Memphis Coach John Calipari has been on every sports talk show that will have him on saying that free throw shooting is overrated and not a big deal. I think he is the only one that truly believes those words. Allow me to offer up some examples of how Coach Calipari is just fooling himself. Allow me to use my beloved West Virginia Mountaineers, a Sweet 16 team, as the example.
On January 26, West Virginia lost to Georgetown by one. Georgetown shot 80% from the line while WVU shot just 52 percent. That came three nights after almost giving a game away to in-state rival Marshall. With 8:30 to go in the game WVU held a 12 point lead. The inability to make free throws allowed Marshall to make a comeback. WVU finished 11-28 (39 percent) from the line.
West Virginia then traveled to Pittsburgh in early February and lost by one on a buzzer beating three. WVU was 41 percent from the charity stripe while Pitt shot 62%.
Three games, two losses because of poor free throw shooting. I can hear the Memphis fans now..."Well we lost only once and we are still playing unlike you." OK, that is fair but not being able to make free throws against Xavier cost WVU a shot at the Regional Final.
But just for you Memphis fans out there I offer these three examples.
Against UAB in February Memphis escaped by one. UAB shot 90 percent from the line while Memphis shot just 52 percent. Hardly anyone will argue that game should have and could have went in UAB's favor.
In the second round of the NCAA tournament Memphis nearly gave the game to Mississippi State because of poor free throw shooting. The Tigers were 46 percent from the line. Mississippi State for the most part just went into a "hack-a-tiger" mode and nearly pulled out the upset.
Still not convinced. Okay lets go with the one that you actually lost at home to Tennessee. 47 percent from the line in a game that close through out. Memphis makes three to four more free throws than they more than likely go undefeated.
I know that Coach Calipari has to say that free throw shooting is no big deal to the media mainly for his kids confidence. But what scares me is that I think that he actually believes the words that he is saying. So to you coach I say this, free throw shooting is a huge deal and it will cost you games.