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ice-9
04-06-2010, 12:01 PM
First of all, I love this team, this season and this national championship game. This thread is not meant to challenge what happened -- we won, and really that's all that matters -- but the intentionally missed free throw by Zoubek at the end of the game was a really interesting thing for me.

Judging by the discussion in the post-game thread, a lot of you agree. So what I would like to do is discuss that event separately from the national championship. This thread isn't about bringing down what was a marvelously played game, this thread is an intellectual exercise in thinking through the pros and cons of that coaching decision.

OK. That disclaimer aside, was the intentional miss really a good idea? It comes down to what you believe the probability of winning is with a miss and without a miss.

Without a miss, i.e. Zoubek makes it, let's say for argument's sake that Butler has a 33% chance of making a 3 to tie the game. Certainly they would have enough time to set up their offense and execute a play -- a play they've probably practiced many times. 33% is what Butler had shot in the game from 3 point range, but really with the game on the line and all that adrenaline, a player like Hayward or Mack could probably do better than 33%. But let's say it's 33%.

What's the probability then that Butler can win in overtime? Prior to the start of the game, KenPom had Duke winning at what...70%? 72% I don't remember the exact number, but I'd argue if at the end of 40 minutes of basketball the score is tied, the percentage is probably closer to 50%. Fine, you can make an argument that because we're deeper and they're more tired we'd likely do better in overtime. Let's say the probability is 40% that Butler wins in overtime. I'm comfortable with 40% as it was also the Butler win percentage KenPom had with about 45 seconds left in the game when Duke was up by only 1 point: http://www.kenpom.com/wp.php

This means that if Zoubek made the free throw, the probability that Butler wins is 33% x 40% = 13%.

So what's the probability of making a half court buzzer beater should Zoubek miss intentionally? With the intentional miss, the rebound was going to be unexpectedly long. The defender would have to be sharp to catch it, land and then turn to face the Duke basket. If it wasn't Hayward who caught the rebound, the rebounder would have to look for Hayward or Mack and then make a pass. All of this while Zoubek is there to block line of sight and force the dribbler off a linear path. Butler was in fact very lucky that it was Hayward who corralled the rebound instead of another player like Howard.

Even in this best case scenario (for Butler), Hayward still needed the entire 3 seconds to get to half court. What if Howard or another Butler player had gotten the rebound? Would they even have time to pass to Hayward or Mack? Or would the Center, who is mediocre from long range, attempt the buzzer beater? Then, on top of that, as Coach K mentioned in the press conference, the defense was set up so that Singler could bother the half court shot. Of course Howard was there to clobber him. But if Singler was there as he was supposed to be, he would've made what was already a difficult half court shot almost impossible.

So, bottom line, what is the probability of making that 45-47 foot shot under those circumstances?

I don't have access to any databases, but the All-Star Game provides a clue. In the 2009 NBA All-Star game, according to Wikipedia, the winning Detroit team in the Shooting Stars Competition hit the half court shot in seven tries, or 14%. But in the first round, Detroit needed 13 attempts for 8%. Even worse, San Antonio and the Lakers required over 15 shots each, or 7%. Team Phoenix? 22 shots, or 5%. These are all straight-line attempts made with less time pressure and with likely more energy -- i.e., these should be MUCh easier to make than the one Hayward took, which in turn was already the best case scenario for Butler. (You can argue that using WNBA and retired players brought those percentages down, but I don't think that outweighs the advantages they had that Hayward didn't have.)

Overall, in 2009, the half court shot percentage in the Shooting Stars Competition was 8%. Hayward's actual percentage under the game's difficult circumstances should be even lower, but let's assume then that the chances of winning the game for Butler after an intentional miss on a last second half court shot is 8%.

8% < 13%. Coach K, I bow down to you!

When we saw Hayward's shot hit the backboard and then the rim, it looked like he was close to making it. In reality, he wasn't. When you watch all those half court attempts in the All-Star game, a lot of shots clang off the rim just like Hayward's did. But it doesn't mean the shot was close to getting in, because in fact it went in only about 8% of the time.

When I first watched Zoubek intentially miss that free throw, I thought there was a serious breakdown in communication or that the coaching staff were off their rockers. It's only after I worked through the percentages that I realized they were onto something.

Still. If I was Coach K, I don't know if I'd have the guts to instruct an intentional miss. Because if the game turned out to be in that 8% and the half court shot went in...wow, I would never hear the end of it, from the media, analysts, fans... I don't know if I could live with that scenario. The mental anguish in that 8% would've been FAR greater than what it would be in the 13%.

Then again, I don't have 11 Final Fours or 4 national championships. I'm not Coach K. Duke nation thanks God for that. :D

NATIONAL CHAMPIONS BABY!!!

Shane05
04-06-2010, 12:15 PM
Nice post, very interesting, and I don't mean to detract from your great research by this short post, but my opinion boils down to this:

If you miss, Butler has a chance to win the game. If you make, the worst they can do is tie. That ALONE makes up my mind.

Coach K's argument that they had no timeouts and would've had to force a tough shot doesn't hold water, because that same lack of timeouts would've made it difficult for them to get a good shot even on an inbounds play.

So your two outcomes are:

1) Bad shot on a rebound, and they have a chance to win.
2) Bad shot on an inbounds play, and the worst they can do is tie.

I think it was a terrible decision, and I doubt you'll find many knowledgeable basketball minds who disagree.

greybeard
04-06-2010, 12:16 PM
As K pointed out, Kyle had Hayward covered and no shot would have been had, certainly not the look Hayward got off, had Kyle not gotten "killed" by a clearly illegal crack back block set by Hayward's teammate, Howard, right in front of the refs. So any discussion of the advisability of K's strategy that depends on what happened after the miss and looks back, has to take account of a horrendous performance by the refs, a performance one cannot expect with a Championship on the line.

In a regular game, I don't know the term that would have applied to the call, but it would have resulted in two shots and ball. It was a dangerous play in the extreme.

Second, K in the last three games was like freakin Stonewall Jackson in his strategies. He attacked Baylor from the outset going inside to the bigs and using Zoubek and Miles as pivots for offensive distribution. Against W. Virginia, he again crossed up the opposition with a fierce assault on the rim at the outset, an assault that I believe rocked West Virginia's confidence in their coach's ability to match K strategically.

That last play, the Zoubek miss, was again an attack. Singler had shut down Hayward all game, was and remains the vastly superior athlete including the intuitive thinker in a one-on-one confrontation, and K the general got the confrontation he wanted on his terms. Was it the cautious, the percentage play? No. He didn't get Duke where he got by making cautious, percentage decisions. He had his team playing pro actively; he counted on players to assert their superiority on the opposition. They did!

DukeFanInTerpLand
04-06-2010, 12:23 PM
Interesting analysis. The only thing I wish they had done is have Singler double up Hayward earlier. Even before the "screen", Singler was trailing the play a little and I think Hayward could have gotten the shot off in about the same manner. Zoubek did a nice job of slowing him down initially, but I wish Singler had been a little closer.

Clipsfan
04-06-2010, 12:24 PM
Nice post, very interesting, and I don't mean to detract from your great research by this short post, but my opinion boils down to this:

If you miss, Butler has a chance to win the game. If you make, the worst they can do is tie. That ALONE makes up my mind.

Coach K's argument that they had no timeouts and would've had to force a tough shot doesn't hold water, because that same lack of timeouts would've made it difficult for them to get a good shot even on an inbounds play.

So your two outcomes are:

1) Bad shot on a rebound, and they have a chance to win.
2) Bad shot on an inbounds play, and the worst they can do is tie.

I think it was a terrible decision, and I doubt you'll find many knowledgeable basketball minds who disagree.

I ran the same analysis quickly at the time the game ended and came to the same conclusion as the OP using close enough numbers (I didn't run the All-star research but assumed a 5% chance the desperation shot goes in). The assumption that the worst that can happen is a tie is a fallacy - the worst that can happen is a loss in OT. I fully agree with the last part of the OP's statement, though, which was that the loss on the half-court shot would be much more devastating emotionally (and in the press) than an OT loss. You see coaches make the smart, but unusual, plays rarely and when they don't work they receive a lot of flack (think Patriots going for it on 4th down at the end of the game against the Colts and not getting it). It doesn't change the fact that the numbers suggest that it's a smart play. Kudos to the OP for making the case clearly as to why it's the smart play.

tecumseh
04-06-2010, 12:29 PM
Do you really think it was an illegal screen? I looked like he was stationary. Imagine if he had hit the three and they had waved it off for offensive foul illegal screen

greybeard
04-06-2010, 12:29 PM
K has said until he is blue in the face that this run has not been about him and his storied past. It has not been about him as a coach. It is about a coach following the lead of his team, seeing what their tempermament and playing style dictated, measuring it at times from moment to moment.

Anyone who thinks that K could not have lived with second guessing had the shot gone in simply does not believe anything that the guy has had to say.

A surprise attack that depended on confidence in his athletes to prevent the very look that the kid got only because the refs did not do their jobs. Talking heads with their "what if" hypothicating and second guessing K without taking into account of the missed blatant foul against Kyle should not surprise. They are the same guys to a man who to a man had Duke going out early.

Have you listened to their soft-pedal excuses? Know what they say, "We thought that this was the same Duke team of past years." Why, these genuises in past years rightly had Duke going deeper in the tournament than it did. Stuff happens. So they bail out this year when anyone who has been watching had to see what has been developing and developing in Durham since that game against Maryland. How they think that they can get away with passing off their miss on how good this Duke team has been and is as anything but their shallowness as experts speaks only to well, their shallowness as experts.

A daring call by a daring coach who once again went for the element of surprise and put the game in the hands of his players, who had the play covered until the refs indefensibly blew a blatant-foul call committed in plain view of everyone.

Spam Filter
04-06-2010, 12:32 PM
I think people are hung up on "you can't lose by a desperation heave" theory.

But you know what, you can still lose in OT.

Coach K has never been about playing "not to lose", he plays to win.

InSpades
04-06-2010, 12:33 PM
I think your percentages are way off. You really think in less than 4 seconds Butler could get off a 33% 3-point shot after inbounding underneath their basket and Duke able to entirely ignore anything inside the 3-point arc?

You are also ignoring the potential to make the foul shot and then foul Butler on the inbounds. Personally I don't really love this idea but it is something else to consider. You'd put Butler in a position where they'd have to make the 1st free throw, intentionally miss the 2nd, get the rebound and score just to tie.

I just don't think the difference between the shot they'd get off w/ a miss and the shot they'd get off with a make is enough to counteract the extra point. If I'm Coach K I tell Zoubs to make the 2nd shot, and press the inbounds play.

CDu
04-06-2010, 12:33 PM
jyuwono, this is a great discussion point. But let's do a sensitivity analysis:

Let's say there's a 33% chance of making a 3 off an inbounds play and 14% chance of making a long three off a rebound (slightly different assumptions). Here's the analysis:

Intentional miss (assume 100% probability of missing):
14% chance of Butler winning.

Attempted make:
Assume a 60% chance of Zoubek making the FT (i.e., 40% chance of miss).

So 40% of the time, the scenario is exactly the same as the intentional miss scenario (14% chance of Butler winning).

The other 60% of the time, Butler gets the inbounds play. So there is a 33% chance of going to overtime. In overtime, let's assume it's a 40% chance of winning for Butler.

So the probability of Butler winning is:
60%*33%*40% + 40%*14% = 13.5%

So by those assumptions, Butler's probability of winning was LESS if Zoubek attempts to make the FT. The difference is very small, and the decision is VERY sensitive to the other assumptions, though. Bas

PADukeMom
04-06-2010, 12:36 PM
You are missing the 3rd possibility:

Zoubs makes both free throws. Butler inbounds with 3.6 seconds to play, Howard drains the 3 & is fouled. He makes the free throw & we lose by 1.

I am happy with the intentional miss if that is indeed what happened.

Starter
04-06-2010, 12:37 PM
Don't forget this -- Zoubek is a 52% foul shooter for the season. So there's a pretty decent chance he would have actually missed the second one, but probably a rim rattler and not an intentional one that caused a freakish long rebound and sent Hayward down the court on the gallop.

I don't know, he should have tried to hit the shot. I want to leave no chance that Butler hits a three to win the National Title.

PensDevil
04-06-2010, 12:37 PM
I liked the call at the end as well. IMO the intentional miss was the risk taken in playing to win, whereas making the second free throw (not a guaranteed make either) is more like playing not to lose. A Butler 3 to tie at the buzzer gives them all the momentum going into OT and sends the crowd into a frenzy.

