Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: When is Enough Enough?

by Ray Floriani

NEWARK, NJ - The score was an attention grabber. The graphic of more turnovers than field goal attempts sealed it. North Carolina Central’s 117-28 loss to Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in women’s basketball needed a tempo free look.

The Possessions:

Efficiency and Factors:
Needless to say the TO rate and OE marks by NCCU are records in all my years of statistical and tempo free study.


The Duke web site billed this as the "battle of Durham" as both schools hail from that locale. NCCU is noted as the "first public liberal arts college founded for African Americans".

At the half the score was 65-9 Duke. The other scoring breakdowns are eye popping. Duke led 66-4 in points in the paint, The ACC reps had a 60-1 edge in points off turnovers and enjoyed a layup line like 57-2 bulge in fast break points.

NCCU was 9 of 41 (0 for 5 from three) from the field. As noted, the turnovers 45 exceeded field goal attempts. J’Mia Pollock paced the visitors with 6 points while Duke, led by Joy Cheek’s 16 points, had nine players in double figures.

Without seeing the game it would have been unfair to say Duke deliberately ran it up. The 80 something possession pace suggests the visitors might have been coerced into a faster game than planned. Joanna Miller, the NCCU point guard, was serving a one game suspension so prospects were not good for the visitors. The web site gave a good insight regarding the game, noting the "Duke full court press stifling the Eagles throughout the game". Why?

There is a right way to do it. The game was Monday evening. On Tuesday afternoon I attended a girls high school game between McNair (Jersey City) and Glen Ridge in North Arlington’s tournament. I got to know the McNair staff from doing their games at Hamilton Park this summer. Mostly first and second year players, they are in for a long season. They lost by about 30 today but left with some encouragement.

Glen Ridge pressed to open. Once the score was 21-0 after six minutes the press was gone for good. Glen Ridge sat in a zone, substituted freely and did not look to run or shoot threes.

At half time I saw the McNair AD who commended the opposition for what they were doing to keep things within reason. He also noted two earlier opponents kept pressing through the fourth quarter with a lead of 60.

The high school game has no clock and it is 32 minutes. Without a shot clock, like college, teams can use more minutes, limit possessions and do more to avoid those 60 or 89 point blow outs.

Even teams running away from their overmatched opponents have a right to press. Just put it away at halftime, the latest. If you are up 56 there’s no need to run or shoot threes (Duke was 5 of 9 the last 20 minutes).

Just heed the words of the late Al McGuire. "never run it up on your fellow coach. He is a member of your profession and someday you may march to the beat of his drummer."

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