One Shot From The Championship

By Eric D. Graham
Updated: April 15, 2008

NORTH CAROLINA — It’s the simplest shot, but the hardest to make. One shot from the same spot. It’s known as the free throw, but what makes this 15-foot shot without a defender so difficult to make?

Is it simply mechanics or a mental block? Maybe, we should ask the Memphis Tigers about the psychological pressure of making this easy basket?

Memphis, in fact, were shooting a horrible 59.6% as a team from the free throw line before losing 75-68 in overtime to the Kansas Jayhawks back on April 7 in San Antonio.

The Memphis Tigers, in fact ranked 326th out of 328 Division I schools in free throwing shooting throughout the entire season.

Despite Memphis’ obvious weakness, head coach John Calipari downplayed the issue that would later prevent his 38-2 Tigers, which is the most wins in a season by a team in NCAA history, an opportunity to win a national championship.

Ironically, Kansas University’s first coach Dr. James Naismith, who has been given credit for inventing the game of basketball, first established the first free throw in 1893. At the time, however one free-throw counted as three points.

Now that’s a lot of pressure.

With 1:15 remaining in regulation, Memphis found themselves back at the free throw line, the one shot from the same spot with no defender.

But Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose buckled under the pressure by missing four out of five free throws before Kansas’s Mario Chalmers drilled a 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left on the clock sent the game to overtime.

Douglas-Roberts was so frustrated with himself after missing his free throws that he slammed the basketball down on the floor. Luckily, his display of disappointment didn’t result in a technical foul.

Maybe, Coach Calipari should have listened to all the critics, and sportswriters who warned him in advance that missed free throws would cost him the championship game.

After Memphis lost to Kansas, I found myself screaming at the television as if I were Temple’s retired head coach John Chaney shouting…”Remember this, when I see you, I’m going to kick your a**” This is why they call it March Madness!!!