Canyon Barry continues family's under-handed free throw legacy

Sun Dec 20, 2015 4:50am EST
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By Steve Ginsburg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - College of Charleston guard Canyon Barry says he is accustomed to hearing the cheeky chants from the crowd when he steps to the free-throw line and launches the shot under-handed.

"I get used to it," said Barry, a son of basketball Hall of Famer Rick Barry, who was the godfather of under-handed free throws. "When I'm on the road, people see the first shot and do double-takes. You can almost hear them saying, 'What was that?'"

At a recent game at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, the crowd roared in unison, "granny shot, granny shot" as Barry lofted his first few free throws. The chorus, however, quickly lost steam when Barry drained shot after shot.

Barry said he is puzzled why more players do not make the switch from the traditional free-throwing shooting style to under-handed, a throwback to the early days of basketball and rarely seen today.

"That's something that has surprised me and my dad for a long time now," Barry said. "Especially when you have people shooting 40 or 50 percent. Why not give it a shot? There's no harm in trying when you're shooting that poorly. I'm not sure if it's a pride thing or people just don't think they can do it."

Barry converted from the traditional free throw as a junior in high school and each season has felt more comfortable with the under-handed shot. This year, as a junior at the South Carolina college, Barry is hitting an impressive 87 percent of his free throws through the team's first nine games.

Sounding every bit the physics major he is, Barry said the under-handed motion is more fluid than the traditional shot. He said there is less movement and less use of body joints, which makes it an easier motion to repeat.

"There are less hinges that you have to account for," he said. "It just comes in with a lot softer trajectory. It goes right over the front of the rim. That aids in being a really soft shot. You get a lot of good rolls, a lot of good bounces."   Continued...

Charleston Cougars guard Canyon Barry takes an underhand free throw in the first half of the game against the Cal State Fullerton Titans in Anaheim, California, in this December 1, 2015 file photo.  Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports/Files