By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletics Director, Strategic Communications
Northridge, Ca. – During a recent post-game press conference, Josh Greene diligently answered reporters' questions about the team's exciting 92-83 overtime victory over Cal State Fullerton.
An elderly gentleman with a brimming smile, dressed in an old but stylish San Fernando Valley State letterman's jacket, stood in the back of the room with his wife.
As the press conference drew to a conclusion, the young Greene and the elderly fellow introduced each other and exchanged hugs.
The two greatest free throw shooters in school history, two generations apart in age, finally met … Josh Greene meet Chuck Malouf.
Greene's heralded four-year CSUN career has been well chronicled. Greene holds numerous school records, and his name is mentioned prominently in many Top-10 categories.
But who is Chuck Malouf? For the past 50 years, Malouf has held the second oldest school records in Matador basketball history; single season free throw percentage (.869, 1963-64) and career free throw percentage (.867, 1961-64).
With one regular season game and at least one post-season game to play at the upcoming Big West Conference Tournament, Greene is well above the pace to break one of Malouf's long-standing school records; single season free throw percentage (.916 compared to Malouf's school record of .869). Greene is just ahead of the second school record mark, career free throw percentage. Greene stands at .868 while Malouf's career record is .867.
Malouf lives in Burbank with his wife (Nikki). They often attend Matador home games. Without reservation, Malouf doesn't blink knowing that Greene could soon break his long and cherished school records.
"I couldn't ask for a better person than Josh Greene to break my school records," admitted Malouf, who attended the game against Cal State Fullerton (2/8/14) along with his wife Nickki. "It was a great honor to meet Josh. I am so impressed with the young man and all the records he has accomplished as a Matador. Congratulations, Josh."
Malouf took several photos with Greene, CSUN head coach Reggie Theus, and Greene's mom, Celeste. Malouf, like a true Matador, wore his old letterman's jacket. Even 50 years later, the old jacket still fits.
"I played at 190 pounds from 1961-64, and have only gained five pounds in all those records," Malouf happily admits. "It was great to be a Matador. I'm very proud of my letterman's jacket."
As both Greene and Malouf exchanged notes on how to be successful at the free throw line, curious reporters and well-wishers listened with interest and offered their congratulations to Greene and Malouf.
Basketball is more than a game. It offers an opportunity for people to establish friendly relationships, and a chance to enjoy current accomplishments along with the establishment of new school records that have lasted more than two generations (50 years).
The friendly, respectful exchange of words between the 21-year-old Greene and the 72-year-old Malouf were beyond description.
Generation Gap? … None here !!!
"Meeting Chuck was a great honor," said Greene. "Chuck is a person who loves life. He is an extremely positive person. He knows the game. Just talking to him about the game was a very meaningful experience to both of us. He's a great person to be around. He felt honored for me to break his records because of the hard work and dedication I have put into the game. Hopefully my school records will last 50 years like Chuck's."
Since Greene enrolled at CSUN in 2010, his free throw percentage numbers have increased; as a freshman in 2010-11 (.826); as a sophomore in 2011-12 (.831); as a junior in 2012-13 (.858), and as a senior in 2013-14 (.916, tops in the Big West Conference and sixth-best in the country).
"If he had another year, he might be shooting 100 percent," joked Malouf.
Greene said the secret to free throw success is simple.
"Work hard," said Greene. "It's dedication and pride. Free throws are just like free points. It's doing the same routine over-and-over. Make sure your foundation is set. When I go up-and-down the court, and if I get a little winded and then get fouled, I take a little time before I go to the free throw line. The extra time gives me an opportunity to collect my thoughts. When I go to the free throw line, I take a deep breath. I spin the ball once, dribble three times, then spin the ball again, focus on the rim, make sure I have a perfect arch, and the perfect follow through. Hopefully, the ball goes through the hoop."
Greene's routine has worked. The likable senior holds the school record for consecutive free throws (33 set in 2012-13). Greene earlier this year had a streak of 29 straight free throws.
Greene is attempting to become only the fourth person in the long history of the Big West Conference to shoot more than 90 percent from the free throw line in a single season. This season's mark of .916 is the second-best mark in the history of the conference.
"Shooting a free throw is like a layup," said Greene. "It's supposed to be easy. I put a lot of expectations on myself. Missing a free throw can haunt you. I try to do my part by making free throws and keeping us in the game."
Greene studies the techniques of the great NBA shooters such as Steve Nash of the Los Angeles Lakers (a. 904 career free throw shooter), and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors (a .900 free throw shooter) and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder (a .883 career free throw shooter).
In shooting .916 this year, Greene has made an incredible 141-of-154 free throws. Greene's successful tenure in shooting free throws started as a youngster learning the game. "I hit around 87 percent of my shots in high school," remembers Greene, who says the secret to success is to simply keep working. "Free throw shooting is just going back to the basics."
