Big guys and free throws seems to be a match made in hell, and not just in the NBA. The number 5 ranked Louisville Cardinals lost to the un-ranked Villanova last night 73-64. The biggest disparity between the Cardinals winning and losing was their free throw percentage. They shot 50% from the line going 12 of 24, while the Villanova shot 75% from the line. Rick Pitino blamed their lost on poor free throwing shooting, and went on to compare his team to Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal.
“It was really a simple answer to why we lost,” Pitino said. “Basically we were Dwight Howard or Shaquille O’Neal. We came down we had a six-point lead and it could have been eight. Could have kept coming down and extending it but our free throws were a turnover. Very simple answer for why we lost. Our foul shooting was despicable.”
I’m sure Laker fans aren’t happy with the comparison, but the numbers don’t lie. Dwight Howard is shooting 50% from the line with a career average of 58%. Former Laker center Shaquille O’Neal was no better who coincidentally shot 52% from the charity line. Although Laker fans may not like Pitino statements, he was accurate in his account of the notorious duo being horrendous when it comes to shooting free throws.
Pitino is obviously disappointed in the effort of the team, so sometimes harsh comparison works to motivate a team. The loss to Nova came a few days after Cardinals lost at home to Syracuse, resulting in them losing their number 1 ranking. They also lost the free throw battle at that game too. There is no question the Cardinals will be getting really acquainted with the free throw line during practice.