Of all the crazy bounces we’ve seen in basketball in recent years, few have been more bizarre than a free throw Idaho State’s Kamil Gawrzydek attempted late in the second half of Tuesday night’s 71-48 loss atUtah State.
Gawrzydek’s first foul shot bounces high off the back rim, deadens on the front rim and remains stationary there for almost two seconds before finally falling through the hoop to the disbelief of everyone in attendance. It hung on the front rim long enough that a Utah State player underneath the hoop actually had time to wave his arms in an effort to generate a strong enough breeze to blow the ball out of the cylinder.
To get a better idea of what could have caused the ball to freeze on the front rim like somebody paused their DVR, I sent the YouTube clip to John Fontanella, a physics professor at the U.S. Naval Academy and author of the book “The Physics of Basketball.”
Fontanella, a former NAIA All-American in the 1960s, compared it to a player possessing the ability to balance the ball on his index finger without spinning it first. He suggested a sticky substance on the ball or an air conditioning vent blowing straight down on the rim could have contributed, but noted that it’s theoretically possible for the ball to remain stuck on the front rim interminably.
“There’s absolutely no reason the ball couldn’t actually do that if all the conditions were right because you have two round surfaces,” Fontanella said. “As long as the middle of the ball is directly above the middle of the rim, theoretically it can stay there as long as it likes until it’s disturbed by something. Maybe the conditions were just right.”
It’s difficult for Fontanella to quantify how unlikely it is for a basketball to balance on the front rim for that long, but he said he’s only seen anything like it a couple times before at most.
“A chance in a million, I guess,” Fontanella said. “It’s like it rolled up to the top of a hill and just sat there. Eventually there was just enough of a disturbance, somebody stomped on the floor or a fan did something to shake it off the top.”
(Thanks, CBS College Basketball Blog)