Starter
04-06-2010, 12:39 PM
whereas making the second free throw (not a guaranteed make either) is more like playing not to lose

I realize this sort of contradicts what I just said, but I can't see how scoring more points is playing not to lose.

If they really wanted to get cute, they could have attempted to hit the shot, and if successful, foul after the inbounds up 3 with like a second left.

Chicago 1995
04-06-2010, 12:47 PM
If there are 2.6 on the clock, I think the strategy is brilliant. Heyward's heave is from three quarter court and I think those are all odds we'd be willing to take.

If there are 4.6 on the clock, Heyward probably gets a look -- maybe even clean given the screen -- from 25 and none of us wanted that.

3.6 is a gray area that make who gets the rebound somewhat important. The original poster is right that had Howard boarded rather than Heyward, they have less time to shoot and they get off a worse shot. Had Zoubek not bodied up Heyward, however, he probably gets a better look. It worked this time, and I think it was probably the right call, but 3.6 seconds is the outer boundary of the intentional miss I think.

Reilly
04-06-2010, 12:53 PM
I posted this this morning in the post-game thread. Will re-post here now:

You play to win the game, not to get to OT.

What is Zís chance of making the 2d FT if he tries to make it? .... I say 60%.

What is Dukeís chance of winning if Butler hits a 3 to send the game to OT? .... I say 60%.

What is Butlerís chance of making a 3 off a missed FT (scramble play) versus Butlerís chance of making a 3 from an inbounds play? ... I say 1% off of a scramble play and 2% off of an inbounds play.

The formula.

1. Z intentionally misses the FT.

Butler has a .01 chance of winning the game. (1% chance of hitting the 3 on the scramble play, and we lose).

2. Z tries to make the FT.

Butler has a .088 chance of winning the game. ((40% Z misses anyway * 1% they hit scramble 3 for win) + (60% Z makes it * 2% they make inbounds 3 to tie * .40% Butler wins in OT)).

So, using my values, I would have had Z try to make the FT.

However, if you believe Butler is three times as likely to make a 3 off a set-inbounds play than it is off a scramble play (say, 3% to 1% rather than the 2% to 1% I used), and the other values are the same (60% Z makes it; 60% chance we win in OT) .... then it makes sense to try to miss the FT on purpose.

The strategic call was not unreasonable. Depends on what you believe the various probabilities were.

InSpades
04-06-2010, 12:54 PM
No one from Duke tried to get the rebound on the free throw... so if Howard had gotten the rebound what would Duke have done? If Zoubs goes towards Howard then it's just a quick pass to Heyward and I think he still gets the same quick start up the court. Obviously he's probably not there to set the pick on Singler though.

It seems like in all of those situations you should just double team the ball. If you force any sort of pass from Heyward in that situation there's no way they get off such a good shot. Must be easier said than done though because we all remember Evan Turner's last second shot which was very similiar.

arnie
04-06-2010, 12:54 PM
Nice post, very interesting, and I don't mean to detract from your great research by this short post, but my opinion boils down to this:

If you miss, Butler has a chance to win the game. If you make, the worst they can do is tie. That ALONE makes up my mind.

Coach K's argument that they had no timeouts and would've had to force a tough shot doesn't hold water, because that same lack of timeouts would've made it difficult for them to get a good shot even on an inbounds play.

So your two outcomes are:

1) Bad shot on a rebound, and they have a chance to win.
2) Bad shot on an inbounds play, and the worst they can do is tie.

I think it was a terrible decision, and I doubt you'll find many knowledgeable basketball minds who disagree.

I must have bad basketball mind because I think what K did was perfect in that situation. With no timeouts left, Butler can't set up for a reasonable shot. With a Butler timeout remaining, then K doesn't have Zoubs miss. I never have liked playing to do no worse than OT.

ice-9
04-06-2010, 12:55 PM
I think your percentages are way off. You really think in less than 4 seconds Butler could get off a 33% 3-point shot after inbounding underneath their basket and Duke able to entirely ignore anything inside the 3-point arc?

This is an excellent point, and one that I wrestled with quite a bit. Is 33% the right number? I went with it because most teams would have practiced buzzer beater plays after a made basket -- surely Butler would've given their low scoring style and the fact that they were in the Final Four. 3.6 seconds is not much time, but it's enough time.

In any case, even if we lower the percentage, it's still better to intentionally miss the free throw as long as it's above 20%.

20% x 40% = 8%.

Can Butler execute a play to get a 3-point shot with >20% probability of making it? 20% somehow feels low to me.


You are also ignoring the potential to make the foul shot and then foul Butler on the inbounds. Personally I don't really love this idea but it is something else to consider. You'd put Butler in a position where they'd have to make the 1st free throw, intentionally miss the 2nd, get the rebound and score just to tie.

True, but I wanted to keep the analysis simple. In that scenario, you'd also have to consider the possibility that the shot to tie could be a 3-point shot to win.


I just don't think the difference between the shot they'd get off w/ a miss and the shot they'd get off with a make is enough to counteract the extra point. If I'm Coach K I tell Zoubs to make the 2nd shot, and press the inbounds play.

That's the beauty of this thread! Because there are compelling arguments for and against the decision.


It seems like in all of those situations you should just double team the ball. If you force any sort of pass from Heyward in that situation there's no way they get off such a good shot. Must be easier said than done though because we all remember Evan Turner's last second shot which was very similiar.

For that Evan Turner shot, I believe it was off a set play and that Turner was able to get well past half court; i.e. more 40 feet than 47. To me that seems like the kind of play that has >20% chance of success and it's one that Butler could've pulled off had Zoubek made his second free throw.

Fish80
04-06-2010, 12:56 PM
Thanks to all for their statistical analysis.

I don't think that Coach K was doing calculations to make his decision. The intentional miss (if indeed intentional)

(1) forced Butler to use clock getting the ball up court rather than have the clock start when touched on a long pass and

(2) put the game more into the players hands and less under the refs control.

But has Coach K said that he told Brian to miss? In the post game presser, when asked if he missed intentionally Brian said "yup" and further when asked if he was free lancing he said "no, definitely not freelancing". The implication is that he was instructed to miss. Has K said anything to confirm that?

DukeCrow
04-06-2010, 12:56 PM
All of this talk of probabilities is nice, but what this really comes down to is risk management. That's what K does when he starts running his slow down offense when leading towards the end of the game. And that is what you want to do when managing end of game situations, as well (in my opinion).

The quants on Wall Street dealt in risk and probabilities but failed to pay attention to the most important thing -- not blowing up. In basketball, losing the game on a buzzer beating shot would be the equivalent of "blowing up" because the losing team has no chance of recovery. The game is over. There is no "next play." This is especially true in the NCAA tournament.

Any end of game strategy should take into account the probability of "blowing up." Going to overtime and possibly losing isn't the same as the possibility of losing on a buzzer beater. Going to overtime is not a "catastrophic" event because you're still playing and have a chance to win. But losing on a buzzer beater ends the game and the season. You need to avoid that at all costs, and then play the probabilities in order to maximize your chances of winning.

Maximize your chances of winning while minimizing your chances of a catastrophic loss. That's what risk management (and end game management) is all about, in my opinion.

DevilHorns
04-06-2010, 12:57 PM
Keep in mind Butler pretty much MAXIMIZED their attempt with their last shot. The ball was speedily redirected upcourt by Heyward and Howard set a perfect illegal pick to give Heyward that open look.

I think in 10 scenarios with this purposeful missed FT something like this happens 1-2 times. The other times the ball cannot be taken down the court as effectively and then you have a shot thats considerably lower % (defense on the player, or not lined up with the basket, etc).

3 seconds is plenty of time to get the ball up on a DESIGNED play from the inbounds. They are considerably more likely to have a lined up shot in this scenario. And you are damn well sure Butler (and any tourney team) has a play designed for this exact scenario.

I hope Bill Simmons does an article about this decision. I think it was a great one, and it went completely wrong for us (they got the ball exceedingly fast to Heyward and he got a wide open look from half court).. and AND they still missed.

Underdog5
04-06-2010, 01:00 PM
I didn't like the intentional miss. My concern was that some slight contact on a 50/50 ball off the rim or in advancing the ball up the floor results in a whistle (not one to harp on refs but they were definitely giving the underdog the benefit of the whistle). Now they are at the line with a chance to tie the game.

I know the thinking is that every team has an end off game out of bounds hail mary pass for a good look in their playbook and nobody practices an end of game rebound to a shot play and so the confusion reduces the opponents chances. But we were about 6 inches from being on the wrong end of that confusion. Would have preferred to eliminate the chance for a loss but we won so K is still a genius in my book.

jacone21
04-06-2010, 01:00 PM
I believe that, like me, K just couldn't stomach the idea of overtime. I know I would have gone supernova and perhaps ceased to exist. Thus, K went all in and won the game. Maybe it wasn't the "correct" and "safe" call, but you know what? Sometimes you have to go with your gut and let things happen. I like the way it ended.

Scorp4me
04-06-2010, 01:01 PM
If they really wanted to get cute, they could have attempted to hit the shot, and if successful, foul after the inbounds up 3 with like a second left.

Agreed, I think someone did this earlier in the tournament to win and if I'm not mistaken wasn't it Butler? Wouldn't that have been an ironic ending.

BD80
04-06-2010, 01:02 PM
jyuwono, this is a great discussion point. But let's do a sensitivity analysis:

Let's say there's a 33% chance of making a 3 off an inbounds play and 14% chance of making a long three off a rebound (slightly different assumptions). Here's the analysis:

Intentional miss (assume 100% probability of missing):
14% chance of Butler winning.

Attempted make:
Assume a 60% chance of Zoubek making the FT (i.e., 40% chance of miss).

So 40% of the time, the scenario is exactly the same as the intentional miss scenario (14% chance of Butler winning).

The other 60% of the time, Butler gets the inbounds play. So there is a 33% chance of going to overtime. In overtime, let's assume it's a 40% chance of winning for Butler.

So the probability of Butler winning is:
60%*33%*40% + 40%*14% = 13.5%

So by those assumptions, Butler's probability of winning was LESS if Zoubek attempts to make the FT. The difference is very small, and the decision is VERY sensitive to the other assumptions, though. Bas

Was there any chance that Z gets the rebound on a missed free throw?


Mike Greenberg was going on, and on, and on, ... about the WORST that could happen if Z made the second free throw was overtime. I didn't realize that games could end in a tie.

Another issues is the number of timeouts remaining. I don't think we had one, and I wouldn't have take one anyway to give Butler a chance to plan for its options. Without a timeout, I would be less comfortable instructing the team to intentionally foul on the inbound pass (assuming Z made the second FT), and putting the game into the hands of the refs -where they could call a shooting foul or an intentional foul - particularly if Butler gets to run an inbound play and catch the ball much farther downcourt (remember "Pacer" and Bryce Drew's shot for Valpo with 2.5 seconds in '98?) or at least catch it moving fast toward the offensive end ala Ty Edney (went the length of the court in 4.8 seconds in '95).

InSpades
04-06-2010, 01:02 PM
Thanks to all for their statistical analysis.

I don't think that Coach K was doing calculations to make his decision. The intentional miss (if indeed intentional)

(1) forced Butler to use clock getting the ball up court rather than have the clock start when touched on a long pass and

(2) put the game more into the players hands and less under the refs control.

But has Coach K said that he told Brian to miss? In the post game presser, when asked if he missed intentionally Brian said "yup" and further when asked if he was free lancing he said "no, definitely not freelancing". The implication is that he was instructed to miss. Has K said anything to confirm that?

On your point #2... I think going up by 3 and guaranteeing at worst overtime is the best way to put the game under your players control. Being up by 2 put the game entirely in Butler's control (can they hit a miracle shot? if so they win).

As for the presser... I think it was very obvious that K told Brian to miss. He said something along the lines of "Brian always does what he's told" in a joking manner afterwards. I can't imagine Brian would take it upon himself to intentionally miss a free throw.

Lippl
04-06-2010, 01:05 PM
If you have a 1 point lead in that situation I think missing is the right call. Whether you're up 1 or 2, you still lose on a long 3.

With a 2 point lead, though, I think I'd rather make the third, then foul on the inbounds if they get the ball close to halfcourt and make them hit a FT and then get a tipin to tie. Put Zoubek on the inbounder on the baseline, remember Butler had no timeouts left. They might not even get a good pass in.

One other thing that I questioned in the last few seconds - originally at 13.6 sec K had Zoubek guarding Hayward as the inbounder. Did anybody else flash back to Laettner v. UConn 1990? I didn't like the choice given that Zoubek would have had a difficult time staying with Hayward had he managed to get the ball inbounds. I would have rather had Singler or Thomas guarding Hayward's inbound pass there. Of course Butler wound up using their last timeout, so it worked out great.

