw shooters Jim Brewer of the Cavaliers, Lakers, Pistons and Trail Blazers. I still can remember Joe Tait, the Cavs' venerable radio play-by-play announcer, calling Brewer's attempts: "Brewer at the charity stripe to shoot. He sights it, shoots it...air."
DAVE BECKMAN, Parma Heights, Ohio
You failed to mention that conditioning is a crucial factor in making free throws. Anyone can stand in a gym and drill foul shot after foul shot, but it would be a better gauge to have him do a suicide sprint or two, to simulate game fatigue, and then try some free throws. Larry Bird and Reggie Miller, two players known for their conditioning, are also two of the best free throw shooters of all time.
JOHN SUGRUE, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
You left out the importance of visual skills. Athletes spend hours exercising their muscles and practicing their moves and routines, but if the visual information is inaccurate, it can throw off the body's timing and cause performance levels to drop.
BARRY L. SEILLER, M.D., director,
Vision Performance, U.S. bobsled, luge, ski
and snowboard teams
Vernon Hills, Ill.
It is no wonder NBA players can't shoot better from the foul line when you have coaches who feel that too much discussion and practice increase pressure and worsen shooting. Give me a break! We are talking about pros.
By the way, my world record for consecutive free throws is 5,221, not 2,036, as mentioned in the article.
TED ST. MARTIN, Jacksonville
How come some pro teams struggle to make two thirds of their free throws, yet Wisconsin-Oshkosh, a Division III team that doesn't offer athletic scholarships, can be successful on 81.8% of its foul shots during the 1997-98 season, setting a division record in the process?
JOHN RAAP, Oak Creek, Wis.