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Sun Devil Spotlight: Curtain of Distraction working…or is it?

Beginning in the 2013-14 season, members of the 942 Crew unveiled a creative way to distract opposing free-throw shooters.

Whenever an opponent steps up to the free-throw line in the second half (when they are shooting toward the student section), the 942 Crew unveils a black curtain on both sides of the basket. Before the opponent shoots, the curtain opens and a mystery distraction appears.

Among my favorites so far: a Miley Cyrus wrecking ball, a man-eating shark and anything involving horse heads.

In the past week, though, the 942 Crew’s “Curtain of Distraction” turned a local secret into a national story.

While the distraction was featured during last year's Final Four, it received more play on a number of platforms of late, including ESPN’s Around the Horn, on, Bleacher Report, among others.

The rise of the famous group has led to its prevalence on social media, including a debut for its own Twitter account.

From a spectator's perspective, the Curtain of Distraction is quite enjoyable — in fact, it's probably the most exciting part of the ASU men's basketball team right now — but does it actually work?

In the first half of ASU's home games in 2014-15, opponents are shooting 71.2 percent from the line. In the second half, that figure drops to 60 percent.

These numbers indicate teams are shooting substantially worse in the second half than the first. But does that mean it’s the cause? Not necessarily, and this could be a case of the association as causation fallacy.

One other important thing to point out: ASU doesn't shoot free throws well either, at 66.4 percent this season at home and 66.7 percent overall (ranking 247th).

A second thing: during last season opponents actually shot free-throws better in the second half than in the first (60.1 percent versus 58.9 percent). But holding foes to 60 percent shooting is still quite good considering those teams averaged 70.2 percent from the line that season and the NCAA Division I average was 69.8 percent in 2013-14.

If you combine the two seasons so far, visiting first-half free-throw shooters are 120-of-190 (63.2 percent) and in the second half are 185-of-308 (60.1 percent).

Is the Curtain the cause? It's possible but believing it works is all that matters for the 942 Crew.

Full list of opponents in the second half:

Team ('13-14)Made FTAtt. FT1st half %Made FTAtt. FT2nd half %Season FT%
Miami (OH)3475.0%91090.0%75.4%
Idaho State5862.5%111957.9%71.3%
Texas Tech7977.8%6785.7%72.8%
UC Irvine3475.0%41040.0%64.1%
Washington State4580.0%2540.0%65.8%
Oregon State1333.3%6875.0%69.5%

Team ('14-15)Made FTAtt. FT1st half %Made FTAtt. FT2nd half %Season FT%
Chicago State6785.7%71643.8%62.0%
Bethune Cookman44100.0%3837.5%68.7%



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