When UC Riverside officials selected John Smallwood to shoot from half court during halftime of a women's basketball game over the weekend, he surprised everyone by attempting the shot with his back to the basket.
"I turned around and a guy in the stands shouted, 'Wrong way,'" Smallwood said. "I was like, 'Just wait.'"
Smallwood apparently had reason to feel confident. The UC Riverside director of men's basketball operations banked home the shot to the surprise of the crowd, winning a set of new tires for his car as a result.
The reason Smallwood shot it backwards is because he feels more confident doing it that way than taking a conventional shot. He's been practicing backwards half-court shots since his days working as a student manager on Jim Wooldridge's staffs at Kansas State in the early 2000s.
"Ever since then, I've been shooting it backward," Smallwood said. I practice it every so often before or after practice here at UC Riverside, and I've gotten kind of good at it."
Smallwood is the second contestant affiliated with UC Riverside's men's team to win tires at halftime of a women's game. Ex-player Aaron Scott also hit from mid-court earlier this season, though he used a more traditional approach.
The new tires aren't of much use to Smallwood at the moment, so he's hoping to negotiate for a slightly different prize.
"If they're nice enough, maybe I'll get something else like a few oil changes," he said. "Something that's out of my pocket that I don't have to worry about."