Starter
04-06-2010, 01:05 PM
I honestly don't care about math, and projections -- I care about winning basketball games. That shot almost went down, and then you can have all the equations you want. But you wouldn't have a national title.

Nobody's really answered why they shouldn't have had Zoubek legitimately attempt the free throw, and then foul after the inbound pass. Barring a ridiculous Kentucky-Miss. State fluke -- which included a Wall violation that wasn't called -- I'd have to think that would be a strategy that would be far more likely to work. I don't get the rhetoric that making the free throw wouldn't have been an attempt to win, but one not to lose. But I'm not nearly as good at math, so I couldn't give you numbers on it.

I love Mike Krzyzewski, as you all do. How could I not? I've been in his house, met his family, and he's done so much for my college team -- and for Team USA basketball! (I love Team USA basketball, for real) But I can't defend using that strategy in that situation, to expose yourself to a potential shot that was about a quarter of an inch from losing a championship. Of course I'd take overtime over that result if it came to that. One can only look at his reaction at the postgame presser when Zoubek confirmed that was a bench call.

If that shot goes in, are you still defending the strategy? I guess you could, but it would be absurd. I think not enough can be said about the coaching job Krzyzewski did to build this team and to coach them all season. But that doesn't mean that the strategy we're discussing was correct. It wasn't. It worked out.

Let's go Duke.

RPS
04-06-2010, 01:06 PM
[T]he intentionally missed free throw by Zoubek at the end of the game was a really interesting thing for me.It's very interesting, I agree. I disagree with your starting assumptions, however. I think a 33% assumption is way too high. There's not enough time. Your numbers also assume that, had he tried to make it, BZ would have made the shot. I'll also note that those who expect the refs to make a call on the pick are engaging in wishful thinking; that call in that situation is highly unlikely not matter what teams are involved. Since risk management should be about avoiding the unacceptable outcome rather than enhancing one's chances for success, theoretically I think K made the wrong call. What we don't know and can't know is the psychology of the team and how different approaches would have played out in that regard.

dukeimac
04-06-2010, 01:09 PM
Coach K's response was to cover Zo. I don't believe K told him to miss, that was Zo's thinking and I believe Coach K wanted to take him off the hook.

If it was planned he would have stated so. He did state he felt comfortable with it and that the shot would have been a miracle shot. My first response when I watched the press conference live was that he was covering for Zo. He focused in on the screen that Kyle was hit with. Pointed out that when the reporter was talking about the screen he was correct in stating that Kyle was hit hard (something like that). He tried to re-focus the discussion.

But having read Coach's books and watching him for almost 30 years now plus the "shot", no way Coach calls for the missed free-throw. He knew the math, both free throws result in, at worse, a tie game and over time. He knows about miracles.

Starter
04-06-2010, 01:11 PM
Coach K's response was to cover Zo. I don't believe K told him to miss, that was Zo's thinking and I believe Coach K wanted to take him off the hook.


Zoubek said it was a bench call.

Reilly
04-06-2010, 01:13 PM
If that shot goes in, are you still defending the strategy? I guess you could, but it would be absurd.

Yes, I'm still defending the strategy if I believed the coach picked the strategy that I believed gave us the best chance to win. All the coach can do before the play is pick the path he believes gives us the greatest chance of victory. See my post above. On this question, I would have chosen to shoot the FT legit and try to make it, based on the values I assigned. However, jigger the numbers just a bit (which is easily reasonable to do) and the strategy that was used looks like the 'smart' one. Add the third scenario you mention -- make the FT and foul -- and insert the numbers, and that may indeed have been the greatest probability of victory, depending on how you assess certain factors.

DevilHorns
04-06-2010, 01:13 PM
Coach K's response was to cover Zo. I don't believe K told him to miss, that was Zo's thinking and I believe Coach K wanted to take him off the hook.

If it was planned he would have stated so. He did state he felt comfortable with it and that the shot would have been a miracle shot. My first response when I watched the press conference live was that he was covering for Zo. He focused in on the screen that Kyle was hit with. Pointed out that when the reporter was talking about the screen he was correct in stating that Kyle was hit hard (something like that). He tried to re-focus the discussion.

But having read Coach's books and watching him for almost 30 years now plus the "shot", no way Coach calls for the missed free-throw. He knew the math, both free throws result in, at worse, a tie game and over time. He knows about miracles.

Interesting theory. I saw the press conference and to me it did not look that way at all.

CDu
04-06-2010, 01:15 PM
In any case, even if we lower the percentage, it's still better to intentionally miss the free throw as long as it's above 20%.

20% x 40% = 8%.

Can Butler execute a play to get a 3-point shot with >20% probability of making it? 20% somehow feels low to me.

Actually, if you lower the percentage of making it off an inbounds play, you make it more likely that trying to MAKE the free throw is the right idea:

Intentional miss: 8% chance of Butler winning (based on your assumptions)

Attempted make:
60% make FT * 20% * 40% + 40% miss FT * 8% = 0.08

The smaller the difference between the probability of a made 3 between the inbounds scenario and the "scramble" scenario the more likely it is that attempting to make the FT is the right decision.

And as has been said, this doesn't consider two additional sub-scenarios after a make:
1. you foul a 3pt shooter and he makes it
2. you foul a dribbler and give them only two free throws.

BD80
04-06-2010, 01:15 PM
Thanks to all for their statistical analysis.

I don't think that Coach K was doing calculations to make his decision. The intentional miss (if indeed intentional)

(1) forced Butler to use clock getting the ball up court rather than have the clock start when touched on a long pass and

(2) put the game more into the players hands and less under the refs control.But has Coach K said that he told Brian to miss? In the post game presser, when asked if he missed intentionally Brian said "yup" and further when asked if he was free lancing he said "no, definitely not freelancing". The implication is that he was instructed to miss. Has K said anything to confirm that?

Scheyer was interviewed on First and Ten, and said he heard conflicting instructions from the bench. It sounded like Zoubs was instructed to intentionally miss the second if he missed the first (clearly the right choice because a two point lead wouldn't have mattered since Butler was not likely to get close enough in 3.6 seconds to take a two-point shot).

However, the instructions may have been different once he made the first - but were not clearly communicated.

Starter
04-06-2010, 01:19 PM
Scheyer was interviewed on First and Ten, and said he heard conflicting instructions from the bench. It sounded like Zoubs was instructed to intentionally miss the second if he missed the first (clearly the right choice because a two point lead wouldn't have mattered since Butler was not likely to get close enough in 3.6 seconds to take a two-point shot).

However, the instructions may have been different once he made the first - but were not clearly communicated.

Could be.

CDu
04-06-2010, 01:19 PM
Was there any chance that Z gets the rebound on a missed free throw?


Mike Greenberg was going on, and on, and on, ... about the WORST that could happen if Z made the second free throw was overtime. I didn't realize that games could end in a tie.

Another issues is the number of timeouts remaining. I don't think we had one, and I wouldn't have take one anyway to give Butler a chance to plan for its options. Without a timeout, I would be less comfortable instructing the team to intentionally foul on the inbound pass (assuming Z made the second FT), and putting the game into the hands of the refs -where they could call a shooting foul or an intentional foul - particularly if Butler gets to run an inbound play and catch the ball much farther downcourt (remember "Pacer" and Bryce Drew's shot for Valpo with 2.5 seconds in '98?) or at least catch it moving fast toward the offensive end ala Ty Edney (went the length of the court in 4.8 seconds in '95).

We had nobody else in the lane (or at least nobody but Zoubek tried for the rebound). The odds of the shooter getting the miss are VERY small. Further, there's the possibility that Zoubek gets an over-the-back call if he tries harder to get the rebound. I'm guessing the probability of Zoubek getting the rebound is smaller than the probability of Zoubek getting called for a foul.

Troublemaker
04-06-2010, 01:23 PM
If you make, the worst they can do is tie.

Ask UNC fans about the 2007 regional final and what their chances in overtime were against Georgetown. Ask Memphis fans about the 2008 national championship and what their chances in overtime were against Kansas after the Chalmers shot. Both teams lost a late lead, went to overtime, and got pasted by their opponent. It is emotionally jarring to lose a late lead and go into overtime, especially on a buzzer-beater shot [as was the case with the Chalmers shot and would've been the case against Butler if Duke had a 3-pt lead], and most teams aren't in the right frame of mind to play the overtime period.

Consider also the events leading up to the last possession. Nolan had just missed a layup a couple of possessions ago. Kyle had nearly air-balled a wide-open 15-footer on the previous possession and traveled on another late possession. Z in the postgame press conference lamented a couple of rebounds late that he couldn't grab. Duke, as is, was already tightening up late in the game [which isn't a criticism by me, by the way, as I realize that the vast majority of human beings would feel the pressure in such a tense, amazing game, and Duke overall played great, as did Butler]. I really don't think we wanted any part of overtime, especially if Butler had hit a buzzer-beater to tie and been buoyed by a raucous crowd, and I think it's possible our guys would've ended up thinking too much about some missed opportunities late and tightened up even more. Our true odds of winning in overtime were much less than 50/50, imo.

With all that said, I don't know whether I agree or disagree with Coach K's decision to miss the second FT on purpose. My gut tells me that I would've asked Z to try and make the FT [no guarantee he would make it, of course] and then have the team try to foul immediately after what probably would've been a long pass attempt to at least the midcourt area on the Butler inbounds, but I really don't know if that is the correct percentage decision. The emotions and the mindset of our players as to what they could execute at that point in time and what they could execute in a possible overtime play such a large role in the decision. The emotions are complicated and something we can't simulate and can only hazard a guess at, as I did above.

By asking Z to miss the free throw, Coach K also simplified what had to be done on the court. Instead of having two possible avenues of action (1. guard the inbounds attempt on a made FT; 2. guard the rebounder on a missed FT), K reduced it to one avenue. The value added of this task simplification in a such tense game could be meaningless or could be large. It's hard to say.

Again, I have no idea what the the correct percentage play was. It's complicated with many factors involved. I only know that we ended up forcing a halfcourt shot that missed, making me very happy.

Spam Filter
04-06-2010, 01:27 PM
People keep saying, "the worst thing that can happen is a tie".

No, the worst thing that can happen is tie, and then we lose in OT.

DukeFanInTerpLand
04-06-2010, 01:29 PM
Someone in this thread made an interesting point that Butler maximized their opportunity here. They got the rebound clean and in the hands of the right player. He was able to dribble relatively unimpeded up the court, and the shot almost went in.

Would we even have this thread if say, Singler was able to stay in front of Hayward, slowing him down and forcing a even longer, and contested shot? What if Howard had gotten the rebound and was forced to pass? etc. etc. We are looking at these probabilities based on the (almost) best possible outcome of events for Butler. There are many, many things that could have gone wrong to slow down Hayward just enough.

I like the call the more and more I think about it. 3.6 seconds is plenty of time for an inbounds play.

Mal
04-06-2010, 01:30 PM
Agreed with DevilHorns above. I think if we take one more factor into account which, in execution, didn't happen for us, it makes the intentional miss a better statistical proposition. What probably shouldn't have happened was (i) Hayward getting the rebound uncontested, (ii) almost at the free throw line, with (iii) the opportunity to go to his right and shoot from halfcourt in 3 seconds after getting a screen. My first thought after the final shot clanged off was "they shouldn't get that good of a look under the circumstances."

I think the basic decision was a good one, but I think Zoubek's missed shot should be lofted and aimed at the side of the rim, not ripped straight forward, and should go opposite where the most dangerous opponent is lined up. Banging it hard off the rim leads to unpredictibility, which does of course increase our chance of coming up with the rebound (game over), but in a situation where you're not sending anyone to really go after it for fear of fouling Butler, that's not much of a chance. As it is, we put Lance in the lane, but the way Butler set up, we could have prevented Hayward from ever touching the ball by simply putting Lance on the other side and telling him not to go for the ball but just to gently box out Hayward. If we force Howard to catch that ball, their odds of making a miracle shot are cut at least in half. Similarly, if Nored or whoever it was on the other side of the lane, gets it but gets it on the baseline instead of eight feet out, the buzzer shot is that much longer. Also, an arching shot leading to a high bouncing rebound allows Singler to get a running start toward a likely shot position after judging where it's going to land, rather than the ball ending up in a shooter's hands before anyone can even get moving on the perimeter.

All in all, a lot more fun to discuss this as a purely academic item than in light of it mattering, right? :)

FWIW, I think fatigue and momentum probably mattered in the decisionmaking, too. Butler's guys were tired, too, but our starters were out there the entire final 15 minutes and we had foul trouble. Had we been forced to overtime, the crowd frenzy would not have helped after we gave away a 5 point lead in the final 90 seconds of regulation. Regardless of the mental toughness of this team.

