Zydrunas Ilgauskas is trying to prove you can teach an old Lithuanian new tricks.Yes! A Zydrunas hook shot? He'd be stupid not to do it.
Ilgauskas was a popular scapegoat when the Cavs failed to upset the Detroit Pistons in May's playoffs. He scored just eight points in the Game 7 loss when LeBron James badly needed offensive help. It closed a forgettable playoff performance: In the first round, he was often outplayed by the Washington Wizards' Brendan Haywood, and then it got really tough when he had to face Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace.
After Ilgauskas had waited eight years between playoff appearances, it wasn't the way he wanted to end the season.
So he's trying to keep it from happening again by taking the somewhat rare and challenging step of adding a facet to his game at the age of 31. He has slowly and surely been working on an old yet forgotten move: the hook shot.
Oh man, Z hook shots. This is going to be sweet.
It is hardly a work of hardwood art. With Ilgauskas' long arms, the maneuver looks a little more awkward than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's famous sky hook. But he's shown some consistency, especially with the right hand, and some range as well.
``Uh, it's a layup, runner, floater, half-hook, sorta jumper.... . . '' Cavs coach Mike Brown said, ``that he seems to start from his knees.''
Ilgauskas is still working on the left-handed version, which is especially critical if he wants opponents to worry about him from the right block and to not favor his right side so much. He doesn't quite have confidence in it yet, but fans and other centers can expect to see it at some point this season.
``I worked a lot on the left hand; I don't have enough confidence to use it yet, but I'm working on it, and in the future I want to use it more,'' Ilgauskas said. ``If it becomes respectable, they have to defend it, and it is a higher percentage shot than a fade.''