Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Can The Crowd Effect Free Throws?

Here's an interesting column about how the Mavs are using science to distract opposing free throw shooters.

The Mavericks sprang into action at their next opportunity. During last week's game against the Celtics, three members of the Mavs' "Hoop Troop" worked the crowd behind the backboard. Boston shot 18 for 30 from the line, or 60 percent, about 20 percent below their season average. The Mavericks kept up their suddenly stout free-throw defense in the next game, holding the Bucks to 17 for 27 from the charity stripe—63 percent. But in the game after, on Wednesday night, the Lakers were seemingly undeterred by Hoop Troop staffers waving big red arrows to direct the crowd's stick movements: They shot 21 for 27, or 78 percent, pretty much the league average. In total, though, the project has been a success. Mavericks opponents have shot 8 percent below the league average since adopting my strategy. More important, Dallas has yet to lose a game.


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