Also, I'm not upset with Howard screening Singler and not getting called for it, in and of itself. Kyle wasn't going to seriously contest the shot, anyway, as he was a full step behind, not looking to risk a foul, and Hayward was going to his right. And no ref is going to call something off the ball in the deciding seconds. But that cuts both ways. What *#%$es me off is the way Howard launched himself at a player who was not in position to impact the shot, lowered his shoulder into his chops, and got away with it when under any other circumstance he gets T'ed up. And I think he knew it. He did not set up in Kyle's path and stand his ground. He sought out a moving defensive player and initiated contact, and made that contact violent. It was not a basketball play. It was a football play. A cheap shot that adds an unnecessary blemish to what was otherwise a clean and classy game.

RPS
04-06-2010, 01:30 PM
Yes, I'm still defending the strategy if I believed the coach picked the strategy that I believed gave us the best chance to win. All the coach can do before the play is pick the path he believes gives us the greatest chance of victory.This is the heart of the controversy. I think the objective isn't to enhance the likelihood of success; it's to avoid catasthrophic failure. A buzzer-beater is catasthrophic failure; overtime means we play on. We can still lose, obviously, but we keep playing. But again, this approach doesn't consider the psychology of the team, which could change everything.

Reilly
04-06-2010, 01:45 PM
The object is to win the game, not to avoid catastrophic failure. Period. Your point can still be accounted for ... use the formulas in my post, and jigger the numbers so Duke's chances of winning in OT are 10% due to their psychological state ... and continue with the analysis. Making the FT can still be the right call (I thought it was when I assigned values). The point, however, is to win.

rsvman
04-06-2010, 01:50 PM
If that shot goes in, are you still defending the strategy? I guess you could, but it would be absurd. .

It is NOT absurd to defend a failed strategy.

Think about it this way. There is no approach to the situation that represents a 100% foolproof way to win the game. Therefore, all strategies are potentially subject to failure. So, by your logic, NO APPROACH can be logically defended.

Does that make sense to you?

What you're suggesting is that if an approach fails, it must have been the wrong approach. This doesn't make sense, because the approach has to be chosen before the outcome is known, and no approach is foolproof.

The flip side of your statement that I quoted above is that all approaches that SUCCEED must be correct. In that case, why are you not wholeheartedly praising the choice that was made? It succeeded, right? And therefore it was a good strategy.

You can't choose one side of the coin without choosing the other. So your statement is logically inconsistent.

CDu
04-06-2010, 01:55 PM
This is the heart of the controversy. I think the objective isn't to enhance the likelihood of success; it's to avoid catasthrophic failure. A buzzer-beater is catasthrophic failure; overtime means we play on. We can still lose, obviously, but we keep playing. But again, this approach doesn't consider the psychology of the team, which could change everything.

The objective is ALWAYS to enhance the likelihood of success. Catastrophic failure and non-catastrophic failure are still failures. You go with the strategy that gives you the best chance to win (and honestly, I don't know which is better because it's so dependent upon probabilities of events for which I don't have strong estimates), not the strategy that minimizes your chance of losing in the most heartbreaking fashion.

CDu
04-06-2010, 01:59 PM
If that shot goes in, are you still defending the strategy? I guess you could, but it would be absurd.

That's not a very sound argument in my opinion. You decisions based on the probability of an outcome. In either case, there's a chance of winning and a chance of losing. Ultimately, the outcome that occurs is just one of a nearly infinite number of potential scenarios that could occur. The resulting outcome does not prove that either strategy is right or wrong.

It sounds weird, I know, but to analyze the decision you have to ignore the outcome and consider the probabilities of the various outcomes for each decision. There is an empirically correct answer based on the probabilities of the potential outcomes. I don't know which decision is correct, and to be honest I would say it is VERY difficult to confidently say which decision that is (it would require a lot of data and a lot of calculations). But that answer is the correct decision regardless of the subsequent outcome.

You make a decision that maximizes the probability that you win, with the understanding that there is a probability of losing with any decision you make.

rsvman
04-06-2010, 02:03 PM
That's not a very sound argument in my opinion. You decisions based on the probability of an outcome. In either case, there's a chance of winning and a chance of losing. Ultimately, the outcome that occurs is just one of a nearly infinite number of potential scenarios that could occur. The resulting outcome does not prove that either strategy is right or wrong.

It sounds weird, I know, but to analyze the decision you have to ignore the outcome and consider the probabilities of the various outcomes for each decision. There is an empirically correct answer based on the probabilities of the potential outcomes. I don't know which decision is correct, and to be honest I would say it is VERY difficult to confidently say which decision that is (it would require a lot of data and a lot of calculations). But that answer is the correct decision regardless of the subsequent outcome.

You make a decision that maximizes the probability that you win, with the understanding that there is a probability of losing with any decision you make.

Yep. See my earlier post (#45 in this thread) for more details about this.

Starter
04-06-2010, 02:04 PM
What you're suggesting is that if an approach fails, it must have been the wrong approach. This doesn't make sense, because the approach has to be chosen before the outcome is known, and no approach is foolproof.


No, you might have missed it. I'm saying there was a better strategy to use, and that I was alarmed at the prospect of them opting to miss the free throw even before they did it. The logic of this strategy is inherently flawed because you're intentionally leaving the door open for you to lose, while the worst possible scenario would have been to go to overtime otherwise. (Or they could have fouled if Butler had been able to get the inbounds pass in cleanly, which would have made the chance of victory that much more, while considering their existing three-point lead)

If this was the decision -- to intentionally leave an outcome on the table where you can lose the national title -- then yes, that would have been indefensible in the case of a loss. In fact, I believe it's very difficult to defend even though they won.

But if there were truly mixed signals as BD80 pointed out there might have been, it would make a lot more sense for Krzyzewski than to have not made the obvious prudent call.

Starter
04-06-2010, 02:08 PM
That's not a very sound argument in my opinion. You decisions based on the probability of an outcome.

Sure, but what's your probability of losing in regulation if Brian hits the second free throw? Pretty much zero. What's your probability if he misses it? With the ball in the air last night, I'd say considerably higher.

What am I missing here?

And I'll add that with no timeouts, it's not like they could have come up with some brilliant Bryce Drew-ian play off an inbounds. It's not like they'd get a markedly better look at a three if Zoubek had hit the shot. In fact, they would have had to find a way to get the ball to their best player, rather than having him get it himself and take matters into his own hands.

Bluedog
04-06-2010, 02:08 PM
I asked Coach K last nite about missing 2nd FT. Said he did not want OT: "This was a game u could not play things by the book."

http://twitter.com/SETHDAVISHOOPS

Personally, I liked the intentional miss, but it certainly was a gutsy call. At least we didn't fall back into a 1-3-1 zone a la Michigan vs Ohio St!

CDu
04-06-2010, 02:14 PM
Sure, but what's your probability of losing in regulation if Brian hits the second free throw? Pretty much zero. What's your probability if he misses it? With the ball in the air last night, I'd say considerably higher

But why does winning/losing in regulation ultimately matter? We still could have won/lost in overtime. Losing in regulation is no different than losing in overtime. The only consideration in the decision should be that we are deciding between a decreased risk of losing immediately and an increased risk of losing later. The only question is whether we decrease the risk of losing immediately more than we increase the risk of losing later.

I'm on record as saying that I don't know which decision is/was the correct decision. I probably lean toward making that second free throw. But basing it on the outcome that ensued is not sound.

KandG
04-06-2010, 02:16 PM
A mathematical argument on K's decision put forth by the author of "Mathletics" and former Dallas Mavericks analytics person:

http://waynewinston.com/wordpress/?p=558

Basically you can go either way.

Starter
04-06-2010, 02:25 PM
I'm on record as saying that I don't know which decision is/was the correct decision. I probably lean toward making that second free throw. But basing it on the outcome that ensued is not sound.

We're not going to agree on much here except for leaning toward making that second free throw. But I think we can agree on this: Thank God Hayward missed. :cool: I think I'm done with all this, it really is no longer important. I think the best thing is to enjoy a richly deserved and hard-earned championship.

banneheim
04-06-2010, 02:27 PM
Why was Thomas not on the FT line to attempt to get the Off.Reb? Possibly, not to foul. All I know is that I wish Zoubs would of hit the 2nd FT, so 2 years would not have ticked off my life. It was a gutsy call and we play to win! However, when I saw the bounce right into Haywood's hands and Singler picked ILLEGALLY, my heart sank into my stomach only to jump into joy. I will be seeing my cardiologist today.

TheBrianZoubekExperience
04-06-2010, 02:35 PM
I didn't like the intentional miss. My concern was that some slight contact on a 50/50 ball off the rim or in advancing the ball up the floor results in a whistle (not one to harp on refs but they were definitely giving the underdog the benefit of the whistle). Now they are at the line with a chance to tie the game.

I know the thinking is that every team has an end off game out of bounds hail mary pass for a good look in their playbook and nobody practices an end of game rebound to a shot play and so the confusion reduces the opponents chances. But we were about 6 inches from being on the wrong end of that confusion. Would have preferred to eliminate the chance for a loss but we won so K is still a genius in my book.

Yup, that was my main problem with the call. Zoubek did a great job of slowing down Heyward after he got the rebound without fouling him. But Z could have easily got overexcited and fouled or Heyward could have make a move right into him and gotten a call. I would have preferred to have Z hit the FT or try to hit it. I doubt they give Butler a BS call in a game like that but Heyward very well could have barrelled into big Z drew contact and forced them to make some kind of call.

billyj
04-06-2010, 02:39 PM
Here is my idea:

1. Zoubek makes free throw. Leading by 3
2. Foul immediately 2.1 secs left on the clock
3. Hayward makes both Free Throws.
4. Butlers foul Scheyer or Scheyer dribble the clock out

Sure win, rather than the 3 pointer hail mary that almost gave me a heart attack.
Wouldn't that be nicer? But I am not complaining! :D

alteran
04-06-2010, 02:40 PM
Do you really think it was an illegal screen? I looked like he was stationary. Imagine if he had hit the three and they had waved it off for offensive foul illegal screen

I absolutely think it was an illegal screen. He moved, leaned into contact, and then specifically moved his shoulder to blindside Singler in the head. He could have hindered Singler every bit as much without being vicious.

Wouldn't shock me if there was some frustration in what he did, and it also wouldn't shock me if he didn't intend it to be quite as vicious as it turned out to be.

dukestheheat
04-06-2010, 02:41 PM
To me, a missed shot or a clanged shot that caroms is less stable to grab; this makes the shock factor greater for the opponent and puts pressure on the opponent to a) control the carom and then b) get a decent pass to mid-court or closer, if possible, for some type of shot.

A made shot at least gives a usual in-bounder time to get the ball and take it out of bounds; screens can be set by players to free more shooters; one more pass can be made to get an even better shot, and possibly the chances of a made shot go up.

I wonder if K pulled the missed shot, at that time of that particular game, for the shock value?

Whatever the rationale, it worked and we are the National Champions yet again.

dth.

alteran
04-06-2010, 02:43 PM
I am happy with the intentional miss if that is indeed what happened.

Zoubs said it was an intentional miss, and that it was under orders. It was actually pretty funny the way he said it.

rsvman
04-06-2010, 02:47 PM
No, you might have missed it. .
I didn't miss anything. You asked the question of whether we could support the decision had it failed, and then suggested to do so would be absurd. Those are your words, not mine.

All I am saying is that IF a person were to believe the decision was supportable at the time it was made, the decision is still supportable DESPITE a bad outcome. This is true in all cases unless there was another choice that had a 100% probability of leading to the desired outcome, which there was not.

That's all I was saying. If you thought the decision was bad at the time it was made, you are justified in continuing to think it was bad even though it resulted in a good outcome. As I mentioned, that's the flip side of that exact same coin.

dukestheheat
04-06-2010, 02:50 PM
I absolutely think it was an illegal screen. He moved, leaned into contact, and then specifically moved his shoulder to blindside Singler in the head. He could have hindered Singler every bit as much without being vicious.

Wouldn't shock me if there was some frustration in what he did, and it also wouldn't shock me if he didn't intend it to be quite as vicious as it turned out to be.

That hit on Singler was assault and battery; there is no way it's going to get called there, but I saw some 'football player' in the Butler player as he was winding up to pop Kyle. Pop him, he did, and it was U-G-L-Y. That had to hurt. When we got cracked in football like that, we were wearing pads, at least, to absorb some of the blow.

dth.

