AMERICAN FALLS – Chandler Coombs doesn’t care much what other people think.
In his podcast, “Revisionist History,” author Malcolm Gladwell noted that’s referred to as a low threshold. In simpler terms, Gladwell says, if you have a zero threshold, “you’re someone who doesn’t need the support or the approval or the company of others to do what you think is right.”
Coombs is the emphasis to this podcast callback because there was an entire episode devoted to what Coombs did on Tuesday night -- an action that many with higher thresholds have scoffed at. Guys like NBA Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain.
The podcast is all about underhand free-throw shooting. Something Coombs did in Snake River’s 64-36 win over American Falls on Tuesday. Something that made NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry famous. And something that Chamberlain excelled at for one season -- the year he scored 100 points in a game -- before he decided the act itself was too dumb.
"What’s interesting is that Barry actually has the same initial reaction as Wilt Chamberlain. “I’m going to look like a sissy,’” Gladwell says. “But he thinks about it and he decides it doesn’t bother him, or rather, his drive to be a better shooter is stronger than his worry about what others think of him.”
Just after New Year’s Day, Snake River had a wide lead over Filer late into a lopsided non-conference game. While Coombs was at the free-throw line, Filer coach Rob Anderson berated the referees and earned himself a technical. That meant Coombs needed to shoot his final free throw before the Panthers would get two more from the tech.
Maybe because the game was lopsided, maybe because Coombs was already at the line, maybe because some teammates were begging for it, but Snake River coach Robert Coombs waved his hand and told Chandler he could take all of the charity-stripe shots. They all missed. Everyone, including Chandler, chuckled.
The bigger concern loomed.
“I was shooting pretty poor from the line. If I recall, it was like 20% shooting overhand,” Chandler Coombs said. “Then one day at practice, my friend Mitch (Lindsay) told me to try it out and now I’m shooting a really high (percentage) from the line … I have confidence shooting it now. It just feels comfortable.”
Coombs is hitting over a 60% clip from the line at the moment. And for a physical forward who isn’t afraid to draw contract, that may add up to a lot more points come season’s end. On Tuesday, though, Coombs only took one free throw.
He grabbed the ball and created a pendulum as he swung the ball between his legs and towards the hoop. It landed like butter on the rim but rolled out. Luckily, Panthers’ guard Keegan McCraw was able to get in position while the ball was on the rim, grabbing the offensive board and finishing with a layup.
“The shot is so much softer. He’s giving it a chance to go in where before, he was all over the place,” Robert Coombs said. “My philosophy is, you don’t get points for the ones that look good, you get points for the ones that go in. So if that works for him, I don’t care.”
It was in the third quarter and the game was all but over when Chandler attempted the “granny shot.” It kind of felt like a joke, a funny shot to grab a few laughs in a game that’s been won. It wasn’t the first time he tried it.
Chandler Coombs first implemented it two weeks ago in a 19-point home win over Kimberly. Since then, the 6-foot-1 senior has used his free seventh period to hop in the gym and practice his new technique.
“Just working on underhand free throws before practice, get like 100-200 shots up.” Chandler Coombs. “My teammates around me supported me, so that helped.
“But as long as it goes in, I don’t care what other people think.”
Because Chandler Coombs has a low threshold.
Snake River (14-1, 1-0 3A District 5) plays at Shelley on Saturday.
American Falls (1-14, 0-13A District 5) travels to Marsh Valley on Thursday.
SNAKE RIVER 64, AMERICAN FALLS 36
Snake River 13 22 13 16 – 64
American Falls 8 13 8 7 – 36
Snake River – Lindsay 14, Gilbert 11, Coombs 9, Higginson 8, McCraw 8, Watt 5, Anderson 4, Goodwin 3, Keller 2.
American Falls – Henesh 17, deBruijn 6, Alvarez 4, Bolgen 4, Harwood 3, Horton 2.