Portland guard Jared Stohl stands at the top of the key. He holds a ball in his left hand and another in his right hand. He then bends his knees and shoots both.
"I put more arc on one," he said, "and they both go in simultaneously."
Not every time. "I can usually make two out of 10," he said, meaning four balls in 20 attempts go through the hoop. "It doesn't take too many times."
With Kentucky playing at Portland on Friday, that kind of shooting ability has John Calipari's attention. He noted Stohl by name while assessing the Pilots for listeners to his radio call-in show Monday night.
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"I'm scared to death," the UK coach said Tuesday. " ... They have the best three-point shooter in the country."
When told about Calipari's shout-out, Stohl might have blushed (if blushing can be detected through a voice on the phone).
"I'm pretty honored," he said. "A legendary coach like him taking note of my shooting. Shooting is something I pride myself in."Calipari was not engaging in coaching hyperbole. Stohl led the nation in three-point accuracy last season by making 47.8 percent of his attempts. He's even hotter through three games this season, having made 12 of 21 shots from beyond the arc.
"I've been shooting pretty good, but I think I can still shoot better," Stohl said. "I missed a bunch of open ones. Even the crowd is, like, 'aww' after I miss them."
After making more than 250 three-pointers in his career and surpassing 1,000 points earlier this season, Stohl has conditioned fans to expect the ball to go in. Of course, not twice at the same time, but pretty much every time he's open with the ball in his hands.
"You hear everybody start to gasp a little bit," he said. "It's almost like a game-winning shot every time I shoot it."
Stohl, a 6-foot-2, 165-pound senior, thinks this audible anticipation helps. A "little bit of nerves," he said, focuses the mind.
Portland (3-0) isn't a one-man team. Led by forward Luke Sikma, the son of former NBA star Jack Sikma, and four-year starting center Kramer Knutson, the Pilots have the size to look Kentucky in the eye. And led by Stohl, Portland has the ability to match UK's good shooting shot for shot. The Pilots have made 28 of 55 three-point shots (50.9 percent) through three games.
There were no tricks to how Stohl became a good shooter. He shot a lot. His father, Eric, a community college player in his time, helped him with drills and shagging rebounds. Starting in the fifth grade, Stohl took 1,000 shots three days a week.
"I was never the biggest or quickest guy," he said. "So I always had to shoot farther from the basket. The deep ball is my forte."
He doesn't have a favorite spot. "Anywhere beyond the three-point line is usually my comfort zone," he said.
His range in games extends "a little bit past the NBA three-point line."
In practice, Stohl said, he shoots — not heaves — comfortably from half-court.
"My shot is kind of low in general," he said. "So I shoot it just normally, pretty much. Sometimes I'll hit four or five in a row."
Stohl, who is from Marysville, Wash., reminds Portland Coach Eric Reveno of someone straight out of the movie Hoosiers. Think backboard attached to the barn, a boy and a basketball.
"He looks like a good Midwest kid," Reveno said. "He's kind of a throwback-type kid. Pretty skilled. Grew up shooting, shooting, shooting."
Opponents concentrate on defending, defending, defending. By now, Stohl expects a lot of added attention.
"Usually players just face-guard me (and) don't help at all, all over the court," he said. "Usually after my first three, the (opposing) team is all up in me, grabbing my jersey and not letting me breathe."
Portland tries to counter by setting screens and looking for Stohl in transition after Sikma (averaging 13 rebounds) or someone else gets an opponent's missed shot. Not surprisingly, Stohl's favorite player is another dead-eye shooter: former Duke star J.J. Redick. Unlike Redick, a villain on the road, Stohl tries to keep a low profile. Otherwise, he tries to be just like Redick.
"I remember listening to him, and he said one of the keys is having confidence and always thinking you're going to make it," Stohl said. "I've incorporated that."
Knight on Naismith Award list
UK guard Brandon Knight is among six freshmen on a list of 50 pre-season candidates chosen for the Naismith Award. A list of 30 candidates will be chosen in February, and it will be whittled to four finalists in March.
The other freshmen on the list are Harrison Barnes of North Carolina, Will Barton of North Carolina, Kyrie Irving of Duke, Perry Jones of Baylor and Jared Sullinger of Ohio State.
Other Southeastern Conference players on the pre-season list are Chandler Parsons of Florida, Jeffery Taylor of Vanderbilt, Trey Thompkins of Georgia and Chris Warren of Mississippi.
UK starts new Web site
UK athletics launched a new Web site Tuesday meant to provide interactive pages for each of its 22 varsity sports. Interactive.ukathletics.com did not have active links for every sport as of Tuesday night, but the pages for the men's and women's basketball teams and the football team, along with several others, were working. The new site "is meant to complement — not compete — with UK's official Web site, UKathletics.com," the school said in a statement.