HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - One of the easiest shots in basketball isn't always so for the two Division I men's college basketball teams in West Virginia.
West Virginia University and Marshall University find the charity stripe quite stingy this season. The Mountaineers and Thundering Herd find themselves near the bottom of the Division I free-throw shooting rankings.
And if Saturday's Capital Classic is as beset with fouls as it has been in previous years - and considering the way fouls are being called this year, there's a good chance - both teams will put in even more time to improve before the 7:30 p.m. clash at the Charleston Civic Center.
The Mountaineers didn't shoot poorly from the line in their 80-76 loss to 20th-ranked Gonzaga. WVU made 17 of 22 free throws. But that performance was an aberration in what's been a shaky season at the line. By shooting 77.3 percent from that spot against the Bulldogs, that bumped the team up to 234th in Division I. The Mountaineers shoot them at a 67.4-percent clip.
If you're looking for the Herd, you'll need to look a lot further down the list.
Marshall is tied for 339th in the nation, shooting just 59.8 percent. It's one of just 13 teams in Division I shooting worse than 60 percent from the line following Tuesday night's games.
WVU Coach Bob Huggins and Marshall Coach Tom Herrion said their respective teams' problems at the charity stripe aren't for a lack of trying.
"We make 100 a day," Huggins said after WVU's win over Duquesne, where the Mountaineers missed 14 of 34 free throws. "I get every day how many they make, how many it takes for them to make 100, rather. Like I said on the radio, we should be an 80-percent free throw shooting team. Those perimeter guys all ought to be 80 percent. They are every day. They make 100 or more. They're more like high 80s."
Herrion likes his team to shoot at least 100 a day as well, though the Herd's practice setup - four baskets for 14 players - isn't very conducive to doing that during practice. So they'll put up plenty of free throws outside of official practice sessions.
Despite that, Herrion said that practice free throws and in-game free throws are two very different animals.
"You can't simulate what a game is really like," he said. "You have to go through those experiences to gain experience.