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Men work on foul shooting ahead of Oregon road trip


Freshman forward Reeves Nelson has been adept at drawing fouls this season, but, like the rest of his UCLA teammates, has been inconsistent at the free-throw line. The Bruins are shooting 61.3% from the charity stripe, the worst number in the Pac-10.

Freshman forward Reeves Nelson has been adept at drawing fouls this season, but, like the rest of his UCLA teammates, has been inconsistent at the free-throw line. The Bruins are shooting 61.3% from the charity stripe, the worst number in the Pac-10. Nathan Kwok


The free-throw line on a basketball court is 15 feet from the backboard.

During a foul shot, a player shoots what amounts to a mid-range jumper, a shot that during the flow of the game a player would love to get. Except with a foul shot there is no defender, which would appear to be a plus.

It won’t get any easier on Thursday when the Bruins travel to Oregon’s McArthur Court, where the backboards have been known to shake due to the crowd’s intensity.

At Monday’s practice, Howland had each player take 100 foul shots and gave a number they had to reach. Big men had to make at least 70 shots, while guards were required to make at least 80.

There were some highlights. Freshman forward Reeves Nelson, who has been the recipient of much of the criticism for the Bruins’ foul-shooting woes, made 85. Sophomore guard Malcolm Lee made a streak of 45 consecutive shots.

Yet there were those who did not meet the requirements, and were therefore forced to shoot an additional 100 shots.

“We need all our players to continue to improve there,” Howland said.

At the team’s weekly press conference, a number of the players were simply at a loss for words as to what the cause of their free-throw shooting struggles were.

Said senior forward James Keefe: “I don’t have an answer for that. We work on it a lot in practice but that’s another important emphasis.”

Said senior guard Michael Roll: “I don’t know. Maybe just the nervous jitters of the game but I really have no idea what the free throw problem is.”

In Saturday’s win against Washington State, the Cougars employed the “Hack-a-Shaq” technique, intentionally fouling the Bruins’ lower-percentage shooters. Roll said he was kind of shocked to see it, yet emphasized the need for the players to make their foul shots down the stretch.

“We started to make them towards the end,” Roll said. “That was big for us, but when we miss them that’s huge because it’s just like a defensive stop.”

Charges a point of emphasis

Three days after the Bruins’ game against Washington State, the players were still talking about the charges taken and how ecstatic Howland was.

During the game, Howland was visibly excited to see players such as Keefe and Nelson take charges, walking out to near mid-court emphatically clapping his hands.

“That was probably one of the things that he was most proud of about that game,” freshman forward Tyler Honeycutt said.

Nelson, who saw Howland’s reaction when he took a charge and was on the bench celebrating when Keefe took one, said he wasn’t surprised to see such a response from his coach.

“Before the game on Saturday, he kept talking about it everyday in practice so I would expect he would be a little excited when it actually happened,” Nelson said.

Nelson added that taking a charge is largely psychological.

“You kind of just have to make a concerted effort to do it,” Nelson said. “In your mind you really have to think about it because it’s not really instinct to want to get run over.”

Injuries update

Sophomore center J’mison Morgan (torn quadriceps) is not expected to play this weekend … Sophomore guard Jerime Anderson went for 30 minutes without contact on Monday.

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