Free Throws for a Cause

Dec. 7, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa men’s basketball assistant coach Kirk Speraw is one of 256 collegiate basketball coaches taking part in the second annual “Shots from the Heart”, which is an event created by Angela Lento and Joe Dwyer of to increase awareness for the growing problem of Heart Disease and raise money to benefit the Skip Prosser Foundation.

“Shots from the Heart” has two 64-coach fields (one bracket for head coaches and one for assistant coaches). Participating coaches compete in a free throw shooting contest. Beginning last month, coaches competed against one another with the winners advancing to the next round. Each coach shot 25 free throws, at his convenience, and the coach with the most points advanced.

“I’m glad Angela and Joe spearheaded this along with some other coaches to bring it to everyone’s attention,” said Speraw. “Certainly, I’m interested in raising awareness for heart disease. I really admired Skip. Anything I can do to help benefit the Skip Prosser Foundation and raise funds for heart disease, I’m more than willing to do.”

Prosser was the head men’s basketball coach at Wake Forest University, who died from a heart attack in July of 2007.

Speraw posted a victory over Old Dominion’s Jim Corrigan in the first round of the tournament. He moves on to round two to face Saddi Washington of Oakland University. Speraw shot his free throws, sinking all 25.

Speraw, who played on Iowa’s 1978 and 1979 teams, has always been a good free throw shooter. In his two seasons with the Hawkeyes, he played in 26 games, missing only two free throws.

“As a player, shooting the basketball was one of my strengths,” said Speraw. “It goes back to shooting the ball every day growing up as a kid.”

Speraw was raised on 40 acres in Sioux City. He said that his family’s house stood at the top of a hill, which was the only house you could see. It was there, and the gym, where Speraw practiced.

“We had a basket in the driveway,” Speraw said. “I would shoot at all hours of the day and night throughout the entire year, including the winter. When the wind was blowing out of the north, I would just take it on as a challenge to shoot the ball a foot and a half to the left and still try to make it. I shot with gloves on when it was zero degrees and shoveled the snow so I could bounce the ball… typical of an Iowa kid growing up learning how to shoot the basketball.”

Speraw said that to be a good free throw shooter, you have to be technically sound.

“You have to keep your elbow under the basketball and not involve your guide hand in the shot,” said Speraw. “You have to have great concentration and confidence, and that comes with repeated practice and repetition of a good technically-sound shooting stroke. I think you need all of those components to be a successful free throw shooter.”

Speraw, who has been busy putting together scouting reports and preparing the Hawkeyes for games, hasn’t had much time to practice, but was able to find some time.

“I shot a couple times a few days before to get a little bit of a rhythm going,” said Speraw. “I spent a couple minutes when the team was shooting free throws to get my stroke back.”

The second round will take place in December, while the Sweet 16 and Round of Eight will occur in January, and the semifinals and finals are scheduled for February.

“Hopefully, people will gain some awareness and visit and see how they can contribute to the Skip Prosser Foundation,” said Speraw.

To view the brackets and/or learn how you can contribute to the Skip Prosser Foundation” visit: