There are a lot of components that help make up a good offense. Ball movement, shot selection, floor spacing, overall talent; all of these things are important.
Nine out of ten coaches would probably agree that not a whole lot beats free throws. There are so many positives to getting to the free throw line. Free throws stop play, put the other team in foul trouble and are high percentage shots.
Que in Robert Morris, who could use some offensive help at the moment. The Colonials are averaging 65.3 points per game in seven games, which is almost ten points below the NCAA average at this point in the season. Their 97.4 points-per-100-possessions is in the bottom-third (274th overall) in college basketball.
I’ve detailed earlier how turnovers and poor rebounding has hurt the team. I think experience and Aaron Tate can solve a lot of those problems. An Andy Toole team is just not going to continue turning the ball over at the rate they are.
What I do find concerning is RMU’s free throw numbers. According to KenPom, RMU’s free throw rate of 24.4 percent is 343rd in the country. There are only 351 D-I teams.
Free throw rate is simply a ratio. How many free throws do you take for every shot attempt? Right now, RMU is taking one free throw for every four shots. That’s very, very bad. For reference, Virginia Tech leads the country with a free throw rate of 60.9 percent.
Robert Morris has never come close to reaching that point but has always had an offense in the 35 to 40 percent threshold.
The offense is feeling the effects. RMU really has just one guy capable of getting to the rim at will, and that’s Kavon Stewart. His problem, of course, is he’s shooting 53.3 percent from the line and he’s never shot better than 63 percent from the stripe in his life. Despite his poor shooting numbers, Stewart is actually a really good example of playing aggressive and drawing contact. He’s attempted 28 free throws to 40 total shots.
The point of all this? It would benefit RMU a lot if the likes of Rodney Pryor and Isaiah Still, two guys who have really carried the offense, to show a little more aggression. Even driving to the basket and getting no-calls can open up the offense.
Right now, teams likely don’t respect RMU’s ability to get to the rim. Without a true post presence, defenses can really work to take away the three ball, which will ultimately carry the Colonials offensively again.
All of this is doubly true for Elijah Minnie. I wrote out my theory the other night on how I think teams will begin to play him defensively. He could really benefit from using some ball fakes to get to the rim. If he gets fouled in the process, even better.
Saturday was a good start. The Colonials shot a season high 18 free throws, making 14 of them. They took 53 total shots, giving them a free throw rate of 33 percent. That’s much more on-par for what would be an acceptable ratio.
The Colonials were able to flip the script for one game as the team getting to the line and hitting their free throws. Can they do that consistently? For the sake of their offense, they better hope so.