Monday, April 13, 2015

Schoonmaker troubles goalies, ignores coaches with lifelong jump shot

Henry Schoonmaker’s bad habit surfaced in sixth grade.

A basketball player first and foremost, Schoonmaker jumped every time he took a long-range shot. When he started playing lacrosse, he took the same approach.

“I didn’t know exactly how you were supposed to shoot,” Schoonmaker said, “so I just did the jumper.”

He’s been tearing up defenses with that jumper ever since. Though coaches and friends have encouraged Schoonmaker to remove the jump shot from his game, he’s made it his staple, his go-to shot. Schoonmaker is fourth on No. 7 Syracuse (10-3, 4-1 Big East) in goals, and his jump shot will once again be a factor against No. 1 Notre Dame (10-2, 4-1) on Saturday at MetLife Stadium.

“I know a lot of guys do the jump shot,” Schoonmaker said. “It’s just the difference with me is that I do it every time.”

Schoonmaker said he jumps on his shot 80-90 percent of the time, and will usually jump if he’s more than seven yards away from net. In high school, Schoonmaker said close to 60 percent of his goals were fast-break jumpers off of faceoffs. It works for him, but he’s thought about getting rid of the shot altogether many times.

After redshirting his freshman season, Schoonmaker knew he had to make a change. Syracuse head coach John Desko often casually told him to get rid of the jumper.

“You’re probably taking some speed off of that,” Desko would tell him in practice, or, “You should try not to do that.” The suggestions weren’t very demanding, though. Desko knew Schoonmaker wouldn’t break the habit.

“There’s really no reason to jump and shoot,” Desko said. “I think you leave yourself susceptible to physical contact and injury anytime you leave your feet, just like a basketball player.”

But that’s why Schoonmaker started jumping in the first place. He was a basketball player as a kid, and said he regrets not trying out for his high school team. Jumping was something he did all the time.

It works for Schoonmaker, so Desko isn’t worried.

“Even though you’re working on things in practice, when you’re in a game and you’re making a split decision, a lot of times, you revert back to your old habits,” Desko said, “but I’m not sweating it too much.”

Schoonmaker’s heard the advice before. He heard it in high school and he hears it at Syracuse. He heard it during the summer when his friends back in Portland, Ore., suggested he make the switch for good. Schoonmaker tried, but felt uncomfortable and returned to the jump shot after just three weeks. It was all he knew.

It’s a shot he’s perfected during the years and one that’s befuddled goaltenders throughout the season. Schoonmaker sprints downfield and looks ready to take a standard shot. Then, he stops and jumps. The shot comes milliseconds later.

“I’ll do a move or whatever, and I’ll know I should probably plant or just shoot it, but I just naturally jump and I’m like, ‘Ooh, I probably shouldn’t have done that,’” Schoonmaker said. “And sometimes, it’ll end up going in.”

He said people often look at him quizzically, wondering what he’s doing. Sometimes, he doesn’t even know. But it works.

Schoonmaker is shooting 34.9 percent this season, which puts him at a higher mark than SU’s three leading scorers: JoJo Marasco, Kevin Rice and Luke Cometti.

Syracuse goalie Dominic Lamolinara said he’s never faced someone who uses the jump shot as often as Schoonmaker. He said goalies know it’s coming, but it’s not something for which they can prepare. That extra split second is what stupefies them, Lamolinara said.

Lamolinara said goalies think the ball is going one way and then, all of a sudden, it’s coming at a completely different angle. He said Schoonmaker’s unique delivery often throws him off in practice.

“I don’t know if he just gets more power on it or if he feels he’s more accurate,” Lamolinara said, “but until a goalie can consistently stop him in a game, I feel like he shouldn’t change it up.”

Published on April 24, 2013 at 9:55 pm
Contact Trevor: | @TrevorHass

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