By LARRY VAUGHT
He’s held the record for 40 years, but former Kentucky All-American Kyle Macy says he never really fretted about freshman Tyler Herro breaking his single season free throw accuracy record.
“He is doing a great job. A lot of guys don’t spend time working on foul shooting like they should,” said Macy, the starting point guard on UK’s 1978 national championship team. “I don’t know how much time he spends, but he’s got it down with what he’s doing. He gets the ball, shoots it and doesn’t think about it.”
Whatever Herro does, it’s working just like it did for Macy when he always followed his ritual of wiping his hands on his socks before shooting.
“I think the routine puts you in a trance and you block out everything and do not worry about the crowd,” Macy said. “When you put in shots and see results, you get more confidence. You want to be the one fouled because you have confidence to help your teammates. The more you make, the more confidence you get.”
Herro is shooting 94 percent (87 of 93) at the foul line and made two in the final seconds of Friday’s NCAA Tournament win over Houston to put UK into the Elite Eight.
Herro has made 70 of his last 72 free throws, including 36 in a row before he missed one Friday. Of couse, he came back to hit two in the final seconds to seal the win.
Macy holds the single season free throw record at 91.23 percent (104 of 114) from the 1979-80 season. He also made 115 of 129 (89.1 percent) in UK’s 1978 national championship season . Macy is second on the career all-time free throw percentage list at 88.98 percent (331 of 372) behind Jodie Meeks’ 88.99 percent (299 of 336). Travis Ford is third at 88.19 (239 of 271).
It’s no fluke that Herro has his name in that elite company. The Kentucky freshman says he often works on his shooting three times a day. Even if anyone told him to consider getting more rest, he wouldn’t.
Herro cannot really remember when he couldn’t make free throws.
“You just step up there knowing that it is going to go in once you see a few drop. You never really think about missing at the line,” Herro said. “You just have to believe you will make them and then you will.”
Macy said that’s the only attitude a player can have.
“If I missed one early in a game, I didn’t miss again. I would get upset with myself and focus even more,” Macy said. “I didn’t have many games where I missed more than one free throw. It’s 85 percent mental. The rest is about your routine.”