To Foul or Not to Foul?
You know the situation. Up by three, less than five seconds remaining and the opponent has the ball. What to do? Well coaches overwhelmingly choose not to foul because they fear the foul occurring on a three point shot with a chance to lose the game on a four point play. Well, that almost never happens.
The author had a heated debated with former Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez at Madison Square Garden and he was adamant that fouling was the wrong way to go without offering a good reason. Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated looked at the concept in 2010 after the classic Kansas State-Xavier NCAA Sweet 16 game and concluded that fouling makes a lot of sense. Kansas State coach Frank Martin agreed with him. The Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective came to the same conclusion that very year.
What are the chances if the foul actually takes place that a player will actually hit a three while being fouled, or if fouled in the process of a three, make the first two and miss the third and hope that a teammate gets a tap in? Not very strong. Yet coaches in both the men's and the women's game are a conservative lot and choose to take their chances with the other team making a three, about a 30 percent probability and one that seems much higher this year as the strategy of not fouling has cost at least three teams the game. Bob Huggins of West Virginia, for one chooses not to foul and has been victimized by this strategy.
Wait until it costs a coach an NCAA Championship. The strategy will be widely debated then.