Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, February 19, 2016 at 12:00 PM
If you watched this past Wednesday night’s Duke/North Carolina game, you saw a real clinic on coaching. Obviously Coach K of Duke got the best of it by a wide margin. But, I can’t deride Roy Williams too much for his last minute choice to attack for the win without using a timeout. That timeout would have let Duke set up their defense…particularly in trying to deny the inbounds pass. Coaches are finally learning late game percentages!
What did Coach K do right? A quick list…
*He kept the tempo slow and manageable. This was ESSENTIAL because he only had five players! Normally Duke runs a six-man rotation because they’ve been saddled with an awful bench this season (granting, that’s a strike against Coach K’s recruiting emphasis!). After losing a key player to an early ankle injury, Duke was forced to go with their only five “real” players the whole way. North Carolina WANTS to run. Duke prevented that, which is tougher to do for the visitor.
*He told his players to back off in the paint if they were beaten. When you only have five real players, you can’t afford foul trouble. If a starter fouls out, that’s the ballgame. It becomes a virtual 5-on-4 mismatch for the hosts. Normally coaches want their defenses to guard the rim with abandon. Coach K encouraged positioning over potential contact.
*Most importantly to me, he took what he learned from his time with NBA players during the Olympics to run what amounted to a classic NBA offense all night. Duke’s players recognized the weakest defensive link in any given Carolina lineup…then got the ball to the guy that weak link was guarding. It was a game of matchups rather than “running plays.” Who can beat their man one-on-one? Get that guy the ball!
It wasn’t exactly David beating Goliath. You can’t call Duke a David because those main five guys are very good by college standards. (And, North Carolina is so inconsistent that they only occasionally look like a true Goliath). But, it was a smart 5-man team winning on the ROAD against a much deeper national power. Brains won out.
For Roy Williams, it was mostly a disaster. I mentioned up top I agree with how he handled the final seconds. Didn’t work…but it had probably a 50/50 chance of working, while trying to score out of a timeout has been shown to be around 25/75 the wrong way. The rest of the game?
*Willliams was content to let Duke control the pace, which is an INSANE choice when you have a personnel advantage.
*Williams wouldn’t double-team the ball even though that’s the most obvious way to counter-act what Duke was trying to do.
*Williams didn’t try to attack the Duke post when Plumlee got his fourth foul with just over 10 minutes to go. That should have been happening every time down!
*And, apparently, Williams hadn’t previously taught his players what to do in the final seconds if he doesn’t call a time out. They just ran around confused instead of attacking the basket. Maybe NC had no workable options because of poor preparation.
I did release Duke Wednesday night as a 10-unit play. I was furious after that early injury. Turned out that bad luck didn’t hurt us. Duke was such a great bet at +6.5 or +7 that they could lose a player and still cover. This is the power of understanding coaching strengths and weaknesses in college basketball. You students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping keep hearing about it from The Dean of Sports Handicapping. You’ll keep hearing about it! This season in particular, with so much parity of athletic talent, coaching will likely determine who covers pointspreads in the postseason.
(I want to quickly mention the job Tubby Smith is doing at Texas Tech. That was another winner for us Wednesday when they knocked off Oklahoma. Smith is a bit overmatched when you’re talking about the true elites. Maybe he’s a B or a B-minus coach. Not good enough if you want to have an “A” program. That still makes him a lot better than all the C’s, D’s, and F’s! Texas Tech is kind of a “D” program that’s been uplifted by hiring Smith. YOU must handicap the coaches!)
Who should you be betting in Las Vegas during this weekend’s blockbuster schedule? KELSO STURGEON’S top selections can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the Vegas Sports Masters’ office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155.
I’m always encouraging you to study while you watch the big games on TV. Don’t just root for your bet. Focus on what teams and coaches are doing correctly and incorrectly so you can win future bets. So many of you finally have your heads cleared of football. Go back to that in August! Right now, cashing tickets down the road to March Madness is your top priority. And, the nation’s best coaches are helping your humble teacher by running nightly clinics for you on ESPN. Whether it’s sports or handicapping, listen to what PROVEN WINNERS are saying!
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