Nick Nurse learned im­por­tance of shoot­ing rep­e­ti­tion at early age

The Peterborough Examiner - - SPORTS - LORI EWING

TORONTO — Nick Nurse is thank­ful now that he had a high school bas­ket­ball coach who preached shoot­ing ad nau­seam.

“We had lots of form shoot­ing. It used to drive us bonkers,” said Nurse, who at­tended Kuem­per Catholic in Car­roll, Iowa. “When we were younger, 14 or 15 years old, we didn’t un­der­stand why we had to do it ev­ery day, go up and down and bomb threes ... We were shoot­ing off the wall with no bas­ket and all of that stuff.”

The Toronto Rap­tors coach par­layed those te­dious shoot­ing drills into one of his first jobs out of col­lege at North­ern Iowa.

“I was run­ning shoot­ing camps for a long time,” Nurse said Tues­day. “I al­ways think that the more you teach some­thing, the bet­ter you learn it.”

That teach­ing has turned the Rap­tors into the third best team in the NBA in true shoot­ing per­cent­age which mea­sures two and three-point per­cent­age plus free throws. It also is ob­vi­ous in the long bombs OG Anunoby was knock­ing down in the Rap­tors’ 132-96 rout of Char­lotte on Mon­day night.

Anunoby scored a ca­reer-high 24 points — in­clud­ing four threes — through just three quar­ters. He sat out the fourth af­ter be­ing whacked in the eye by a flail­ing Ni­co­las Ba­tum el­bow. Anunoby is shoot­ing 53.2 per cent from dis­tance this sea­son, up from just 33 per cent last year.

“He’s put the work in,” Rap­tors guard Fred VanVleet said. “I re­mem­ber when he first got here, they would put him on the side court and shoot with him ev­ery­day, all day, form shoot­ing. And to see him go from there to now where he shoots it, and he’s shoot­ing side-steps and pump­fake threes, and to see a game like last night where he got hot, it’s re­ally good to see.

“(Shoot­ing) is one of the few things where if you work on it, you can see di­rect re­sults, fast, and that’s some­thing that we’ve seen with OG.”

Asked who the team’s ‘shot doc­tor’ is, VanVleet pointed to Nurse.

The Rap­tors’ OVO Ath­letic Cen­tre is tricked out in high­tech an­a­lyt­ics equip­ment, in­clud­ing the Noah Bas­ket­ball sys­tem which pro­vides in­stant feed­back on shot measuremen­ts such as the arc and depth of shots.

“There are a lot of things we can pull im­me­di­ately,” Nurse said. “We try to eval­u­ate af­ter each game. If there’s any­thing that’s re­ally leap­ing out to us on straight­ness, depth, arc, are they tak­ing the right shots. Some­times that’s a big fac­tor, too: How open are they? We have a lot of guys on our staff, too, that are good at it, that are ’shot doc­tors.’”

Like Anunoby, Pas­cal Si­akam wasn’t ex­actly lauded for his strong shoot­ing when the Rap­tors signed him in 2016. But the 25-year-old is tak­ing 6.4 three­p­oint shots a game this sea­son, al­most four more than last year. He made three of six against the Hor­nets.

And ac­cord­ing to Nurse, the best is yet to come for the ath­letic for­ward who won last sea­son’s most im­proved player award.

“I say it all the time, with Pas­cal, he shoots the ball pretty well. But he’s still 18 months or 24 months away from be­ing re­ally good,” Nurse said. “There’s some years that go into it ... you guys have seen a lot of guys that have come into this league and all of a sud­den they’re 30 years old and they’re un­be­liev­able.”

The end­less shoot­ing work showed in Ter­ence Davis’s game on Mon­day. The rookie scored 16 points in a four-minute fourth-quar­ter out­burst, con­nect­ing on four of his five shots from be­hind the arc.

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