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Missed free throws naturally frustrate Hoiberg

AMES — During his 10-year career as a player in the NBA, Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg was an 85 percent free throw shooter. It is understandable why his team’s recent struggles from the charity stripe are maddening for The Mayor. 

The Cyclones, who lost 80-73 at Kansas State on Saturday night, missed 10 free throws while going 20-for-30 from the charity stripe. Over the last five games, Iowa State has been a 62 percent free throw shooting team. Iowa State went 8-for-17 on freebie attempts in last Wednesday’s 83-66 win over West Virginia.

When asked about free throws during his Monday press conference, Hoiberg simply sighed before attacking the problem. To simplify what has been a significant problem, as a coach/former player, Hoiberg feels like he is walking a fine line in how to critique his team.

“Some of our guys are very mental,” Hoiberg said. “If you say something to them, they think more and you don’t want that. You don’t want them to think more, you want them thinking less when they step up to that line.”

Not every Cyclone is like that. Take Georges Niang, who went 4-for-9 from the charity stripe against West Virginia, as an example. Niang’s form has been off.

“Georges on a couple of them was really leaning,” Hoiberg said. “We corrected that in practice yesterday. He made every shot because his body position was straight as opposed to leaning.”

And then, there is the mental aspect of attacking the problem.

“I showed them a rim the other day in practice,” Hoiberg explained. “You can fit two balls in that rim to try to see mentally, to visualize that it is pretty big up there. Hopefully we shoot it better. We are going to need to.”

Practice makes perfect.

“I’m going to shoot with a couple of them today before practice and a couple of them after practice,” Hoiberg said. “We’ll do it again at tomorrow’s shoot around. It all helps with the ultimate goal of putting that ball in the basket.” 

Iowa State practiced in Ames on Monday afternoon. The Cyclones will take off for Waco Monday evening and battle the Bears at 6 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN2.