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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Coach- Why Didn't You?

Numerous times in my career, I have made a choice in a game which has not turned out well. Often those bad choices you make as a coach in the second quarter are forgotten by most fans, but remembered by you as coach. But the wrong choice made at the end of a game is remembered by the fans and by the coach. 
I was reminded by this in the aftermath of the Wisconsin loss to Syracuse when Wisconsin failed to score in the last possession. Not only did they fail to score, but they really did not get a great shot. The next day the Madison paper had a reporter pointing out Wisconsin still had a time out and one of their best players (Berggren) was at the scorer's table waiting to get in. 

I don't think fans understand when a last second play does not work, the coach is going to question the choice also. I remember a game we lost where we ran a set play to get the ball to the basket, we did, the player was fouled, and the player missed the free throws. We lost. Was my choice of the play bad? We lost. If I had know we would get the ball to the basket but the player would have missed the free throws- I would not have drawn up the play. 

The week before Bo Ryan chose not to take a time out. Wisconsin went down and scored. I would argue his decision was not better a week ago and bad this week. The execution of his decision was good one week and the execution was bad the next week.

Unlike fans, the coach has to make the decision before they know the outcome. Fans can watch, see what happens and then make their decision. 

What fans sometimes fail to realize there are MANY right choices. Sometimes fans think at the end of a game there is only one correct strategy. Many coaches have won taking a time out to set up a last second play. Many coaches have lost taking a time out. And the same is true of not taking a time out. 

Years ago I remember hearing a coach playing Quincy was asked why he did not take a time out late in the game when they were going for a last shot. The coach replied,"I was going to take a time out but I looked down at the other bench. If I took a time out, my players were going to spend a minute with me, and the other team was going to get to spend a minute with Jerry Leggett. I thought a time out would be to the other team's advantage."  

See fans, there can be a lot more involved in coaching strategy than you even realize.

I will live with Bo Ryan's decision for practice, for games, and for the last minute-- Bo Knows Basketball.

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