NORMAN — There’s nothing more solitary than shooting jump shots all by yourself. Good or bad, there’s a lot of time to think about the process.
Oklahoma point guard Sam Grooms has spent many mornings, afternoons and nights doing that exact thing. He hoisted jumpers in daily solitude hoping that special feeling required between the mind and body would finally synchronize.
“I came here so many times and just shot by myself, trying as much as I can to get that confidence going in my head,” Grooms said while standing in the Sooners’ practice gym Monday.
There are 10 baskets in there. Grooms would fire shots at all of them.
His teammates watched it as well. Practice would end and Grooms would immediately head off to one end of the court and start firing jump shots. They saw a decent amount were going through the net. On game days, however, Grooms seemed to forget that part.
OU forward Romero Osby kept reminding him.
“I just told him to play with confidence,” Osby said. “A lot of times last year he would get down on himself and even earlier this year people would sag off of him and he would still hesitate. I would always tell him to let it fly. If you miss it, you miss it. We all miss shots and make shots. I told him he works on his game too much to not take those shots in the game.”
Grooms heard the encouraging words, but they weren’t enough. That little voice in his head during games still screamed “No!” when opponents practically begged him to shoot jumpers.
“I would second-guess myself all the time before I shot and it didn’t turn out well,” Grooms said. “It’s probably one of the hardest things to deal with when people around you are telling you they support you and you don’t believe in it yourself.”