Centers' Little Helper

Dennis Hans, unrenowned former adjunct professor of mass comm and American foreign policy, relentlessly exposed the Bush administration’s “techniques of deceit” BEFORE the Iraq war, when it could have made a difference (see links). For decades he has fought baseball’s discrimination against lefthanded infielders and promoted his ingenious clockwise solution. A lifelong advocate for a flowing, non-brutal, flop-free NBA, he now champions the cause of its second-class citizens: the centers.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Ben Wallace is lost at the line; I can help
For four years I’ve been explaining to Ben Wallace and various coaches and executives with the Detroit Pistons that Ben Wallace can’t get better at the free-throw line by practicing his current method. He needs either a drastic makeover, or dramatic improvements in the mechanics, timing and rhythm of his current method.

Ben is shooting a woeful 42 percent for the season, and about 20 percent over his last 7 or so games.

The current coach, Flip Saunders, has his good qualities, but stroke analysis is not one of them. Here’s what he said recently about Ben at the line, as reported in the Detroit News:

Saunders said that Wallace's free-throw shooting is baffling because he has decent form on the shots and in practice, he makes 70 and 80 percent of them. "My theory is, he plays so hard defensively and he's so intense, his body gets so wound up that when he gets to the free-throw line, he can't get that calmed down. You need to be relaxed to shoot free throws. But he is so intense on the one end, that when he goes on offense, it's like he just stepped out of the weight room."

Saunders is wrong about the form and unaware that most every bricklayer shoots decently in practice, where you take shots in bunches rather than two at a time a couple times a game with an hour between trips to the line.

Here's how I described in 2002 Ben's release, comparing it to two fine shooters who Ben resembled somewhat in form, but not in substance; the analysis still applies:

Whereas Reggie Miller and Doug Christie’s wrist-based release and follow through are the culmination of a simple, unified, rhythmic, whole-body delivery, Ben’s wrist snap is an abrupt, isolated movement largely divorced from his body.

That’s not Ben’s only problem, but it is the most significant one. He can’t fix any of them if he’s listening to coaches who tell him his form is fine and that his free-throw woes stem from the intensity with which he plays — as if he were the only NBA player who busts his butt.

Ben has a couple of weeks before the playoffs start to make some progress. I’m available to help. A respectable percentage in the playoffs — 60 to 70 percent — could be the key to a Pistons championship.

Ben, Flip or Joe Dumars are welcome to drop me a line at hans_d@popmail.firn.edu

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