Davis trying to free his mind at the line

De’Ron Davis will be the first to admit it.

He’s not getting it done at the free throw line.

“I can’t go 3-for-9 at the line and leave extra points out there,” Davis said, alluding to his performance last week against Iowa. “That’s hurting our team.”

But right now, Indiana’s sophomore big man isn’t overly concerned about his free throw woes lingering throughout the season.

As he attempts to fix a .479 free throw shooting percentage, Davis is drawing upon his past to find the confidence necessary for knocking down the shots the Hoosiers need him to make.

“I know I’m a good free throw shooter,” Davis said. “I talk to my coaches and they know I’m a good free throw shooter. I just have to lock in and just hit it.”

Colorado’s Mr. Basketball in 2016, Davis arrived in Bloomington last summer having made 77 percent of his free throws during his time starring for Overland High High School outside Denver.

As a freshman for Indiana, Davis made 75 percent (68 for 90) of his his free throws coming off the bench.

Behind the scenes, too, Davis hasn’t had much trouble in practice or on his own. At this point, Davis’ struggles are primarily a mental hurdle that he’s trying to clear on game days.

“He’s not a bad free throw shooter,” fifth-year senior Collin Hartman said. “He can make them in practice and stuff. You gotta keep working at it and just keep his mindset (fresh). He’s thinking about it too much. Just step up to the line and knock it down.”

Davis is trying to shoot his way out of the funk before and after practice. Even before games, while his teammates are shooting around long before tip-off, Davis is at the line working on his form.

Beyond trying to fix his head, Davis is trying to make subtle tweaks to his approach.

“I know what I’m doing wrong. That’s the biggest thing,” Davis said. “I notice that some shots, I’m pushing the ball, not getting the ball up, not bending my knees. I just have to stay fluid with it and just keep shooting.”

Davis feels like he has been in this position before. Last year, in fact.

He went 9-for-14 (64 percent) at the line during the month of November, before turning around and shooting 77 percent (59-for-76) at the stripe over the final three-plus months.

“It’s all mental,” he insists.

Perhaps Saturday was evidence that a turnaround may not be far away. Davis went 4-for-6 at the line against Louisville, making each of his four in succession during the second half.

“I just have to have confidence in myself,” Davis said. “The first couple games, when I was really shooting worse, I came to the line and was like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to get fouled.’ I can’t think like that. You gotta think like you want to draw fouls on the defense.

“I feel like once I want to get fouled and get to the line, that just pushes the mental block out of my head like, ‘OK, I know I can get easy points from here.'”

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