Malouf credits his success as a free throw shooter to his high school and college coaches, particularly Abe Androff. Following graduation from Hoover High School in Glendale, Malouf played at Glendale College where Androff served as head coach for 24 years.
"Abe played with the great free throw shooter, Bill Sharman, in the late 1940's at USC for Trojan head coach Sam Barry," remembers Malouf. "We would all stay after practice and just shoot free throws. Abe always said … 'hit 50 free throws in a row, and I will buy you a malt and a hamburger.'"
Malouf remembers hitting 79 straight free throws after practice. "That's a pretty good streak," Malouf smiles. "In my last year of high school and my two years at Glendale College, the coaches showed me how to shoot, and of course I practiced at home."
Malouf has given Greene a large folder of notes he has compiled over the many years on how to become a successful free throw shooter.
"Josh keeps his balance," Malouf noticed. "He focuses on the middle of the rim. He has his elbow in, and his fingers are pointed straight ahead at the basket. Then he follows through. Josh has the touch, the follow through, the focus, the concentration and the techniques. The two things that I believed win games were playing defense and hitting your free throws. I've been saying that for 40 years. What's your best offense? It's playing your best defense. Even John Wooden used to talk about that."
Malouf transferred to then San Fernando Valley State during mid-season of the 1961-62 campaign. He played two and one-half seasons for the Matadors (1961-64). Malouf remembers he shot 91 percent for most of his senior season. He ended his senior year at .869 (93-for-107).
"I remember I had a bad game at Westmont College where I hit only 1-of-4 free throws," said Malouf, who later discovered that one of the rims was bent.
Malouf's first full season as a Matador was during the 1962-63 campaign, the year the Matadome opened its doors for intercollegiate basketball competition. Mark Cooley, a Matador Hall of Famer, and a former teammate of Malouf, alerted Malouf that his long-standing free throw records were in jeopardy.
"Mark had read several articles to alert me that the free throw records were going to possibly be broken," said Malouf. "Since then I have been keeping close track of Josh's progress. He's a great young man. He deserves it."
Malouf proudly admits that despite his age (72-years-old), he could still make around 85 percent of his free throws.
Asked if he would like to challenge Josh Greene to a free throw shooting contest, Malouf's competitive fire remains. "That might be a fun thing to do. I don't mind competing with anybody. Maybe once the season is over."
Greene Gossip …
Josh Greene has established seven school records and is attempting to establish two more school marks in single season and career free throw percentage.
1. Career Games (121, 2010-Present)
1. Single Season Minutes (1,103, 35.6 mpg, 2013-14)
1. Career Three-Point Goals (219, 2010-Present)
1. Career Three-Point Field Goal Attempts (572, 2010-Present)
1. Consecutive Free Throw Made (33, 2012-13)
1. Best Free Throw Percentage (Game – 1.000, 12-for-12 vs UCSB, 1/18/14)
1. Best Free Throw Percentage (Game – 1.000, 11-for-11 vs UC Irvine, 2/22/14)
*1. Single Season Free Throw Percentage (.916, 2013-14)
*1. Career Free Throw Percentage (.868, 2010-Present)
2. Best Three-Point Field Goal Pct. (Game - .833, 5-for-6 vs Morgan State, 12/27/13)
2. Consecutive Free Throw Made – Game (14 vs Tulsa, 11/17/12)
3. Career Minutes (3,440, 28.4 mpg, 2010-Present)
3. Career Field Goal Attempts (1,125, 2010-Present)
3. Single Game Three-Pointers Made (7 vs Hawai'i, 3/17/13)
3. Single Season Three-Point Field Goals (69, 2013-14)
3. Career Free Throws (383, 2010-Present)
4. Career Assists (347, 2010-Present)
5. Single Season Three-Point Goals (63, 2012-13)
5. Three-Point Field Goal Attempts (14 vs UCSB, 3/2/13)
5. Three-Point Field Goal Attempts (14 vs Hawai'i, 3/7/13)
6. Single Game Assists (13 vs Eastern Washington, 11/12/12)
7. Points (Game – 37 vs Hawai'i, 3/7/13)
7. Single Season Free Throw Percentage (.858, 121-for-141, 2012-13)
8. Single Season Three-Point Field Goal Attempts (164, 2012-13)
8. Career Steals (126, 2010-Present)
9. Best Three-Field Attempts – Game (.714, 5-for-7 at Pacific, 2/11/12)
10. Career Games Started (78, 2010-Present)
10. Career Free Throw Attempts (121, 2010-Present)
10. Single Season Three-Point Field Goals (57, 2011-12)
10. Single Season Three-Point Field Goals Attempts (163, 2013-14)
10. Single Season Three-Point Field Goal Percentage (.423, 69-for-163, 2013-14)
10. Single Season Free Throws (141, 2013-14)
* Season still in progress