OldSchool
04-06-2010, 02:52 PM
I thought K's call was the right move:

-- momentum was shifting Butler's way in the last few minutes

-- the referee whistles seemed to be breaking Butler's way

-- we are playing a road game against a huge, hostile crowd.

Butler did about as well as they could with the missed free throw, having the ball go to Hayward immediately and setting a pick to free him up. Even with that, the best shot they could get was a half-court prayer.

On the other hand, with 3.5 seconds and the ability to inbound the ball, they very likely get the ball across mid-court and close to the 3-pt line. The last thing Duke would want to do is foul a player like Hayward (near automatic) n the act of shooting a 3pt shot - so a Butler player like Hayward or Mack is likely to get a good, clean look from a normal 3-pt shot distance.

Some may say that in those circumstances, Duke should intentionally foul before the shot. But that's relying on the refs to call it, and to not say that the player was in the act of shooting. The way the calls had been breaking for Butler, I don't like that strategy in this game. The refs could ignore the foul attempt, or if the Butler player makes a motion to the basket as he is being fouled, give him a shooting foul for three.

I think our chances of winning the game are better by making them beat us with a half-court heave, than giving them a likely clean look from a normal 3-pt range to go into overtime with momentum and a friendly whistle.

bluepenguin
04-06-2010, 02:52 PM
People, please. All the other threads are replete with posts praising K, how he is the greatest coach ever, how the poster will never question him again, etc. etc.
And here we have a thread devoted to questioning his last second strategy? You can keep all your numbers and statistical analysis. If K says the strategy he employed was the correct one, that's good enough for me. He's got four NC's. I don't have any.

SharkD
04-06-2010, 02:53 PM
There is an obscure, oft-forgotten game from nearly two decades ago, that saw a very similar situation to last night's conclusion.

Two fairly matched teams were in a slugfest, trading the lead back and forth in a game that was tied at the end of regulation.

The lower seed hit a running one-hander, to go up by one, with 2.1 seconds left on the overtime period. Everyone assumed the game was over. But, the young coach on the higher seed's bench knew that he had an advantage in that his players could run the baseline for the inbounds. The lower seed chose not to contest the inbound, but to double-team their opponent's best shooter, who'd shot a perfect 9-of-9 from the floor.

A sophomore forward threw the ball ĺ of the court, which was caught at the top of the key by the senior center, who turned around and shot a perfect arc to the bottom of the net, sending that team to it's 4th Final Four in four years.

What did the winning coach attribute the key factor in the win? Having the ability to run the baseline with the clock stopped, to set up the long inbounds pass.

18 years later, I'm pretty sure Mike Krzyzewski was thinking about what led the 1992 Duke Blue Devils to victory over the Kentucky Wildcats, when he told his senior center to miss his freethrow, preventing a stopped-clock inbounds play.

InSpades
04-06-2010, 03:00 PM
People, please. All the other threads are replete with posts praising K, how he is the greatest coach ever, how the poster will never question him again, etc. etc.
And here we have a thread devoted to questioning his last second strategy? You can keep all your numbers and statistical analysis. If K says the strategy he employed was the correct one, that's good enough for me. He's got four NC's. I don't have any.

So you're saying Coach K never does anything wrong ever? If that's the case then this thread should be locked and deleted :).

No one is going to say he is a bad coach. I think everyone agrees the call could go either way... it's probably a 51%/49% type thing. No harm in discussing it though.

Everyone realizes what K did this year was masterful. The game plans against Baylor and West Virginia were amazing. I think the way the game was called against Butler (allowing so much grabbing) put a crimp in Duke's offense, but that's not K's fault.

Relics
04-06-2010, 03:33 PM
It seems to me we can't make the correct calculation without knowing what Coach K's probability of a Duke victory in OT was. Assuming it was not in our favor (he has implied as much) it could be anywhere from .49 to .14 (or theoretically lower). If he figures our odds to be 3:2 against, for instance, CDu's calculation for Butler winning after an attempted Zoubek made FT becomes:

60%*33%*40% + 60%*14% = 16.3%

and the intentional miss (14%) becomes the +EV play.

EDIT: it becomes the +EV decision by Coach K, an important distinction

bluepenguin
04-06-2010, 03:50 PM
So you're saying Coach K never does anything wrong ever? If that's the case then this thread should be locked and deleted :).

That's not what I am saying at all.


No one is going to say he is a bad coach. I think everyone agrees the call could go either way... it's probably a 51%/49% type thing. No harm in discussing it though.

Where do you get your 51%/49% from? How many times has this scenario been run in real life to derive the probabilities? I could argue it is 99%/1% and you couldn't provide hard facts to say otherwise. It's all pure conjecture.


Everyone realizes what K did this year was masterful. The game plans against Baylor and West Virginia were amazing. I think the way the game was called against Butler (allowing so much grabbing) put a crimp in Duke's offense, but that's not K's fault.

Exactly! He was masterful this year. So why are you questioning one decision?

All I'm saying is enjoy the championship for what it is - a hard fought victory richly deserved by this GREAT team. There's no need to over analyze.

InSpades
04-06-2010, 03:59 PM
Where do you get your 51%/49% from? How many times has this scenario been run in real life to derive the probabilities? I could argue it is 99%/1% and you couldn't provide hard facts to say otherwise. It's all pure conjecture.


51%/49% were just made-up numbers to show that it could have gone either way. I'm sure if you polled 100 college coaches that you'd get something a lot closer to 51-49 than 99-1. I'm also sure if you ran the result 1000 times each way that the result would probably be pretty close.

BobbyFan
04-06-2010, 04:15 PM
Keep in mind Butler pretty much MAXIMIZED their attempt with their last shot. The ball was speedily redirected upcourt by Heyward and Howard set a perfect illegal pick to give Heyward that open look.

Exactly. If they didn't get this ideal sequence, then this topic isn't much of an issue today. And even though he was open, Hayward came closer to making that shot than he would on average.

wiscodevil
04-06-2010, 04:31 PM
Watch the two Butler players closest to the basket following the 2nd foul shot. One holds Lance in a bear hug, and one crackbacks Singler.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDmW988_5Jg

Still, if it were me, I'd try and make that 2nd FT.

mike88
04-06-2010, 04:40 PM
As a decision scientist, I find threads like this very interesting, including all the common decision biases that we are subject to. The decision tree here is not really very complex, but the probabilities that are needed to populate it are pretty obscure- we just don't have a lot of empiric data (as far as I know) on the probability of hitting shots after a missed or made free throw with 3.6 seconds left and no timeouts. I am guessing the spread is not as large as some have assumed here, but that is just a guess.

I do think we could get reasonably close data on the probability of winning in overtime. I think Duke would win slightly more than 50% of the time, despite all the factors mentioned in this thread.

The Duke-Kentucky analogy is not great, as I am pretty sure we would have 1) guarded the inbounds pass; 2) had the opportunity to foul before a 3 point shot; 3) defended only the 3 point shot. Of course, things could go wrong, but I doubt Duke would make a really bad play (foul a 3 point shooter, for example)

Jason W
04-06-2010, 04:44 PM
Thanks to all for their statistical analysis.

I don't think that Coach K was doing calculations to make his decision. The intentional miss (if indeed intentional)

(1) forced Butler to use clock getting the ball up court rather than have the clock start when touched on a long pass and

(2) put the game more into the players hands and less under the refs control.

But has Coach K said that he told Brian to miss? In the post game presser, when asked if he missed intentionally Brian said "yup" and further when asked if he was free lancing he said "no, definitely not freelancing". The implication is that he was instructed to miss. Has K said anything to confirm that?

Additionally, he effectively cut 5 seconds off of their time to compose themselves. It was a good move.

bluedevildaddy
04-06-2010, 04:53 PM
I admittedly have not read through this thread yet, so I don't know if anyone has addressed this aspect of the situation yet. Does anyone know how many times Brian has made both ends of a 2 shot foul this year and if so what the probability would have been for him to do so in this situation? My assumption would be that the probability is pretty low. My theory, again without yet looking at the actual numbers, is that Coach knows the percentages and felt that it would be more advantageous for Brian to intentionally miss leading to a harder, more erratic, time consuming bounce than it would be for him to shoot his normal shot and have it result in a conventional rebound. I understand that this may be far fetched, but it is just another scenario to add to the conversation.

Congrats and thanks to all in the Blue Devil family for an amazing year!!

Duke Parent 06
04-06-2010, 05:52 PM
Scheyer was interviewed on First and Ten, and said he heard conflicting instructions from the bench. It sounded like Zoubs was instructed to intentionally miss the second if he missed the first (clearly the right choice because a two point lead wouldn't have mattered since Butler was not likely to get close enough in 3.6 seconds to take a two-point shot).

However, the instructions may have been different once he made the first - but were not clearly communicated.

Don't you want that 2 point lead in case Butler successfully induces a foul once they regain possession?

CDu
04-06-2010, 06:00 PM
Don't you want that 2 point lead in case Butler successfully induces a foul once they regain possession?

I think you assume that your team is smart enough not to commit any sort of foul in 3.6 seconds. Basically, you assume the probability of foul shots in either scenario is 0%, unless you intentionally foul.

If you miss the first, then I think missing the second makes the most sense. If you make it, Butler then has the choice to try the Laettner play to tie or try a 3 to win. If you miss, they pretty much only have time to shoot a 3 (which would win over a 1-point lead or a 2-point lead).

cato
04-06-2010, 06:14 PM
People keep saying, "the worst thing that can happen is a tie".

No, the worst thing that can happen is tie, and then we lose in OT.

I agree with your point, but I'll one-up you: the worst thing that can happen is that someone gets a good look from 3, gets fouled in the act of shooting, and still makes the shot. Chance for 4-point play.

DukeCO2009
04-06-2010, 06:36 PM
I agree with your point, but I'll one-up you: the worst thing that can happen is that someone gets a good look from 3, gets fouled in the act of shooting, and still makes the shot. Chance for 4-point play.

Reminds me of the Indiana game. Great, now my day is ruined.

Wait, no it isn't. We're NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!

Eckster
04-06-2010, 07:00 PM
But has Coach K said that he told Brian to miss? In the post game presser, when asked if he missed intentionally Brian said "yup" and further when asked if he was free lancing he said "no, definitely not freelancing". The implication is that he was instructed to miss. Has K said anything to confirm that?

I don't have it on tape but my recollection was that K confirmed it at the time. At least that's how I interpreted it (there was some joking about Zoubs always following orders). I think there's too much reading into it (confusion? free-lancing?, etc). K called it, Zoubs did it, Kyle gets hammered, shot misses, Duke wins.

Gewebe14
04-06-2010, 07:28 PM
One thing I think people overlook in looking at expected values of the move is the fact that the stakes are so high in this case. For example, think of a game in which you have a 1% chance of winning $1 million for every $1 you bet and a 99% chance of losing your money. The expected value of this game is positive, in fact, dramatically so, but would you really bet ALL of your money if you could only play it one time? This is where the "volatility" of the expected value comes into play. If you could play it many times, then of course you would do it over and over again. Applying it to our game though, we had one "play" win or lose and Coach K essentially bet all his money on it when he had the chance to extend the game and play it out in overtime with less randomness effecting the outcome.

I'm not necessarily arguing that K made the wrong choice, especially when factoring in OT, small chance of hitting the shot etc., BUT just think some people are not really considering that there are scenarios IMO where the highest expected value may not be the best if you have to go all or nothing.

-jk
04-06-2010, 07:29 PM
This has been touched on but not explicitly stated. Lance and Zoub both had 4 fouls. Zoub had already played a career high in minutes. I suspect the only analysis K did was that the game should be decided in regulation, and then how to win it. I think he really didn't want any part of OT.

-jk

GODUKEGO
04-06-2010, 08:01 PM
Watch the two Butler players closest to the basket following the 2nd foul shot. One holds Lance in a bear hug, and one crackbacks Singler.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDmW988_5Jg

Still, if it were me, I'd try and make that 2nd FT.

Zoub does not have a very good poker face. Seems like he was holding back a grin and than looks over at the bench right before the second free throw. Showing the last shot at least five times, it is hard to believe neither announcer mentioned the cross body block by Howard on Kyle. It was a blatant foul. As a ref you have to have the fortitude to make that call regardless of the game situation. A foul is a foul is a foul!!!

greybeard
04-06-2010, 09:52 PM
1. The odds. The odds are much better if he orders Z to miss on purpose before he walks to the line for the first. First, if he makes the first, no one in the building, and none of the heads, is expecting a deliberate miss, except for the other four players on the floor who know that their job is to force Butler into an off balance heave from half court. Were it not for the cross body block on Singler that Howard threw that inexplicably was not called, Hayward would have gotten off only an unseemly heave that would have hit nothing.

