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Give school girls coach an assist for Lin

Coach Doc Scheppler stands for a portrait after

Coach Doc Scheppler stands for a portrait after working with the Pinewood High School Girl's Varsity team. Photo Credit: Don Feria

Jeremy Lin had a reputation for missing shots, and not one team took a chance on him in the NBA draft. So, how did Lin go from poor shooter to shooting star? Meet Doc Scheppler.

He's the man who helped the Knicks' sensation become a scoring threat by improving his jump shot and proving everyone else wrong.

"I laugh now when I hear people say he's not a very good shooter," said Scheppler, a 58-year-old girls basketball coach at a private high school in northern California.

Scheppler said he spent some 400 hours in the gym with Lin last fall. And it paid off.

The results were on display Tuesday night in Toronto, where Lin swished a go-ahead three-pointer with .5 seconds remaining, continuing his remarkable streak as the Knicks' new point guard. Last night, as the Knicks stretched their Lin-ning streak to seven games, he scored only 10 points in limited minutes in a 100-85 blowout of the Sacramento Kings after averaging 26.8 points during his first six games.

Lin's story is even more amazing because no one seemed to see this coming. Lin wasn't offered a college scholarship to play basketball, was passed over by all 30 NBA teams in the 2010 draft, and was waived by two NBA teams.

"I realize that's only because that's what people have heard or read about him," Scheppler said, "but I was in the gym with him and I watched him shoot and it's just the most beautiful shot when he's got the repeatable stroke going."

Lin credited Scheppler during his postgame news conference Tuesday night, saying he had the confidence to take that pressure-filled, tiebreaking shot because of their work together.

Scheppler, who has coached at Pinewood School in Los Altos, Calif., for 34 years and has won five state championships, says Lin sent him a text message later that night that said, "That was all you."

"He helped me a ton with my shot, and so I'm not going to stop shooting if I think it's a good shot," Lin said after Tuesday's victory. "I understand my percentage is low. That's obviously a criticism people have of me."

But according to Scheppler, that won't be a criticism for long.

"His shot has changed," Kings coach Keith Smart said before last night's game. Smart coached Lin with the Golden State Warriors last season.

Lin's high school coach, Peter Diepenbrock, introduced Lin to Scheppler a few years ago when Lin was at Harvard, but they worked together only every now and again, Scheppler said. That changed last August when Lin made improving his jump shot a priority. They worked together three or four times a week until the NBA lockout ended in December, Scheppler said.

At first, their work focused on rebuilding Lin's shot by improving his footwork, lowering his release point and training him not to jump so high before he shoots.

"The best shooters, it's not that their releases are quick, it's their feet that are quick," Scheppler said. "The best ones jump quick, but not high. So we did that with Jeremy, and we sped up his actual release time . . . and then it became just a thing of repeatable beauty."

Often they played a game Scheppler calls "Beat the ghost," in which Lin had to make 21 catch-and-shoot three-pointers before he missed seven -- or else start all over.

"That's where I saw how much of a competitor he is," he said. "He'd say, 'I have to win.' "

Scheppler said that by the end of their time together, Lin typically hit 70 percent to 75 percent of the three-pointers.

"Some of the shots we've worked on, he hasn't even brought them out of his bag yet," Scheppler said. "I would watch him shoot and say to myself, 'This guy is going to tear it up.'

"It was just a matter of getting the opportunity."

With Anthony Rieber

New York Sports