College of Charleston guard Anthony Stitt was walking along King Street looking for a place to eat when he spotted teammate Canyon Barry and his father, Hall of Famer Rick Barry.
UNC-Greensboro at College of Charleston
UNC-Greensboro at College of CharlestonWHEN: 7 p.m.WHERE: TD ArenaTV: WMMPRADIO: WTMZ 910-AMRECORDS: College of Charleston 15-7, 7-3 in SoCon; UNCG 6-14, 4-5).NOTES: The Cougars are coming off a 72-59 win over Appalachian State on Wednesday night. The Cougars lead the all-time series, 20-9, with UNCG, but lost both games (78-63 and 73-66) a year ago to the Spartans. Charleston leads the league in field-goal percentage (44.5 percent. The Spartans have two of the league’s top scorers in junior Trevis Simpson (1st, 19.9 ppg) and senior Derrell Armstrong (5th, 15.4 ppg).
Rick Barry, one of the greatest scorers in NBA history, stepped away from his son and approached Stitt.
Stitt was in the midst of the worst shooting slump of his young career. In the Cougars’ two previous games — against Georgia Southern and Davidson — the sophomore missed 21 straight shots from the floor. Stitt was receiving unsolicited shooting advice from everyone, including his mother.
Barry offered a simple tip that day. He told Stitt to never doubt himself and things would turn out just fine.
“He said if he missed 15 straight shots in a game, there was no doubt in his mind that he was going to make the next shot he took,” Stitt said. “I thought about that and realized he was right.”
Stitt’s struggles began Jan. 17 at Georgia Southern, where he went 0-for-13 from the floor in a 51-47 loss to the Eagles. Two days later, he went 0-for-8 against Davidson in a 77-68 loss.
This was in stark contrast to what Stitt had been doing most of the season. A month earlier, Stitt was leading the SoCon in 3-point shooting (42 percent).
The most frustrating part for Stitt was that he wasn’t taking bad shots. He wasn’t forcing shots like so many players do who are struggling to score. The ball just wasn’t going in for him.
“It’s not like he was missing those shots on purpose,” said College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik, whose team hosts UNC Greensboro tonight at 7. “Of the 21 shots he missed, maybe one or two were questionable shots, but overall he was playing within the offense. Anthony was still giving great effort, the ball just doesn’t wasn’t going in.
“What can you do? Yell at him? It got to the point where I just didn’t even talk to him about it. He’s too good of a shooter and eventually he was going to break out of it.”
His teammates never lost faith in him.
“I know what kind of player Anthony is,” said backcourt teammate Andrew Lawrence. “I just told him to keep on shooting. It didn’t matter how many he missed, I was confident he was going to make the next one.”
Stitt was trying not to let his shooting woes creep into the rest of his game, but it was difficult. The Charlotte native felt like he was letting his teammates down.
Two days after his conversation with Rick Barry, the Cougars played The Citadel at TD Arena. Stitt missed his first shot, but then drained a 3-pointer on his next attempt.
“I felt like the lid had finally come off the basket,” he said.
Stitt, who is second on the team with 36 3-pointers, made 2 of 4 3-point shots against the Bulldogs. He followed that with three 3-pointers against Wofford last Saturday.
“I’m not all the way back, but I’m close,” Stitt said. “A couple more games like that and I’ll feel like I’m all the way back. It’s all about confidence. Like he (Barry) said, I just have to believe the next shot is going in.”
College of Charleston's Anthony Stitt changes course with The Citadel's Lawrence Miller closing in at TD Arena on Thursday January 24, 2013. (Wade Spees/postandcourier.com)×
College of Charleston's Anthony Stitt (22) drives to the basket past Chattanooga's Z. Mason (30) and Sam Watson (4). (Brad Nettles/postandcourier.com) 1/12/13×