The final solution to a hoops conundrum
In these trying times, there are great questions, and there are GREAT questions.
Hoopheads have long debated how to approach the final seconds of a ballgame ( up by three with seven seconds or less left) when the good guys (Illinois) have a three-point lead and the bad guys (Indiana, Duke, Michigan - take your pick) have the ball.
Foul intentionally or play rugged defense? You can win either way or lose either way. There are no guarantees. But there are percentages that inform the debate, and that's what Luke Winn's excellent Sports Illustrated article is about.
To me, it was a no-brainer even before I read the article. If the defense is executed properly (never a given - remember the 2010 K-State/Xavier NCAA Tournament game?), the intentional foul is the best way to prevent the trailing team from tying the game. Old-school types may disagree -- their solution always is to just get tough and never give anything away. Their imaginations run wild -- the trailing team will make the first free throw, miss the second free throw on purpose, grab the rebound and then score the tying basket -- all within just a few seconds. Of course, it can happen, but what are the odds? That's what Winn article is about. The numbers in basketball involve more than just the scoreboard.
This is real inside basketball. But if you love hoops and love the strategy, Winn's article is a must read.