2. If Butler nevertheless makes, Dukes amasing accomplishments this year remain intact. No self recriminations for the rest of their lives, Z if he missed the second but not on purpose, or the entire team if Z makes, Butler gets 5 seconds to take it in, hit somebody who gets off a good look and ties it up.

If that happens, K and me we didn't like Duke's chances going into OT. Butler going in has all the momentum; singler, Scheyer and Smith had played mucho minutes, Smith missed a layup, a difficult one but one that he makes except if he's tired, in the final minute that would have sealed it, Singler short armed a 12 footer that would have sealed it, Z through a pass off an offensive rebound that would have sealed it practically out of the gym. Z had dodged a bullet for 9 plus minutes. Nope the odds were not good if the game went to OT and the risks were too great.

All that this team accomplished was on the line. Even now, as K understatedly put it during the post game news conference when asked about Butler's Cinderala story, 'We've got a pretty good story of our own." If the idiots in the media would only have looked, simply talking about Zoubek was the story of the year. add Singler's emergence as the best player in the college game, Nolan's emergence as I think perhaps the best offensive guard in the country (I would develop it further, but he shoots the 3-ball with anyone, is as good taking it to the rim either in the open court but more importantly in the half court as well as anyone, except maybe Wall, and here's where he separates himself, he has a mid range game off his own creation that is without peer. H is also a lock down defender, who is a stone cold warrier, who will get in the face of people twice his size if they are looking for trouble with any of his boys. I will save you the details regarding the others.

Add all this remarkable individual growth with the temendous growth of this group as a team, which K has said time and again will make these guys brothers for life. I think he means it.

Why put all that in the pot by playing for a possible OT rather than forcing the issue on your terms, when the odds are decidedly against a make, when your guys are deployed and Singler has shut down Harward all night and if lightening strike, none of what your players has accomplished is lost, or tarnished in the least. "The Gods were against them is what folks would intone, and no chance, none at all, that any of the kids he loves will be haunted by a single bad memory.

The guy in a snap made a brilliant decision to go all in when the other guy had to draw to a highly improbable inside straight. In doing so, he preseved what his team had earned. That none of the heads have figured this out is hardly surprising. They still haven't gotten it that Duke had been getting better and better each week, was playing better than anyone in the country coming into the tournament, and had the tournament lasted another two weeks who knows how good Duke would have been then.

This team has four maybe five NBAers and that is not counting a possible Dawkins and Curry or Ryan, all of whom if they make it will not surprise me, and Lance will surely have a stellar career oversees, if not in the Show if he continues as he began to during the tournament to look for its shot. They were, in the end, much more then their some of their parts, and had a leader who would make the daring of old Stonewall look like meek doings.

An absolutely brilliant call, missed by the idiots who call themselves experts.

ice-9
04-06-2010, 09:54 PM
Actually, if you lower the percentage of making it off an inbounds play, you make it more likely that trying to MAKE the free throw is the right idea:

Intentional miss: 8% chance of Butler winning (based on your assumptions)

Attempted make:
60% make FT * 20% * 40% + 40% miss FT * 8% = 0.08

The smaller the difference between the probability of a made 3 between the inbounds scenario and the "scramble" scenario the more likely it is that attempting to make the FT is the right decision.

And as has been said, this doesn't consider two additional sub-scenarios after a make:
1. you foul a 3pt shooter and he makes it
2. you foul a dribbler and give them only two free throws.


Hi CDu, I didn't bother to factor in the probability of Zoubek unintentionally missing the free throw as all it does is lessen the spread between the two decisions, and even then not really by much.

As your analysis above shows, assuming the probability of making a shot off an inbound play is 20%, the overall outcome even factoring Zoubek's unintentional miss is still 8%. The probability of unintentionally missing the free throw isn't a critical variable, so I didn't include it to keep things simple.

Assuming you can accept the 8% probability of a half court shot, the key variables are thus
x = the probability of making a 3-point shot based on an inbound play
y = the probability of Butler winning in overtime

I used x = 33% and y = 40%, but acknowledge that x could be lower; as low as 20% to make the Zoubek miss a better decision as long as you believe Butler has a 40% chance of winning in overtime.

If you believe y is actually closer to 50%, then the intentional miss is the better decision as long as x = 16%. And 16% definitely feels low to me.

Again I'm trying to simplify the math here...a lot of stuff isn't being captured, but boiled to the essence of the situation we can see that there is no obviously better decision. That in of itself is surprising to me, as I had initially thought going for the free throw was easily the better thing to do.

mike88
04-06-2010, 11:33 PM
Hi CDu, I didn't bother to factor in the probability of Zoubek unintentionally missing the free throw as all it does is lessen the spread between the two decisions, and even then not really by much.

As your analysis above shows, assuming the probability of making a shot off an inbound play is 20%, the overall outcome even factoring Zoubek's unintentional miss is still 8%. The probability of unintentionally missing the free throw isn't a critical variable, so I didn't include it to keep things simple.

Assuming you can accept the 8% probability of a half court shot, the key variables are thus
x = the probability of making a 3-point shot based on an inbound play
y = the probability of Butler winning in overtime

I used x = 33% and y = 40%, but acknowledge that x could be lower; as low as 20% to make the Zoubek miss a better decision as long as you believe Butler has a 40% chance of winning in overtime.

If you believe y is actually closer to 50%, then the intentional miss is the better decision as long as x = 16%. And 16% definitely feels low to me.

Again I'm trying to simplify the math here...a lot of stuff isn't being captured, but boiled to the essence of the situation we can see that there is no obviously better decision. That in of itself is surprising to me, as I had initially thought going for the free throw was easily the better thing to do.

I think 16% is about right, assuming we defend the inbounds pass and that we aim to stop the 3 point basket (ie we basically don't defend the 2). Based on similar situations (Duke-Kentucky a notable exception), the most common outcome is a steal on the pass or a near-steal and desperation heave.

In the end, I think it comes down to Kahneman and Tversky's observation from prospect theory- we are risk seeking for losses and risk averse for gains. In this case, the decision was framed in "loss" format and K chose the "risky" option.

SCMatt33
04-06-2010, 11:49 PM
I just got home from Indy (Yay!) and read some, but apologize if this point has been mentioned. I read several comments about the chance of Zoubs unintentionally missing the second, thus producing the same scenario and lessening the impact of the decision. I have to disagree completely with this being the case. If Zoubs is trying to make the shot, we're going to set up our d, especially our guards to defend against a set play on a make. With no timeouts left I would expect a quick inbounds and no time to switch defenses. Since everyone was on board with the miss, we were able to set up our defense and force the half-court shot from the sideline. If the miss was unintentional, they might have gotten a better shot off.

Starter
04-07-2010, 01:18 AM
Well, I'm glad to come back from a long day of celebrating Duke's victory and see that we're all in agreement that I'm 100% right about this whole thing. You guys had some decent points too. Props to all involved, let's go Duke!

Reddevil
04-07-2010, 08:20 AM
I'm not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but duke did not score a FG in the last 4:47 of the game. The way things were going OT would have been a tough go. Still, I don't think I would have had the rocks to call it. K has the clout to take a chance like that (thank goodness!). I don't think math and probability had much to do with it. It was a sneak attack, and it worked. Like K said, "what the hell". CHAMPS!

Neals384
04-07-2010, 08:43 AM
Another issues is the number of timeouts remaining. I don't think we had one, and I wouldn't have take one anyway to give Butler a chance to plan for its options.

Duke had one Timeout left. But I agree it would have been dumb to use it.

Neals384
04-07-2010, 08:45 AM
One other thing that I questioned in the last few seconds - originally at 13.6 sec K had Zoubek guarding Hayward as the inbounder. Did anybody else flash back to Laettner v. UConn 1990? I didn't like the choice given that Zoubek would have had a difficult time staying with Hayward had he managed to get the ball inbounds. I would have rather had Singler or Thomas guarding Hayward's inbound pass there. Of course Butler wound up using their last timeout, so it worked out great.

After the Butler TO, Z still guarded the inbounds pass. But Singler picked up the defense on Hayward. Only after Hayward got past Singler did Z pick him up on the help defense.

Neals384
04-07-2010, 08:48 AM
We had nobody else in the lane (or at least nobody but Zoubek tried for the rebound).

Thomas was in the lane, right side. He made no effort to get the rebound, and was in a bear hug anyway. Singler was in the lane, left side, for the first free throw, but stepped back to the top of the circle for the second.

greybeard
04-07-2010, 08:52 AM
How many seconds did Laetner have? George for UConn? I don't know math, but 3.8 is much, much bigger than say 2, and there is the little matter that everybody on their side might reactively pauseor lean to the bsket again wasting precisous miliseconds or more. At a minimum, they have to be saying to themselves, "WTF," and likely make a stupid play, which exactly what 52 did in front of the entire free world except the refs didn't call or the game would have ended before any shot was even had. Stonewall Jackson.

Then, as I mentioned, the costs. The general decided where the stand would be made. It would be made on Duke's terms, with his players having to do what they do best, play smart and take away what is "good" for the other guy. He put it in the hands of his guys, took the responsibility if lightening struck, and walked away with a championship because the odds were with him, and because you don't put the rent money into the pot, ever, not if there is a better option. Make no mistake, putting it on Z to make 2 going in, giving Butler to "run" something they've practiced the entire season, would have been put the rent money and the title to your car into the pot. You put pressure on Z to make two, you up the odds of Butler's making back, and then your guys who were tiring badly have to go into OT with the other side pumped; if things don't work out, you have the pundits saying, "We were right all along, they had an easy path, are not the Duke of old, yadayadayada, and thus your guys have to live with such snipes forever.

Had lightening struck under the alternative scenario, nobody here would have wanted overtime, nobody. JK has that exactly right in his post above. The odds could not possibly have been better in an overtime for Duke than they were at that moment. K seized the moment. He always does, and that's why there is no one better.

Reilly
04-07-2010, 08:59 AM
.... and K chose the "risky" option.

I believe K chose the safe, rational option, based on his assessment of the probabilities.

K did not like Duke's chance in OT. K thought Butler would have a much better chance of making a 3 off an inbounds play than they would off of a scramble situation.

Given his assessment of Duke's chances in OT and Butler's ability to make a 3 inbounding (higher) v. scramble (lower), K made the absolutely rational, safe, correct-by-the-numbers choice which gave Duke the greatest chance of victory, in his mind. It worked.

DevilHorns
04-07-2010, 09:03 AM
K on Mike and Mike radio this morning said some very interesting things:

(paraphrasing)

1) Win the game now. Doesn't look like we would win in OT given foul trouble, away game, momentum, etc.
2) Have the chance to control the outcome: If we hit the FT, then up 3, they can run their designed play to get a shot off. If we intentionally miss, we have our defensive assignments already prepared for whatever scraping offensive threat they put together.
3) Kyle got absolutely blasted by Howard. But of course no one would expect them to call a foul in that situation.
4) Coaching is done on gut instinct. In another situation, the right move would be to make the FT and go up 3 (would be the norm in this situation). There is no true wrong call here, given what and how much you weigh important aspects of this game.

Troublemaker
04-07-2010, 09:25 AM
This has been touched on but not explicitly stated. Lance and Zoub both had 4 fouls. Zoub had already played a career high in minutes. I suspect the only analysis K did was that the game should be decided in regulation, and then how to win it. I think he really didn't want any part of OT.

-jk

An excellent point, and Coach K basically recited it word for word on Sportscenter this morning. He also said "overtime was not an alternative for us."

As I wrote before in this thread, based on how Duke had shot and played the previous few possessions leading up to the final one, and based on the momentum and crowd that Butler would've carried into overtime had they tied on a buzzer-beater, I really didn't like Duke's chances and emotional mindset heading into overtime.

ice-9
04-07-2010, 08:45 PM
More on Coach K's own words (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/danpatrick/blog/105661/index.html?eref=fromSI)

DP: Looking back at your strategy to intentionally miss a free throw with 3.6 seconds left in the national title game. Would you have done it differently?

MK: First of all, you can do it a number of different ways. I think each game you have to know what the game has done thus far. The last nine minutes of that game [Brian] Zoubek played with four fouls. The last five minutes Zoubek and Lance Thomas played with four fouls. Going into overtime for me was not an alternative. I did not want to go into overtime.

DP: So you were playing for the win?

MK: They had no timeouts. I know how good they are and how well-schooled they are. They're going to have something really good after the make. They'll probably get something decent even if we foul them. It's going to produce a number of plays. The clock will start as soon as we miss and I had everybody set up to guard their guys.

