SH Blog: NCAA freshmen struggling with shot selection

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 A different kind of adjustment

Texas 6-10, 270-pound freshman Cameron Ridley catches the ball near the right block and rushes his arms up toward the rim for what should be an easy dunk or lay-in.

What used to be a quick two points and a second without thought in high school has morphed into a play-by-play that now reads “Cameron Ridley missed layup,” in college

Ridley isn’t the only center struggling at the offensive end early in his freshman season (Note: to be fair to Ridley and post players in general, we recognize it is on the big men’s teammates to get the big men the ball.)

“I look at Nerlens Noel, I look at Cauley-Stein, and they get moved off the block because their lower bodies aren’t strong enough,” explained Greenberg. “If you put one of those guys up against Patric Young [Florida], or even a player with a year’s difference – look at Alex Len last year compared to this year. It’s the process of understanding, it’s the speed of the game and he also put on 30 pounds so now he can play through contact. Young players can’t play through contact. Once those guys mature and develop, then they’re strong enough to play through contact.”

If only putting on weight was Ridley’s dilemma.

While most big men around the country enter college and try to put on weight, Ridley has already shed in excess of 35 pounds at Texas. This season, he is trying to shed even more weight. According to his coach, it’s a struggle.

“You know what I respect about Cam? He’s really trying to lose weight and it’s hard to continue to lose weight and play,” said Longhorns coach Rick Barnes. “I was proud of him tonight because he played hard and tried to fight through it, but that’s a guy that’s trying to really watch what he’s eating and it’s tough. He had five turnovers tonight and I’m not sure I’d give them to him. I’d give them to the guards because they threw him passes that he’s not gonna catch. He’s trying, he really is trying. He’s spending a lot of extra time doing a lot of things, but again, it’s hard because he’s trying to get weight off and he’s not trying to wait until the end of the season.”

Ridley’s attempt to get into better playing shape is admirable, and Barnes is impressed with the freshman’s work ethic and attitude, even offering up that there is a certain NBA superstar center who would like to have the touch Cam has.

“He can shoot the ball, believe it or not,” Barnes said following his team’s disappointing 64-41 loss to Georgetown. “I’ll tell you one thing: Dwight Howard would like to have his touch. Now he’d like to have a few things that Dwight Howard has, but Dwight would like to have his touch, and he hasn’t learned to use it yet.”

Ridley has a lot of potential and it should be interesting to see whether he can stave off the extra weight while gaining muscle. If his body can do a 180-degree turn from where it was when he started in the preseason, Cam will be all over NBA scouts radars as he enters his sophomore season.

And nobody will be more proud than Barnes.

Jeremy Bauman is a 2011 Indiana University alum who is an aspiring scout and shooting coach. After covering last June’s NBA finals for this site, he’ll be blogging for SheridanHoops.com during the 2012-13 basketball season. Follow him on Twitter.

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