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The NCAA tournament field is always littered with a wide array of styles, skill sets and unique quirks. The 2017 tournament has concentrated a number of those quirks on the free throw line.
Odd free throw routines or shooting forms are nothing new in basketball at any level, but March Madness has highlighted a few especially innovative or unusual ones. And while some work, others… uh, not so much. Here’s a look at the five that have stood out so far:
CANYON BARRY, FLORIDA — THE GRANNY
Canyon Barry takes after his father, Rick Barry, one of the best free throw shooters in NBA history. Rick shot 90 percent in the league using an underhanded motion that was as silly-looking as it was effective. Canyon’s motion is nearly identical:
Florida's Canyon Barry shoots free throws like his dad. pic.twitter.com/AyP4NMH7ZZ
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 16, 2017
Barry has employed the underhanded free throw throughout his college career, and has darn near perfected the craft. He shot 73 percent and 72 percent as a freshman and sophomore, respectively, at College of Charleston. His junior year at Charleston, he improved to 84 percent. He transferred to Florida for his senior season, and now shoots 88 percent. He made 42 free throws in a row at one point during the season, a Florida record.
So if the underhanded motion works for Barry, why don’t more players use it? Good question. More players should use it. But many don’t because they think they’re too cool or manly to be seen shooting like a granny. And that’s stupid.
Barry is one of the few players who has success with an unusual motion, though:
DEMETRIS MORANT, FLORIDA GULF COAST — THE … YUCK
Grade this form: 1-10 pic.twitter.com/4fez59w8Ec
— Five-Star Basketball (@5starbasketball) March 17, 2017
Morant and Florida Gulf Coast were eliminated by No. 3 seed Florida State in the first round.
Free throw percentage: 56.9
D.J. JOHNSON, KANSAS STATE — THE SHOOTING POCKET
Johnson has a really interesting strategy. He bounces the ball twice. On his third bounce, he then puts a little more behind the ball as he pounds it into the ground so it comes up above his head. He then catches it as he would a pass from a teammate, in his shooting pocket, and puts it up:
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) March 18, 2017
Johnson is not a good long-range shooter, but hits almost 70 percent of his attempts from the line. His self-pass seems to be working.
The Wildcats won their First Four game against Wake Forest, but lost to sixth-seeded Cincinnati Friday night.
Free throw percentage: 69.5
GREG ALEXANDER, MOUNT ST. MARY’S — THE SHIMMY
Alexander isn’t the first person to do this, but its nonetheless unusual:
Shimmy shaking at the free throw line pic.twitter.com/hrQN7yJxAh
— Dylan Jones (@DylanSladeJones) March 17, 2017
Mount St. Mary’s put up a fight against top-seeded Villanova, but was trounced in the second half.
Free throw percentage: 60.9
CHRIS WRAY, MOUNT ST. MARY’S — THE ONE-HANDER
Um… What? Why?
— FanSportsClips (@FanSportsClips) March 17, 2017
Free throw percentage: 31.2
More March Madness coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Missed call, technical foul on Chris Collins doom Northwestern’s comeback bid
• ‘Northwestern crying kid on a roller coaster of emotions during loss to Gonzaga
• Kenny Smith becomes middle man in Charles Barkley-LaVar Ball feud