In the 1930s, Stanford's Hank Luisetti ushered basketball into the modern era by discarding the two-handed set shot for the one-handed jumper. More than fifty years later, junior Todd Lichti has revived the Stanford basketball tradition. Not singlehandedly, mind you, but with both hands.
Is he lefthanded? Yes, if he's bowling, batting or tossing a football. No, if he's writing or playing tennis. But sometimes Lichti mixes it up. He once pitched the first four innings of a Little League game with his right hand and finished up with his left.
On the hardwood, Lichti likes to loft his jumpers righthanded, but passes, rebounds and shoots inside with either hand. His ambidexterity makes him particularly lethal inside; he routinely flips the ball from one hand to the other in midair to give himself an uncontested shot. "Some guys have to cut to the basket with their right hands forward," Lichti says. "I don't really think about which side I'm going to. I just go at whatever's given me."
Two years ago Lichti became one of two players—USC's Cliff Robinson, now with the Sixers, was the other—ever to be named All-Pac-10 as a freshman. Last year, playing out of position at small forward, Lichti was a unanimous repeat selection, having averaged 17.6 points and 5.7 rebounds a game. This season he will play the off-guard position, and he should get the ball more often and be confronted by smaller defenders.
Stanford, with its musty basketball tradition—the Cardinal has not been to an NCAA tournament since 1942—seems an unlikely place for Lichti to have enrolled. But he had a 3.98 grade point average at Mt. Diablo High in nearby Concord, Calif., and is interested in getting more out of college than a better jumper. Still, he calls the NBA his "first priority" and switched majors—from industrial engineering to economics—to give himself more time for basketball. He also has his own key to Maples Pavilion so he can practice at any hour.
But even Lichti's penchant for hard work was tested this past summer when he shoveled horse manure on a ranch near the Stanford campus. "They described it as a real character-building job," he says. For those who must know, Lichti shoveled righty until he tired, and then lefty.
The ambidextrous Lichti is a handful for Stanford's opponents to guard.