After the miss, Zoubek jammed whoever got the rebound. And he missed and we jammed. Then Kyle [Singler] got blown out on the side and they got what I thought would have been the very best thing that they could have gotten -- that is a desperation half-court shot. I thought we could have played 3.6 seconds in the half court. It came close, but, Dan, that's what our game is. In another situation, I probably would have done another thing. I don't think you can say one is right, one is wrong. It's always the thing that turns out well that turns out to be right. But when you analyze, a lot of times you don't analyze what could have happened. If it goes into overtime it's not a good situation for us -- with David and Goliath, we're playing an away game, we're in foul trouble. Not to have a defeatist attitude, but I think we have a better chance of losing if that extreme happens and a better shot at winning if the extreme that occurred happens. So right or wrong, and that's why we're in it.

DevilHorns
04-07-2010, 09:42 PM
More on Coach K's own words (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/danpatrick/blog/105661/index.html?eref=fromSI)

DP: Looking back at your strategy to intentionally miss a free throw with 3.6 seconds left in the national title game. Would you have done it differently?

After the miss, Zoubek jammed whoever got the rebound. And he missed and we jammed. Then Kyle [Singler] got blown out on the side and they got what I thought would have been the very best thing that they could have gotten -- that is a desperation half-court shot. I thought we could have played 3.6 seconds in the half court.


Keep in mind Butler pretty much MAXIMIZED their attempt with their last shot. The ball was speedily redirected upcourt by Heyward and Howard set a perfect illegal pick to give Heyward that open loo

Great minds think alike! :D

MarkD83
04-07-2010, 09:57 PM
I have not read every post in this thread in detail so I am not sure this has been brought up...Coach K has experienced a lot and often times does things by gut feel and what he remembers.

Last week before the Final Four I rewatched the Duke-UNC game at Duke. Of course Duke was up by 29 and there was only a few seconds left on the clock in the first half so the score did not matter much. However, Nolan Smith hit two free-throws and Duke was in position to play defense. Even so Ginyard had a wide-open look at a 3 from the wing at the buzzer and buried it. Not a significant shot in the UNC game, but my guess is Coach K remembered this play and figured Butler would tie the game on a three if they got a good look, just as he saw Ginyard bury a shot three weeks earlier.

Reilly
04-07-2010, 10:29 PM
The simple formula:

Butler's chance of making a scramble 3
vs.
Butler's chance of making a set-up 3 multiplied by Butler's chance of win in OT

I believe Butler had a 5% chance of making a scramble 3, meaning Butler had a 5% chance of winning the game with the strategy K employed.

I believe Butler had a 15% chance of making a set-up 3, and a 50% chance of winning in OT .... so Butler would've had 7.5% chance of victory with the "conventional wisdom" strategy of making the last FT.

K made the right call. He really made the right call if he's correct on Butler's chances in OT and if they were even more than the 50% I assessed them at.

ACCBBallFan
04-08-2010, 08:55 AM
This front page article with Mike Francesa goes into great detail onthe analysis

http://www.wfan.com/topic/play_window.php?audioType=Episode&audioId=4543743

Excellent rapport between the other Mike & MIke's

PADukeMom
04-08-2010, 09:08 AM
At this point, who cares! WE ARE THE 2010 NCAA CHAMPIONS!

MulletMan
04-08-2010, 10:03 AM
This isn't on the main page:

K on Mike and Mike this morning. (http://espn.go.com/espnradio/player?rd=1#/podcenter/?id=5063161&autoplay=1&callsign=ESPNRADIO)

devildownunder
04-08-2010, 10:13 AM
This isn't on the main page:

K on Mike and Mike this morning. (http://espn.go.com/espnradio/player?rd=1#/podcenter/?id=5063161&autoplay=1&callsign=ESPNRADIO)

There is a link to the link to the link (ha) on the front page now but for anyone who can't/won't listen to it, you should. It's a tremendous interview. It is all about the game and the team's story (please take a hint other "journalists"!). On the free throw, K basically says he thought we would lose if the game went to overtime: the crowd (and refs getting caught up in the crowd) and foul trouble were what led him to that conclusion. So he took a calculated risk that "in an uncontrolled situation" the best they'd be able to get was a half-court heave.

He was right. And I'll say again, agreed with the call then and now.

It was very interesting to hear coach talk about how the psychology of the officials and the environment affected his strategic decisions. Not just the tangible way the game was being called but also the prospect that refs might get caught up cinderella, david vs. goliath, the raucous home crowd for Butler, and make it very difficult for Duke to win, particularly with his two experienced interior players in so much foul trouble.

Great interview!

devildownunder
04-08-2010, 10:14 AM
This has been touched on but not explicitly stated. Lance and Zoub both had 4 fouls. Zoub had already played a career high in minutes. I suspect the only analysis K did was that the game should be decided in regulation, and then how to win it. I think he really didn't want any part of OT.

-jk

You're absolutely right. Listen to the Mike Francesa interview.

devildownunder
04-08-2010, 10:19 AM
I have not read every post in this thread in detail so I am not sure this has been brought up...Coach K has experienced a lot and often times does things by gut feel and what he remembers.

Last week before the Final Four I rewatched the Duke-UNC game at Duke. Of course Duke was up by 29 and there was only a few seconds left on the clock in the first half so the score did not matter much. However, Nolan Smith hit two free-throws and Duke was in position to play defense. Even so Ginyard had a wide-open look at a 3 from the wing at the buzzer and buried it. Not a significant shot in the UNC game, but my guess is Coach K remembered this play and figured Butler would tie the game on a three if they got a good look, just as he saw Ginyard bury a shot three weeks earlier.

In the Mike & Mike interview (did I mention you really should listen to that?) he also says he thought about the Laettner shot and how it was possible because he had the opportunity to create a controlled situation -- to call a set play -- whereas, if it were just a live ball off a miss, they would not have got such a quality shot.

alteran
04-08-2010, 10:28 AM
It is NOT absurd to defend a failed strategy.

Think about it this way. There is no approach to the situation that represents a 100% foolproof way to win the game. Therefore, all strategies are potentially subject to failure. So, by your logic, NO APPROACH can be logically defended.

Does that make sense to you?

What you're suggesting is that if an approach fails, it must have been the wrong approach. This doesn't make sense, because the approach has to be chosen before the outcome is known, and no approach is foolproof.

The flip side of your statement that I quoted above is that all approaches that SUCCEED must be correct. In that case, why are you not wholeheartedly praising the choice that was made? It succeeded, right? And therefore it was a good strategy.

You can't choose one side of the coin without choosing the other. So your statement is logically inconsistent.

Wow, someone was paying attention in logic class. :D

I was doodling and trying to think of puns using the word "boolian."

sagegrouse
04-08-2010, 10:37 AM
Lets back up a few seconds. :) ;) :rolleyes:

Suppose as soon as Zoubek gets the rebound from Heyward's miss, he throws a high, lazy pass downcourt to no one. There is a scramble to get the ball before it goes out of bounds.

Does that eat the 4-5 seconds left?

Is there any reasonable chance he -- or any player -- could have made that instant decision?

Would that have been a good idea?

sagegrouse

Durhamrocks68
04-08-2010, 10:41 AM
It's a radical move, but if Z had chucked it back towards Butler's goal with some air under it, the clock would have run out. Not sure he would have had time, as the Butler foul came pretty fast. If nobody was around him, I kinda like this move.

Bluedog
04-08-2010, 10:43 AM
I think Zoubek throwing it high up in the air after the rebound is too risky. Either he'd have to bring the ball down or overhead and it could easily be stripped. The most important thing is to maintain possession. Plus, he'd probably be fouled in the act of chucking it anyways so wouldn't be much difference; they got on top of him pretty quickly. Also, perhaps his throw would go wildly out of bounds towards Butler's basket, hit the jumbotron (although I'd imagine that was too high up), or do something else. Just too risky in general.

alteran
04-08-2010, 10:46 AM
Sure, but what's your probability of losing in regulation if Brian hits the second free throw? Pretty much zero. What's your probability if he misses it? With the ball in the air last night, I'd say considerably higher.

What am I missing here?


You're missing that the game doesn't end with a tie in regulation. You then go to overtime, which you can still lose.

And here's how overtime would have looked: 1) our critical senior bigs with four fouls after already having gone a combined 15 minutes or so without getting called, 2) a massive home crowd feeling it, 3) 1 point scored by us over the last three minutes, 4) 0 goals in the last 5 minutes, 5) 2 easy shots blown in the final two minutes, 6) fatigue setting in, 6) officials appearing timid regarding fouls against us down the stretch, 7) the team as a whole appearing to tighten up, 8) Butler with massive, massive momentum after stiffing us for five minutes.

In that situation, I say forcing Butler to run up the court in 3.6 seconds without a ball stoppage is a pretty freaking good call.

Granted, Butler still had to go the length of the court and get a three, but you know they had a play ready to go and we simply could not contest the 3 point shot meaningfully -- therefore they'd have an open three. Look how close they came without a stopped clock or fully set play.

I see your point, and I think it is a good one. There's certainly not a "no-brainer" call here. But I totally agree with Coach K that we simply did not want to chance going to overtime-- particularly if the alternative was a desperation, off-balance heave.

alteran
04-08-2010, 11:02 AM
51%/49% were just made-up numbers to show that it could have gone either way. I'm sure if you polled 100 college coaches that you'd get something a lot closer to 51-49 than 99-1. I'm also sure if you ran the result 1000 times each way that the result would probably be pretty close.

I agree with this. While I disagree with the people that don't think Coach K made the best call, I also don't think it's accurate to assume they question Coach K's brilliance merely because they think he could have slightly improved Duke's chances of winning with a different call.

I certainly see no harm in debating the situation-- it's an interesting dilemma, and I don't know about the rest of people here, but I've got a surplus of bball-related energy right now, and stuff like this is a key outlet right now. :)

UrinalCake
04-08-2010, 11:16 AM
It's a radical move, but if Z had chucked it back towards Butler's goal with some air under it, the clock would have run out.

I agree with Bluedog that this is too risky. Worst case is that the ball goes out of bounds, and we've just given it back to them with time to run a set play. Other bad scenarios are the ball getting stripped/stolen during the chuck, or a foul being called on us while scrambling for the loose ball.

In addition to all that has been said regarding our chances in overtime, Howard was very well rested after having been on the bench a lot with foul trouble. He had scored several consecutive points for them and we really wouldn't be able to stop him in OT. I believe the dunk he had within the last minute was partly due to fatigue on our part.

Also, I know this isn't what this thread is about but how clutch were those two free throws by Nolan on the previous possession?!?

alteran
04-08-2010, 11:22 AM
Lets back up a few seconds. :) ;) :rolleyes:

Suppose as soon as Zoubek gets the rebound from Heyward's miss, he throws a high, lazy pass downcourt to no one. There is a scramble to get the ball before it goes out of bounds.

Does that eat the 4-5 seconds left?

Is there any reasonable chance he -- or any player -- could have made that instant decision?

Would that have been a good idea?

sagegrouse

I thought the same thing. Magic Johnson did this famously once. Brilliant move.

If you watch the replay, Zoubek barely lands before Butler fouls him pretty thoroughly. He had no chance to do this.

Those guys were very, very well-coached. Their coach scares the bejeezus out of me.

Freddy Brown
04-08-2010, 11:30 AM
I think your percentages are way off. You really think in less than 4 seconds Butler could get off a 33% 3-point shot after inbounding underneath their basket and Duke able to entirely ignore anything inside the 3-point arc?

You are also ignoring the potential to make the foul shot and then foul Butler on the inbounds. Personally I don't really love this idea but it is something else to consider. You'd put Butler in a position where they'd have to make the 1st free throw, intentionally miss the 2nd, get the rebound and score just to tie.

I just don't think the difference between the shot they'd get off w/ a miss and the shot they'd get off with a make is enough to counteract the extra point. If I'm Coach K I tell Zoubs to make the 2nd shot, and press the inbounds play.

This. The option to foul them after the inbound after making the second shot reduces the probability of a loss even further.

Thankfully it's just a point of interesting discussion. We won!!!

InSpades
04-08-2010, 11:39 AM
Not saying this played into his mind but... maybe K just wanted to shield Zoubs from the possible negative after such an amazing turnaround to his career. Like it or not... if Zoub tries to make that 2nd free throw and misses then he is on the hook if Hayward hits that last shot. By having Zoubs intentionally miss the free throw then K is on the hook if Hayward hits that last shot. I'm sure K would much rather take responsibility for the loss than to have it (rightly or not) fall to Zoubs.

