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Published: Tuesday, 3/28/2006

Moreau free-throw master

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Daryl Moreau shows his children, Hannah and Adam, how to shoot free throws. He's an expert. Moreau hit 126 in a row when he played at a New Orleans high school. Daryl Moreau shows his children, Hannah and Adam, how to shoot free throws. He's an expert. Moreau hit 126 in a row when he played at a New Orleans high school.
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For nearly three decades, Daryl Moreau's name has stood prominently in record books.

Most notably, the Guinness Book of World Records.

From Jan. 17, 1978 to Jan. 9, 1979, a span covering 21 high school games over two seasons, Moreau was a sure thing when he stepped to the free throw line. The New Orleans native, who has spent the past 10 years calling Sylvania home, sank 126 straight free throws during his junior and senior seasons at New Orleans De La Salle High.

It was a feat that withstood the test of time.

That is, until recently, when Deb Remmerde of Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, topped Moreau's mark by seven free throws before her lengthy streak of consecutive foul shots made halted at 133.

However, Moreau, not sounding smug, believes his accomplishment 27 years ago still stands No. 1 based upon the size difference between men's and women's regulation basketballs.

"Honestly, I think what [Remmerde] did in terms of her streak I think it's phenomenal and impressive, but it's not the same record," Moreau said. "I say that because it's a smaller basketball. In reality, the margin for error for me was less than it was for her.

"Unless you're considering the feats with the same dimensions I think you can say she set a world record for free throw shooting for girls basketball."

Although both sank baskets on the same size rims - an inside diameter of 18 inches - men's basketballs generally measure 29.5 inches in circumference and weigh about 1 pound, 5 ounces, while women's balls have a circumference of 28.5 inches and weigh approximately 1 pound, 3 ounces.

Moreau said comparing shooting baskets with a men's basketball with shooting a women's basketball is similar to comparing hitting a baseball with a wood bat with hitting a baseball with an aluminum bat.

"In my mind, I say the record I set still holds," he said.

Northwestern College coach Earl Woudstra said men's basketball and women's basketball are different games but shooting free throws may actually represent one of the common characteristics. But he believes Moreau remains equally worthy of recognition for his free throw-shooting record as Remmerde, who averaged 31.3 points and 6.8 rebounds en route to earning NAIA player of the year honors as a sophomore for Woudstra.

"I think it must have been an incredible accomplishment for that to happen for that young man back then," Woudstra said. "I don't even know if it was the same kind of hype about it back then. I think each of those records are incredible and great accomplishments."

Moreau's feat still remains the standard for men's basketball. The longest streak of free throws made by an NBA player is 94, set by Minnesota's Michael Williams in 1993. Northern Kentucky's Paul Cluxton made 94 in 1997, which still stands as the NCAA men's record.

Over the years, Moreau, who serves as executive director of Northwest Ohio Cardiology Consultants, has received plenty of national attention. Not only did his free throw shooting make him a local celebrity in New Orleans and throughout the state of Louisiana, it led to recognition by such national sports publications as Sports Illustrated.

And, of course, the Guinness World Records, which was known then as the Guinness Book of World Records.

"I still find it mind-boggling," said Moreau, 45. "It's almost too tough for me to comprehend it. For me to think that far back and realize that I did something that no male has ever done before, I find that amazing."

In fact, no other man over the past 27 years has come close. Moreau said he's never lost any sleep over worrying about his record being broken.

"I am 100 percent convinced that my record will be broken by a male," he said. "As we all know, records are made to be broken."

Moreau, who after playing on his high school varsity for four years went on to play at Tulane University, said he never spent a lot of extra time practicing free throws. He wasn't the gym rat who felt compelled to finish off every practice by shooting a minimum of 100.

"I had tremendous mechanics," Moreau said. "I was a basketball player. I wasn't just a free throw shooter."

Moreau does admit a setback in his playing days as a youth did heighten his attention to detail when shooting free throws.

"I can remember a time when I played a basketball game as a kid and getting fouled and getting two foul shots with no time left and missing the foul shots," Moreau said. "I certainly have vivid memories of the pain of missing those free throws at an early age. I saw the importance of making free throws.

"My goal my senior year in high school was to not miss a free throw. I told my brother [David] and he told me I was nuts."

Moreau went on to make 119 of 122 free throws that season and his percentage, 97.5, still stands as a national high school single-season record. He made 96 straight before missing his first.

His secret to free throw shooting was keeping things simple and emphasizing consistency with his mechanics.

"My approach to free throw shooting was, first, minimize the variation, so that if you shrink the number of the things you do, the fewer things can go wrong," Moreau said. "I shot in a tunnel - that was my view of the basket. The notion I would miss right or left was never in my mind."

Long removed from competitive play, which included sharing the court at Tulane with former Cleveland Cavalier John Williams and playing against Michael Jordan at North Carolina, Moreau said he has played basketball in a competitive setting "maybe five times" since graduating from college.

The 6-foot-3 guard never considered playing in the NBA after graduating in 1983.

"I didn't play because I wasn't good enough," he said. "People have no earthly idea how good the players are in the NBA.

"I had people talk to me, and I said I was done. I wasn't kidding anyone. I knew I wasn't good enough. It certainly wasn't my interest. It was not even on the radar screen.

"Basketball created a tremendous opportunity for me. It paid for my education and I got a chance to play against the best players in the world."

An up-close meeting with Jordan remains etched in his mind.

"I get set [to take a charge] and he jumps and the next thing I knew was his shoes clipped my shoulders and then he's hanging on the rim," he recalled.

Moreau and his wife, Jill, an Ohio native, moved to northwest Ohio from New Orleans to live near her family. Besides helping raise his 12-year-old son, Adam, and 9-year-old daughter, Hannah, Moreau has earned an MBA from the University of Toledo and served on the Toledo Firefighters Health Plan board of trustees.

Only recently has he become actively involved with any level of basketball since his playing days ended at Tulane. He serves as a coach for his son's youth team. And it's understood any additional free throw shooting at the end of practices is entirely optional for all.

Contact Donald Emmons at:

demmons@theblade.com

or 419-724-6302.



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