Marshall Henderson

Why do I love when coaches don’t foul up three at the end of a game?

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I love when coaches are up three in the final seconds of a game and they don’t foul.

For me, it’s the best of both worlds.

On the one hand, it’s incredible for the game. If Kevin Stallings fouled up three, we never would have seen Marshall Henderson hit a 35-footer to force overtime just three seconds after Vandy had taken the lead. If Fred Hoiberg fouled up three, Ben McLemore wouldn’t have banked-in a three and, in the process, vaulted himself into the National Player of the Year discussion. If John Calipari fouled when he was up three, Mario Chalmers wouldn’t be a legend and Bill Self may be 0-2 against Cal in title games.

The list goes on.

And as a fan of the game first, foremost and always, there is quite literally nothing that makes me happier than seeing a great game get the gift of five free minutes of basketball because someone hit a deep three at the buzzer. That moment in time, when the ball is stuck hanging in the air and everyone — fans, players, coaches, refs, announcers, everyone — is waiting out those agonizing seconds, wondering if that shot will fall through the net is simply the best. The inherent beauty is the helplessness. Once the ball leaves the shooter’s hands, there’s nothing you can do but watch.

But there’s a second reason why I love when a coach decides not to foul up three. I’m a writer that writes about college basketball, and, in my mind, there is no reason for a coach not to foul in that situation.

The situation has to be right, mind you. You don’t want to foul in the front court, because you run the risk of bad timing and giving up three free throws. You don’t want to foul when there are more than about eight or ten seconds left, because there is too much time on the clock and two free throws is essentially the same thing as giving up a layup that extends the game. You don’t want to foul when there are less than two seconds because, again, you run the risk of giving up three free throws and the odds of actually being able to get a good look at the rim are fairly miniscule.

But when there’s enough time on the clock to get a good look at the rim?

So much has to happen in order for the game to go to overtime. The other team has to: a) make the first free throw, which is harder that you’d think in a pressure-packed situation like that; b) intentionally miss a free throw, which is something that basketball players simply are not wired to do; and c) get an offensive rebound off of that miss and find a way to score with just a couple of ticks left on the game clock.

Frankly, I’ll trust my players to box out on an intentionally-missed free throw instead of hoping that the best shooter on the other team misses a three.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
Associated Press
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
Associated Press
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.