Jordan Williams walks into Maryland’s practice each day with an immediate plan.
Make 10 free throws. In a row.
That doesn’t mean nine, miss one and then make another. It means 10 straight.
That can lead to some frustration. Then again, going 10-for-25 at the line in his first seven games wasn’t any fun either.
The freshman was 9-for-13 in his free throw attempts in Sunday’s loss to Villanova. That might not be the territory where he’s presumed to be automatic, but it’s still much closer to the sort of percentage Maryland wants from its newcomer.
“I think just putting in the time and effort before and after practice to work on free throws was very important for me,” Williams said. “In the Indiana game, I was like 1-for-6. I was terrible from the line. I think coming into [the Villanova] game I was more relaxed shooting free throws. I knew it was a big game. I knew every shot I took was going to be important. I wanted to make sure I made them.”
So what prompted the difference? Williams simply thinks it was a matter of fretting about his technique too much as he stepped to the line. Coach Gary Williams advised him to just shooting the ball and place it over the rim.
“When you make the first one, it’s easy,” Jordan Williams said. “But when you miss the first one, you have to get the rhythm and feel the right touch to the ball. Everybody misses free throws every single day. Kobe Bryant, even he misses free throws. You’re not going to make them all.”
That acceptance helps, but so does visible progress. At 6-foot-10, Williams is going to find a way to the foul line with some frequency throughout his career.
Getting closer to 75 percent or so at the foul line —- certainly a reasonable target for a post player —- is only going to make those many visits to the line less harrowing for the Terps.
“He looks like he should be a good shooter facing the basket,” Gary Williams said. “His stroke, there’s no big flaw. I think sometimes the focus in college is a little different than a high school game, playing in front of 15,000 or whatever. It changes the free throws for guys until they get used to that.”
—- Patrick Stevens