Sunday, March 25, 2007

Get a T.O., baby...

In the 1995 NCAA Tournament, Tyus Edney took the ball end to end in 4.8 seconds, got withinn 5 feet of the basket, and sank the shot to give UCLA a victory over Missour. The Bruins went on to win the title that year.

Since then, it seems the conventional wisdom for a team needing a last second basket to tie or win the game is to not take a time out, try to catch the other team off guard, and run down the court like Edney to win the game.

This makes the ending more exciting. We get quick end-to-end action instead of time outs.

The thing is, I can't recall a single time since Edney's mad dash that this strategy worked (and it probably shouldn't have worked for Edney either -- somebody's got to stop the dribble). Not once in twelve years. What usually happens is that the PG gets stopped just inside the half court line and heaves up a 35 foot shot that comes up about 3 feet short.

But as we found out during yesterday's Division II championship game, it could be worse:

Where was Gus Johnson for this game when we needed him, anyway?

Barton scores to tie the game, Winona St. immediately inbounds the ball, gets to halfcourt, and Barton steals it and wins the game with a buzzer-beating lay up.

As much as I hate to put college basketball even more into the hands of the coaches, and have to sit through even more final minute time-outs, I think it's time to acknowledge that this strategy isn't working. Teams today are too defensiveley disciplined to be caught off guard. Take a T.O. and set something up.