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Meet assistant Matt Brady, Maryland men’s basketball’s ‘shot doctor’

The Xfinity Center is Maryland men’s basketball assistant coach Matt Brady’s doctor’s office, and the players are his patients.

For the past 17 years, Brady has been called the “shot doctor” because of his specialty in fixing players’ shooting form. During Brady’s time in College Park, players like senior guard Eric Ayala and junior forward Donta Scott have become frequent clients with the hope of improving their jump shot.

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“He changed my college basketball career,” Ayala said. “There are small intangibles in a shot that you would never know. We spent countless hours in the gym, working on mechanics and stuff. That alone has made me believe in the shot that he was trying to create for me.”

Brady’s coaching career has ranged from being an assistant at Rhode Island, La Salle, Wagner and Saint Joseph’s to head coaching stints at James Madison and Marist. Brady, who played in college at Siena from 1983 to 1987, was a director of player personnel for the Terps during the 2017-18 season and became an assistant the following season.

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Brady, 56, earned the “shot doctor” moniker during his final year as an assistant coach at Saint Joseph’s in 2004 when the Hawks went undefeated in the regular season, shot 40.4% from the 3-point line and reached the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight with National Player of the Year Jameer Nelson and guard Delonte West.

During their postseason run, Brady said the late Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Bill Lyon called him the “shot doctor” and the name stuck ever since.

“That’s the thing that I’ve become most noted for, but I’ve been a skills development coach since I’ve been in college and out of college,” Brady said. “The most noteworthy thing people are aware of with is shooting. I learned a long time ago how to evaluate individual strengths and weaknesses. I try to help players get better at individual skills.”

For Ayala, Brady reminds him of Mr. Miyagi from 1984′s “The Karate Kid.”

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“The weird mechanics that Miyagi had the karate kid doing, [Brady] would have you doing something that you would be like, ‘Man, what am I doing?’” Ayala said. “But it translates.”

Maryland senior guard Eric Ayala, shooting against Hofstra on Friday, said assistant coach Matt Brady "changed my college basketball career."
Maryland senior guard Eric Ayala, shooting against Hofstra on Friday, said assistant coach Matt Brady "changed my college basketball career." (Karl Merton Ferron/The Baltimore Sun)

In the film, Mr. Miyagi had the main character, Daniel LaRusso, do basic chores to learn karate. Brady followed a similar pattern, but instead of making Ayala paint a house, he made him pass the ball to the rim repetitively.

“It was my freshman year [and] our first time getting together,” he said. “He was like, ‘Don’t make it. Just pass the ball to the rim.’ I guess he was trying to formalize my shot. As a player, you want it to happen so fast. I wasn’t the worst shooter in the world, but I could make shots.”

Ayala shot 43% from the field and 77.4% from the free-throw line as a freshman. Last year, Ayala was 43.7% from the field and 83% from the charity stripe, as he led the team with 15.1 points per game.

Brady said his training focuses on changing the shooting stroke by working close to the basket before expanding to different parts on the court. “Sometimes it could take a month or three to four months before they ever shoot a 3-point shot,” Brady said.

When Scott came to Maryland, he wasn’t known for being a shooter — he shot 31.6% from beyond the arc. Brady said he made Scott’s shooting stroke more compact, eliminating movement and motion, and as a sophomore Scott improved to 43.5% from the 3-point line.

Maryland assistant coach Matt Brady, pictured in 2018, earned the “shot doctor” moniker during his final year as an assistant coach at Saint Joseph’s in 2004 when the Hawks went undefeated in the regular season.
Maryland assistant coach Matt Brady, pictured in 2018, earned the “shot doctor” moniker during his final year as an assistant coach at Saint Joseph’s in 2004 when the Hawks went undefeated in the regular season. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

“He helped me keep my shot more consistent,” the forward said. “He’s helped a lot of players on this team.”

Graduate transfer point guard Fatts Russell said he was a streaky shooter when he arrived at College Park. Now, Russell believes Brady has made him more confident in his jump shot.

“The shot doctor is the right word for him,” said Russell, a transfer from Rhode Island. “He sits there. He watches your jump shot for the first week, and then right after that week he gets right into trying to fix it.”

Brady and Russell go way back. When Russell played at Imhotep Charter in Philadelphia, Brady attempted to recruit the speedy point guard to La Salle. Brady has also known Maryland junior forward Qudus Wahab, a Georgetown transfer, since he was in high school.

“When it became known that they went into the [transfer] portal, it was easy because there were people around those guys that knew me and knew my love for being on the court and helping guys get better,” Brady said. “It worked out rapidly.”

Brady loves being in the gym. If he had it his way, he would have a couch inside Xfinity Center with his name on it. When he’s is not in the gym, he relies on the team’s managers to continue his work.

“They’ve watched me in the fall work with guys individually, and they know exactly what I’m looking for,” Brady said. “All they have to do is show me a video, and I will say let’s keep working on this.”

The Terps haven’t shot well from the 3-point line, knocking down 25.4% of their attempts from deep through five games. Brady might have to go into his doctor’s bag to help them get back on track.

“As a player, you got to buy into it,” Russell said. “He’s not going to force you, but he’s going to give you the ingredients to do it, and then it’s up to you to put that into your game.”

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