Two Fridays ago, Jonathan Holton, who three days earlier picked up a technical foul after 17 seconds of the game at Kansas State and played just six minutes, trotted onto the floor for practice and went past some teammates. One waited for Holton to get by. “Foul,” he said. Another teammate did the same. Holton and the rest of the gang got the gag, because, you know, Holton seemingly can’t not foul you.
He trotted onto the practice floor Friday wearing a headband. This time it was Bob Huggins who jumped all over him, with good intentions, of course, and he asked if the white accessory was going to change Holton’s luck. A few others piled on and everyone laughed, because, you know, Holton is having a nightmarish time shooting 3-pointers.
He was 8 for 45 for the season before the Baylor game. Everything went wrong in the Baylor game, including Holton trying a 3 and missing badly. Huggins told pulled Holton aside, updated the season statistics and told the junior college transfer that he wouldn’t shoot another 3 until he got in the gym more regularly, taught himself how to make 3s again and then re-earned the privilege of shooting 3s in a game by making them consistently in practices.
I’d like to say that’s where we’re at with Holton this season, but that’s not the best illustration.
Shooting takes patience and persistence. You have to train your body to memorize the motion. The muscles have to know how to load and fire. You can’t think about these things in a game. They have to happen. Mechanically speaking, Holton is a mess. How else can you explain this? The operation is off, and Huggins keeps telling Holton he has to spend time outside of practice teaching his mind and body how to do it properly.
“It’s neuromuscular integration, it’s muscle memory,” Huggins said. “When you come out and shoot it the wrong way in practice, you’re probably going to shoot it the wrong way in the game. When you come out and shoot it the right way in practice, you’re probably going to shoot it the right way in a game. It’s a matter of ingraining it in the neuromuscular system. That takes practice. It takes doing the the right thing time after time after time after time after doing the wrong thing time after time after time.”
More simply, Huggins said Holton isn’t in the gym enough and has to be in there much more. This is not a one-day or even one-week thing. It’s requires a lot of time and a lot of a person. Huggins and Holton seem to have an understanding of not only what is wrong, but how to go about fixing it.
And apparently, it’s that obvious.
“He knows what his problem is,” Huggins said. “He told me the other day his sister called him and told him. Even she knew. That’s how bad it is.”
Now, the Holtons are an athletic bunch. The mom was a star college basketball player. One brother plays football for the University of Cincinnati. One sister was a decorated track and field performer at Louisiana Tech. A younger brother is supposed to be an up-and-coming high school star. It stands to reason then that someone in that household could rise to shot doctor.
“If she told him what he told me she said, because he already knew what I thought, then I guess it’s painfully obvious if she saw it,” Huggins said. “Or she’s a very astute basketball person.”