In the usual scrum to over-analyze the outcome of a single game, free throw shooting has been a hot topic this morning in the aftermath of UConn’s 60-54 victory last night in the national championship game. Kentucky went just 13-24 from the charity stripe, including missing their last three. Apart from James Young, who went 8 for 9, the ‘Cats threw up a collective brick, going just 5 for 15. UConn, by contrast, continued its torrid tournament free throw shooting, converting all ten of its free throws in the final game.
Julius Randle went just four for seven last night. On the season, he was pretty good from the line, hitting 71% of his free throws on the season. In the four previous tournament games, he was 16 for 20, 80%. Did he only go 4-7 Monday night because he was nervous, or inexperienced? Maybe. But it’s at least as likely that he went 4-7 because – shit happens.
UConn was an outstanding free throw shooting team this season, converting nearly 78% of their attempts. In the tournament, they upped that to an almost unreal 88%, including the perfect title game.
Is this a mark of intestinal fortitude? Of experience? Of heart? Or did they happen to get hot at the right time? I don’t know. Neither does anyone else.
All credit to UConn. They had a great run and I am very happy that Kevin Ollie won a title.
But for those focused on free throws as a key to the win, I am not sure there is anything in particular to analyze. Of course, the free throws were part of the final outcome. But is there anything deeper to be learned from that fact, apart from the insight that it’s good when basketball teams hit more of their shots, including free throws? Not really.