Shot reinforcement a critical follow-through


COLLEGE PARK -- Andy Enfield was in one of his zones, a streak during which for minutes at a time every shot whispered through the Cole Field House basket.

Walt Williams noticed. The former Maryland star who went on to the Sacramento Kings was shooting in Cole himself, without nearly the success of Enfield.

Who was this guy who couldn't miss? Enfield introduced himself and said he was a shooting coach who conducted camps and clinics and gave private lessons. At Johns Hopkins, he had set the all-time NCAA free-throw shooting record of 92.5 percent by making 431 of 466 from 1987 through 1991.

That's an NCAA record for Division I, II and III. In the pressure of 12 postseason games over four seasons, Enfield made 56 of 57 free throws.

"My first season here we went 6-18 and clearly needed someone to light it up," said Hopkins Blue Jays coach Bill Nelson. "Andy was my first recruit."

Light it up Enfield did, scoring 2,025 points and shooting 47 percent from the field.

Apprised of those credentials, Williams was at first skeptical when Enfield said he could help him. After all, the numbers had been compiled at Division III Hopkins.

"Then he made every shot a second time that day at Cole," Williams said. "Cool, I thought. I figured then maybe he knew what he was talking about."

That was last summer, following Williams' rookie season with Sacramento, when his field-goal and free-throw percentages were 43.5 and 74.2, respectively. It would be nice to report that his shooting improved last season after instruction from Enfield. For a while, it did.

"After a week or two, I felt confident in Andy's teaching abilities," Williams said. "But when I went to camp, I fell back into my old habits."

In February, Enfield watched Williams when the Kings visited the Washington Bullets. They talked, leading Williams to pay Enfield's expenses for a trip to Sacramento for three days of instruction.

Again his shooting briefly improved, but without Enfield's constant reminders the rest of the season, Williams finished with field-goal and free-throw percentages of 39 and 63. As a team, the Kings shot 44.8 and 71.8.

"It's understandable that Walt would slip back into his old habits without daily reinforcement," Enfield said.

They are together again now, working regularly at Cole this summer. Williams believes in Enfield.

"People always told me I didn't have enough rotation on the ball, except my senior year in college when I shot a lot," Williams said, referring to his 46.6 field-goal percentage in his last season at Maryland. "But in the NBA a guy seldom gets to shoot a lot so that he gets into a groove with the right form and technique. That's where Andy comes in."

All players are familiar with coaches' time-honored shooting advice -- good balance, elbow in, follow through. That's not always enough, and Enfield makes a living by finding minor flaws.

"Andy looks at a player's shot and can pick up on a minor flaw," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "He gets results."

A flaw isn't minor, Enfield says, if it makes you miss.

He tries to eliminate all technical errors. Walt Williams leaves his left hand on the ball too long and therefore pushes too much with it, leading to a sideways rotation because the follow-through isn't straight.

"Last summer, Walt saw results right away, on his jumper as well as free throw," Enfield said. "It becomes a matter of constant reinforcement."

A bachelor, Enfield is incorporated (All Net Inc.) and makes a decent living as a shooting coach, working mostly in Baltimore, Pennsylvania, Washington and Virginia. In August, he will conduct an All Net Shooting Camp for grade school and high school youngsters with the Golden State Warriors' Billy Owens.

"I'll also be working with Billy on his shooting, and maybe another two or three NBA players," Enfield said. "There are only a few shooting coaches in the NBA, but most teams have a definite need for them."

Walt Williams, for one, can attest to that.

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