Last year Pete Gillen's top player, sophomore God Shammgod,
hightailed it to the NBA. It works both ways.
--PATRICIA M. MACKENZIE, New York City
Your SCORECARD item about the departure of Providence coach Pete
Gillen (April 13) was overdue criticism of a system that rewards
coaches for leaving their programs with no notice but punishes
players for seeking better opportunities. Kentucky coach Tubby
Smith wasn't criticized in 1997 when he left Georgia high and
dry after agreeing to a new contract, although he had yet to
sign it. I wonder how Georgia recruits felt when they heard him
exalt in March, "These are the greatest kids on earth," as he
cut the Wildcats' championship net down.
MICHAEL MOGIL, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Gillen and other bolting coaches should be penalized by the NCAA
for breach of contract. Make them sit out a season, as
transferring players must.
JOHN M. WILLIAMS, Morristown, N.J.
Although you recognized Knicks center Chris Dudley's rightful
place as the worst of the current foul shooters (Everything You
Always Wanted to Know About Free Throws, April 13), you failed
to mention his historical significance. Because of three lane
violations, Dudley once missed five straight free throws during
one trip to the line.
MARC REINER, New York City
I would like to add to the list of alltime bad free throw
shooters Jim Brewer of the Cavaliers, Lakers, Pistons and Trail
Blazers. I still can remember Joe Tait, the Cavs' venerable
radio play-by-play announcer, calling Brewer's attempts: "Brewer
at the charity stripe to shoot. He sights it, shoots it...air."
DAVE BECKMAN, Parma Heights, Ohio
You failed to mention that conditioning is a crucial factor in
making free throws. Anyone can stand in a gym and drill foul
shot after foul shot, but it would be a better gauge to have him
do a suicide sprint or two, to simulate game fatigue, and then
try some free throws. Larry Bird and Reggie Miller, two players
known for their conditioning, are also two of the best free
throw shooters of all time.
JOHN SUGRUE, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
You left out the importance of visual skills. Athletes spend
hours exercising their muscles and practicing their moves and
routines, but if the visual information is inaccurate, it can
throw off the body's timing and cause performance levels to drop.
BARRY L. SEILLER, M.D., director, Vision Performance, U.S.
bobsled, luge, ski and snowboard teams
Vernon Hills, Ill.
It is no wonder NBA players can't shoot better from the foul
line when you have coaches who feel that too much discussion and
practice increase pressure and worsen shooting. Give me a break!
We are talking about pros.
By the way, my world record for consecutive free throws is
5,221, not 2,036, as mentioned in the article.
TED ST. MARTIN, Jacksonville
How come some pro teams struggle to make two thirds of their
free throws, yet Wisconsin-Oshkosh, a Division III team that
doesn't offer athletic scholarships, can be successful on 81.8%
of its foul shots during the 1997-98 season, setting a division
record in the process?
JOHN RAAP, Oak Creek, Wis.
ELIMINATING THE DH?
Both Tom Verducci and Grant Wahl raise excellent points about
whether the designated hitter should be phased out (SCORECARD,
April 6). How about abolishing both the DH and batting by
pitchers? We would be spared the artificial nature of the DH and
the ineptitude of pitchers at the plate. As a bonus, with only
eight batters in the order, we would get to see Mark McGwire
have 12.7% more at bats.
RONALD R. HOLDEN, Kingston, Ont.
In response to Keith Olbermann's remarks on the shortsightedness
of George Steinbrenner (INSIDE BASEBALL, April 13), let me
remind Olbermann that the current New York Yankees lineup
contains such former Yankee farmhands as Derek Jeter, Andy
Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Bernie Williams.
H. PIZUTELLI, Garwood, N.J.
COLOR PHOTO: DICK RAPHAEL [Ernie DiGregorio shooting free throw]
ERNIE D: BLESS, KISS, SWISH
The article concerning free throw rituals (Shooting Two: Rituals
of the Modern Player, April 13) brought back memories of
Providence star and 1973-74 NBA Rookie of the Year--he shot
90.2% from the foul line that season--Ernie DiGregorio (left).
All of the neighborhood kids would follow Ernie's ritual before
each shot: Bless yourself and kiss the crucifix on your chain.
JOHN MARSHALL, Barrington, R.I.