Mountaineers deal with reaction to foul shot
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Okam, the Mountaineers’ 7-foot redshirt sophomore center, found out that it takes just a video camera and a Youtube account to become famous, and not necessarily in a good way. Okam badly missed a free throw in a 70-66 loss to Western Carolina Saturday, which has been broadcast not just on the Internet, but on major networks in the country.
That includes being shown on Yahoo! Sports, the Huffington Post and on "Monday Night Football," which showed the video on its halftime show.
USA Today reported on its web site that by Tuesday, the video had been seen by nine million. There are no less than nine postings of the video on Youtube as of Thursday night.
“I hit the first shot and on the second, it was just one of those crazy things where the ball slips out of your hand,” Okam said in a statement released by the university. “Obviously a lot of folks have seen it and it’s gotten a lot of attention, but I’m just focused on moving ahead with final exams this week and getting back on the winning track against UMKC on Sunday. You look back at it and laugh a little bit for sure, but it’s not something that will be in my mind the next time I step to the free-throw line.”
Okam had a final exam during practice Thursday and was not available for comment. His teammates defended Okam saying that the ball slipped out of his hand, which could happen to anybody.
“It slipped out of his hand,” said Okam’s roommate Jay Canty. “The camera didn’t show that. It just took off from there.”
ASU forward Nathan Healy, who caught the ball when it landed, agreed.
“It just slipped,” Healy said. “It slipped from the time he brought it up.”
Okam made 1-of-4 foul shots in the game. He also grabbed four rebounds. Appalachian State was trailing Western Carolina by nine points in the second half when it happened.
Healy said the players did not give Okam a hard time about the shot since the Mountaineers lost the game. It was Appalachian State’s seventh straight setback.
It also spread quickly on the Internet. Since it happened, ASU’s basketball sports information director Ryan Bowers said several outlets have called, including ESPN and “Good Morning America,” have called wanting to talk to Okam.
Canty said Okam was taken aback by all of the publicity, but is feeling better about the incident.
“He’s doing a little bit better,” Canty. “I think at first he kind of took it a little hard because it got blown up and they made a big deal out of it. He’s my roommate, so being in the room with him, I’m trying to talk to him and tell him not to worry about it. We just sit around now and laugh about it a little bit. I think that’s going to help him a little bit. We’ll move on from it.”
Okam actually made his first foul shot. When he got ready to attempt the second shot, the ball started slipping out of his hands. Okam tried to shoot the ball anyway, but it landed far short of the basket and into Healy’s hands.
“I think the worst part about it is that people don’t know, unless you were at the game, was that he made the first one,” Mountaineers coach Jason Capel said. “It was all net. (Wednesday) in practice, we do a deal where I say ‘OK Brian, you make these two and we don’t run any sprints.’ He steps up and makes both of them.”
The Mountaineers want to forget about it since they have a game Sunday at UMKC.