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Friday, December 16, 2011
Mo Cassara can drain his free throws

By Eamonn Brennan



Do you guys remember free-throw contests? Growing up in Iowa, our local Knights of Columbus always held a regional free-throw shooting contest. It was always the best gym day of the year. If you made the most free throws out of 25 in your class, you moved on to "regionals," whatever those were. (Free throw "regionals" were a little like the "regionals" on "Glee." Or if you're into good television, "Community.") In any case, it was a cutthroat competition, the pinnacle of pressure at the age of 12. I loved it.

Maybe that's why I find the College Insider "Shots From The Heart" competition to be so very awesome. It's a free-throw contest that, rather than featuring 12-year-olds, features college men's head and assistant coaches. The coaches face off in two separate 64-man brackets, shooting each other out of the bracket and slowly advancing to the Final Four, all for the sake of raising awareness of heart disease and benefiting the Skip Prosser Foundation and the American Heart Association. They're even talking a little trash along the way.

Hofstra coach Mo Cassara is participating and documenting his free throw shooting efforts via YouTube, and while watching a coach shoot free throws in an empty gym doesn't sound exciting, it actually kind of is -- especially as Cassara, who makes his final 19 free throws and 23-of-25 overall, gets hot down the stretch.

Twenty-three free throws apparently wasn't enough to get Cassara that much-desired childhood free throw trophy, but if he shoots like this -- especially in the later shots, which are weighted more heavily in the scoring -- he just might make a deep run. Cassara dropped Creighton coach Doug McDermott in the first round, and he'll advance to play Loyola (Md.) coach Jimmy Patsos in the round of 32. Patsos' first-round victim? None other than Kansas coach Bill Self.

Let's give some credit to the coaches involved. There's a lot on the line here. For one, it's competition with rival colleagues. Bragging rights are everything. And if a coach shoots particularly poorly at any point, he could stand to lose that vague sense of corrective superiority he wields when he forces his players to run extra sprints after missed free throws at the end of practice.

In any case, this field [PDF] appears to be wide open. Why? New Mexico coach Steve Alford, a lifetime 89.3 percent free throw shooter in college, is nowhere to be found in this field. With Alford out of the way, surely this is anyone's competition. Perhaps even Cassara's.