It's the easiest shot in basketball right? It's 15 feet away, straight on,
unguarded. Should be a piece of cake, even if you're fat and unathletic like
Well, it's not a piece of cake if you play at the University of Illinois.
If you caught the end of the Illini's 83-79 double overtime loss to Indiana
Thursday, your stomach had to turn watching local product Shaun Pruitt clank
free throws that would have won the game for Illinois both at the end of
regulation and again at the end of the first overtime.
This isn't the first time the Illini have lost this season due to foul
And to quote former Bulls coach Phil Jackson, we will call them 'foul' shots
because that's how the Illini shoot them.
A quick review of Illinois' 14 losses this season revealed that seven of
them can be directly tied to horrible foul shooting.
Here's a look at the sorry seven: 1) 10-for-22 in a 78-72 overtime loss
against Arizona. Trent Meacham's miss in the final minute allowed the
Wildcats to force overtime;
2) 16-for-26 in an embarrassing 61-58 overtime loss to mid-major Miami
3) 12-for-22 in an absurd 60-58 homecourt defeat to Tennessee State, capped
by two Pruitt misses in the final seconds that could have tied or won the
game for Illinois;
4) 13-for-21 at Indiana, including 8-for-15 in the second half to let a
nine-point lead slip away;
5) 10-for-21 in a 74-67 loss to Purdue. Meanwhile, the Boilers hit 22-for-28
and rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit;
6) A laughable 7-for-19 in a 51-41 loss to Michigan State. Yet another
second-half lead slips away;
7) Thursday against Indiana, when Pruitt went 1-for-7 as part of an 8-for-17
Let's not just pick on Pruitt (54 percent) here, as he is not the only one
on that team who struggles. Starters Brian Randle (57 percent) and Chester
Frazier (55 percent) are also well below par.
Only Meacham (80 percent) and reserve Rodney Alexander (71 percent) are
shooting respectably at the line.
As a team, the Illini shoot an anemic 60 percent and rank 319th among
Division I teams.
Seven losses, all directly attributed to poor foul shooting.
That's the difference between 10-14 and no hope for the postseason and 17-7
with a reasonable shot at an NCAA tournament bid.
Memo to all our local high school players: Your coach is right when he
preaches the importance of free throws.
It really can make or break a season. Just ask Shaun Pruitt and his Illini