We've heard it repeatedly: Modern players aren't as skilled as their predecessors. They don't devote sufficient effort to mastering the fundamentals. They'd rather dunk the ball or play in a pickup game than master skills such as making free throws.
This conclusion is certainly repeated often enough. In ACC circles, North Carolina's much-discussed struggles at the line this season -- .613, 333rd of 345 Division I schools through Dec. 26 -- reinforce a sense that foul shooting is in decline. Not to mention the inexactitude of Virginia (No. 303, .637), Maryland (No. 305, .636), and Wake Forest (No. 315, .628).
But we'd do well to avoid making sweeping judgments.
A quick glance at the top of the ledger reveals some rather interesting movement in quite a different direction.
For each ACC club that sucks wind at the line, as Bobby Cremins would put it, another is among the best in Division I. Four of the 18 most accurate foul-shooting teams in the country are members of the ACC - Boston College, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh.
Three of the four are not just excelling in relation to the rest of the NCAA, but against their own standards. With around one-third of the season gone, BC, Clemson, and Pitt are converting free throws at a higher rate than any teams in the history of their respective schools.
This achievement is particularly notable at Clemson, which has previously posted seven of the 11 worst team foul shooting performances in ACC history.
ACC's Top Five Free Throw Shooting Teams In 2013-14 Compared To Historic School Highs
(Bold Indicates Better Than School Record, Through Games Of Dec. 26)
|School||FT Pct., 2013-14||Gs||Top FT Pct.||Top Season|
|2||Boston College||.789 (229-289)||12||.761 (229-289)||1970 (11-13)|
|7||Clemson||.769 (160-208)||11||.734 (264-496)||1982 (14-14)$|
|16||Notre Dame||.760 (196-258)||12||.776 (567-731)||1986 (23-6)|
|18||Pittsburgh||.756 (220-291)||12||.748 (741-991)||1991 (21-12)|
|65||Duke||.731 (201-275)||11||.791 (665-841)||*1978 (27-7)$|
|* ACC record.
$ Member of ACC at time.