Tigers hope to build shooters from within

Brad Brownell

Wade Spees

CLEMSON -- Dashaun Wood is evidence shooters can be built.

Wood was a scorer but poor shooter as a junior at Wright State. Wood could create and finish off the dribble, but faulty jump-shot mechanics limited him to make only 22 threes, and shoot 27 percent from beyond the arc, as a junior. When Brad Brownell arrived in 2006 he saw a player who could become something more.

"I told him 'Hey man, to become an elite player, to become a guy who is really going to make money overseas and maybe play in the NBA you have to be able to shoot,' " Brownell said.

"We tweaked his shot a little bit, it wasn't a lot, and he worked his tail off that summer."

Brownell had Wood make two changes: he moved the ball slightly to the right of his face and lessened the influence his left hand had on his release. The result? Woods made 59 threes and shot 37 percent from three as a senior. In the Horizon League tournament title game, Woods made five threes to lift Wright State over Butler and into the NCAA Tournament.

Are shooters born or are they created? Brownell says it is a little bit of both and the Clemson coach hopes he can improve his roster's shooting efficiency in a similar way because the 3-point and foul lines must be allies of non-powerhouse programs.

With just average shooting percentages this season Clemson (9-8, 1-2 ACC) would be 3-0 in ACC play as the Tigers travel to Miami (9-6, 0-2) at 7 tonight (RSN).

Instead, Clemson made only 9 of 35 3-point attempts (25 percent) in losses to Boston College and Duke, also limited to making 22 of 39 free throws (56.4 percent).

Clemson is shooting 32.5 percent from 3 for the season, which if it holds would be the team's lowest mark since 2005-06 (32.1 percent).

The must-have trait of a good shooter in confidence, Brownell says, confidence which Clemson has lacked at times this season.

"Wood was supremely confident," Brownell said. "There are guys that have bad form but make shots because they have shot thousands of shots their whole life and they are confident people. There are other guys with pretty good form that don't make as many shots. … We had our team shoot a lot of free throws (Monday) but end of the day it's still a guy going up there and feeling good about his shot."

Still, even the most confident player can be undone by faulty mechanics.

Brownell said ideal mechanics include feet, hips and shoulders aligned at the target, the shooting elbow bent at 90 degrees beneath the ball and a release above the shooter's head.

Brownell is rebuilding freshman guard Rod Hall's mechanics but with most shooters Brownell will make only slight adjustments.

"You try to tweak what they have," Brownell said. "You don't try to make everybody (the same)."

The six freshmen on the roster can look no further than Andre Young to see how a player can develop into a shooter. As a freshman in high school, Young had an ugly, knuckleball rotation to his shot.

"(Shooting) is probably more of a learned skill," Young said. "My left hand really affected by ball. My (prep) coach showed me a technique to keep my left hand out of the shot."

Young says he took 300 to 500 shots a day to perfect the form. He became an excellent spot-up shooter and made 39 percent of his 3s last season. Shooting is also good shot selection, something Young said the team needs to remedy quickly in ACC play.

"Move (the ball) around a little bit and they are defenses are more likely to make mistakes," Young said. "We have to make the turnaround right now."