Geno has long been a proponent of widening the lane and moving the 3-point line back. Maybe he would like to see the free throw line moved back as well. The only weakness the Huskies have shown in winning their first six games by an average of 40.8 points has been their inability to make consistently make free throws.
They were an abysmal 8-for-24 Thursday against BYU. Yet, they still scored 80 points for the fourth time this season and shot at least 52 percent from the field for the fifth time. Of course, Geno voiced his point to the Huskies in the locker room following the game.
“I’ve never had a team go 8-for-24 before,’’ Geno said. “That’s hard to do. If you try to miss on purpose you’d make more than eight. Wouldn’t you? I think so. I told Maya, when the ref gives you the ball from now on say, `Mr. Referee or Ms. Referee, I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to shoot this 15-footer. But would you mind if I step behind the 3-point line and took a 3-pointer because Coach told me my chances of making the 3 are much greater than me making a free throw. So do you think it would be possible for me to do that?’ I told her to check with the ref next time.’’
Tina Charles said Geno told the team that there is “a magnetic force that’s going through us, and that’s the reason why we can’t make the free throws.’’ Whatever it is, it’s bizarre.
The Huskies are shooting 57.0 percent (53-of-93) from the free throw line. That’s good for last in the Big East. But, hey, they’re playing outstanding free throw shooting defense. Opponents are shooting only 47.5 percent (28-of-59) from the stripe. And BYU increased that percentage by making 5 of 10 Thursday. Now that’s really pathetic.
Meanwhile, UConn leads the Big East in field goal shooting at 52.9 percent and is third in 3-point shooting at 37.1. So maybe Geno has a point. Let the Huskies move back from the standard free throw line. Maybe they like having a defender in their face rather than an open look at the basket with idle players standing on either side of them.
“We were 8-for-24, 33 percent,’’ Mel Thomas said. “That’s pretty bad. He just said that’s a lack of maturity. It’s not like people can’t shoot free throws. He said we just have to be more focused.’’
Right now, the issue of poor free throw shooting is light-hearted. But it won’t be a laughing matter if it costs the Huskies dearly in the NCAA tournament in March or April.