I still think he should have made the shot :). People point to the Laettner shot but that play was 1 in 100. How often do you get a perfect pass that goes 80% the length of the court? And then to hit the shot too? There's a reason that might be the greatest play in NCAA basketball history and it's not because it was easy to accomplish. Duke of course would have guarded the inbound... Butler also would have needed a 3 instead of a 2. Butler also doesn't have Christian Laettner on it's roster :) (nor Grant Hill). To think that Butler would have gotten an open look at a reasonable 3 if Zoubs had hit the free throw is somewhat ridiculous.

alteran
04-08-2010, 11:48 AM
To think that Butler would have gotten an open look at a reasonable 3 if Zoubs had hit the free throw is somewhat ridiculous.

Ridiculous?

With a lose rebound, no clock stoppage, and no set play, Butler went half the length of the court and were completely open. You think it's ridiculous that with a set play they couldn't have used a pass to go a quarter of the court further, and you also think we would have hotly contested the three with the likelihood of a foul call and the possibility of a four-point play?

I think it's a close call on which end game strategy to use-- but this I don't buy.

Starter
04-08-2010, 11:57 AM
I see your point, and I think it is a good one. There's certainly not a "no-brainer" call here. But I totally agree with Coach K that we simply did not want to chance going to overtime-- particularly if the alternative was a desperation, off-balance heave.

Haha, I'll admit, I used to nearly fall asleep in logic class at Duke. I blame the professor, he was the most boring dude ever.

Word, I actually really get that about overtime. I saw how things were going and I wouldn't have felt super-confident in an overtime (though I maintain I still would have felt infinitely less confident if Hayward hit that shot, and what happens if Hayward trips over someone in the backcourt, they blow the whistle and they shoot for overtime?). It's all good, people get passionate about things like this. I'll never think it was a good idea what we did, but I don't really have to. We're the national champions. And after hearing Krzyzewski on Francesa's show yesterday -- he did an excellent job and made excellent points about this very situation -- I get what he was trying to do a little more. If he does something with conviction, well, at least he's a hall of fame coach doing something with conviction, even if it's simply not in my nature to defend it as the right move just because he's the one making it.

But for the final time, I will add this: People are assuming they're going to get this fabulous inbounds in there off a hit free throw. Meanwhile, Duke had forced them into a time out about a minute previous on an inbounds, and this time Butler had no time-out to draw something up. I say hit the shot, send Zoubek right in front of the inbounder, immediately double and deny Hayward, and let them try to figure out how to replicate Laettner with no time out, our defense set and a 7-footer in the inbounder's face. Instead, we got a broken play situation with Hayward getting the best possible shot they could have gotten from any scenario, IMO.

And I still haven't seen anyone answer me why they couldn't have fouled whoever received the inbounds pass, especially if a quick pass came in before halfcourt. Eat up some time, make them try something that virtually never works.

But like I said, it all worked out. We don't need to go back and forth with it anymore, IMO. And I respect Krzyzewski for making a decision, himself, and going with it. It's his world, we're all living in it. And I'll reiterate that he did a magnificent job this season.

greybeard
04-08-2010, 12:02 PM
Lets back up a few seconds. :) ;) :rolleyes:

Suppose as soon as Zoubek gets the rebound from Heyward's miss, he throws a high, lazy pass downcourt to no one. There is a scramble to get the ball before it goes out of bounds.

Does that eat the 4-5 seconds left?

Is there any reasonable chance he -- or any player -- could have made that instant decision?

Would that have been a good idea?

sagegrouse

And live? :) Congrats, sagegrouse, to you and your compadres; I can only imagine.

buddy
04-08-2010, 12:30 PM
and it worked. I think a big part of K's decision was the loose ball tie-up, where Lance made the steal (he had to, the officials restarted the shot clock) but Duke was not given the time out, and Butler got the ball on the alternate possession with a full shot clock. The ruling the officials made is just about the only one that was impossible under the rules. They even went to the monitor to determine the proper clock setting--but couldn't see the time out being called. That call told me that the officials were officially "in the moment" (and "in the tank"). I was in the Spectrum when Laettner made "The Shot". That was 2.1 seconds. The clock doesn't start on the inbounds until touched in bounds. Here, it took Hayward almost 3.6 seconds just to get to midcourt. With an inbounds, if completed (big "if" given our defense, but still probable) the ball would be near mid-court with 3+ seconds on the clock. Enough time to take two or three dribbles (watch Laettner), make a pass, or otherwise get off a play that you have to know they have practiced again and again. The fact is, Butler got just the shot K thought they would get--and off balance heave from midcourt. If it goes in, tip your hat and cry in your beer. But the fact that the ball just rimmed out does not make it a "good shot". On the road you play to win, at home to play to tie. Butler was at home, we were on the road. Right choice. Just glad it worked.

InSpades
04-08-2010, 01:09 PM
Ridiculous?

With a lose rebound, no clock stoppage, and no set play, Butler went half the length of the court and were completely open. You think it's ridiculous that with a set play they couldn't have used a pass to go a quarter of the court further, and you also think we would have hotly contested the three with the likelihood of a foul call and the possibility of a four-point play?

I think it's a close call on which end game strategy to use-- but this I don't buy.

I think it's ridiculous to expect a team to get an open 3 off an in-bounds play w/ only 3.6 seconds left on the clock. If it was really that easy to do it would happen a lot more often than it does. How many open 3 point shots did Duke take all game? How hard did they have to work for them?

Of course it could happen... anything is possible. I'm just saying to expect it to happen is ridiculous. The most likely outcome would be an awkward 3-point shot with a guy in the way.

MarkD83
04-08-2010, 01:11 PM
I think it's ridiculous to expect a team to get an open 3 off an in-bounds play w/ only 3.6 seconds left on the clock. If it was really that easy to do it would happen a lot more often than it does. How many open 3 point shots did Duke take all game? How hard did they have to work for them?

Of course it could happen... anything is possible. I'm just saying to expect it to happen is ridiculous. The most likely outcome would be an awkward 3-point shot with a guy in the way.

UNC did it against Duke 3 weeks ago in Cameron. Ginyard had a wide open 3 from the wing that he drained even after Duke had set up its defense.

greybeard
04-08-2010, 01:22 PM
I think it's ridiculous to expect a team to get an open 3 off an in-bounds play w/ only 3.6 seconds left on the clock. If it was really that easy to do it would happen a lot more often than it does. How many open 3 point shots did Duke take all game? How hard did they have to work for them?

Of course it could happen... anything is possible. I'm just saying to expect it to happen is ridiculous. The most likely outcome would be an awkward 3-point shot with a guy in the way.

I'm not understanding this discussion. K said that he decided that this game would not go into overtime, he did not want his team to play in overtime. He wanted the game to end in regulation. You don't believe him?

CDu
04-08-2010, 01:34 PM
I'm not understanding this discussion. K said that he decided that this game would not go into overtime, he did not want his team to play in overtime. He wanted the game to end in regulation. You don't believe him?

Well, would Coach K throw his player under the bus? I'd argue that he'd never throw a player under the bus.

Part of the discussion has been as to whether or not there was mixup in communication about the second free throw. In other words, it could have been that the strategy was "intentionally miss the second IF you miss the first, but try to make both if you make the first." If that's the case (and none of us are in any position to assess this, then there may have been a mixup in communication about the decision between player and coaches. In that scenario, I would fully expect Coach K to say that Zoubek did what he was told to do. Coach K wouldn't let people think that Zoubek goofed up.

Now, I wouldn't be surprised if what Coach K said on the matter was completely true. But I also wouldn't be shocked if Coach K told a "little white lie" to keep any heat/debate on his decision rather than implying that the player may have goofed.

Thankfully, it's all just water cooler talk because we won anyway.

InSpades
04-08-2010, 01:39 PM
I'm not understanding this discussion. K said that he decided that this game would not go into overtime, he did not want his team to play in overtime. He wanted the game to end in regulation. You don't believe him?

I'm not understanding what you're not understanding. If the options are:
A. Go to overtime.
B. Lose.

Which do you think Coach K would choose? I'm reasonably certain if faced with these options that K would choose to go to OT.

No one is questioning K's honesty, just his decision. If you believe that there is a 0% chance Duke wins in overtime and that missing the free throw decreases their chance of scoring at all then this discussion is entirely pointless. Apparently some people disagree though. Hence the discussion.

Edit: Maybe CDu is questioning K's honesty :). And I agree his scenario is atleast plausible.

UrinalCake
04-08-2010, 01:44 PM
I think it's ridiculous to expect a team to get an open 3 off an in-bounds play w/ only 3.6 seconds left on the clock.

This guy only needed 2.5 seconds

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0haGKGiX9qA&feature=related

His brother is now the coach at Baylor, who we had beaten, so he might have given the playbook to Butler so they could beat us :)

CDu
04-08-2010, 01:50 PM
I'm not understanding what you're not understanding. If the options are:
A. Go to overtime.
B. Lose.

Which do you think Coach K would choose? I'm reasonably certain if faced with these options that K would choose to go to OT.

No one is questioning K's honesty, just his decision. If you believe that there is a 0% chance Duke wins in overtime and that missing the free throw decreases their chance of scoring at all then this discussion is entirely pointless. Apparently some people disagree though. Hence the discussion.

But those aren't the only options. "Win in regulation" is an option, too. There's perfectly reasonable debate over whether missing the second increases or decreases the total probability of winning.

Also, sending it to overtime doesn't prevent a loss. It just delays the ultimate outcome (win or loss).

I think it's perfectly fair to question whether Coach K was being truthful. There's no harm in telling a little fib to protect the player if the player happened to misunderstood the strategy. It's also possible that the strategy was exactly as played out. We'll never know for sure.

InSpades
04-08-2010, 02:09 PM
But those aren't the only options. "Win in regulation" is an option, too. There's perfectly reasonable debate over whether missing the second increases or decreases the total probability of winning.


I'm fully aware of this... which is why I'm *not* the one asking why there's a discussion. It all comes down to how much worse of a shot you think they get by making the free throw (is it a 5% shot vs. a 25% shot? Or a 5% shot vs. a 10% shot) and what you think Duke's chances of winning the game in OT would be. There's no way to really know either of those things... hence the debate.

CDu
04-08-2010, 02:14 PM
I'm fully aware of this... which is why I'm *not* the one asking why there's a discussion. It all comes down to how much worse of a shot you think they get by making the free throw (is it a 5% shot vs. a 25% shot? Or a 5% shot vs. a 10% shot) and what you think Duke's chances of winning the game in OT would be. There's no way to really know either of those things... hence the debate.

Agreed. It's a perfectly reasonable topic of discussion, and certainly not one that has a clear and obviously correct answer.

_Gary
04-08-2010, 02:21 PM
No way do I believe for one second Coach K is telling a "little white lie" in this situation. I've heard him speak about this (not just read the transcripts) on 2 different occasions since Monday night and it's clear to me he believed it was the better bet to have Z miss the 2nd free throw on purpose and let the game play out. He talked about not only the fact that his two best frontcourt players were playing with 4 fouls and might not make it through OT without being disqualified, but also about the fact that the "David and Goliath" thing was already influencing some of the calls and he honestly didn't think Duke would have much of a chance if the game went into OT. He was very direct and honest about this. On top of that, he actually talked about feeling like the game was coming down to, if you would, destiny or fate (in large part because Duke could never seem to pull away) and his gut told him to let it play out in regulation just like it happened. He either wanted Duke to win it right then and there or lose it. Going to OT was NOT an alternative in his mind. He said this in no uncertain terms.

Now, if you guys honestly think he'd so blatantly lie about that so be it. I heard him and his voice didn't sound to me like he was hedging or telling a little white lie at all. I believe him 100%.

Gary

CDu
04-08-2010, 02:50 PM
Now, if you guys honestly think he'd so blatantly lie about that so be it. I heard him and his voice didn't sound to me like he was hedging or telling a little white lie at all. I believe him 100%.

I'm not saying that I believe he told a "little white lie." But I can certainly see a scenario in which he did so. Ultimately, we'll never know for sure. Only Coach K and the team/staff that were there can know. We can only take what we hear from them and make guesses based on the data (verbal and statistical).

Further, I don't think there's anything wrong with either scenario. I'd fully be okay with telling a "little white lie" if it was to protect your player. And I'd be fully okay if he was being completely honest about his strategy. I don't have a problem with either one. The former is evidence of being a good coach looking out for your players, and the other is simply evidence of a coach making a difficult in-game decision.

Mal
04-08-2010, 02:53 PM
Well, would Coach K throw his player under the bus? I'd argue that he'd never throw a player under the bus.

I agree. I also believe, however, that (if it's what actually happened) explaining that there was a miscommunication is not equivalent to throwing a player under the bus. Had we lost because of it and K didn't go out of his way to make sure there was no possible way to blame the player (and we know he would go out of his way to do so), that would be a problem. As it is, however, we won: I suspect that if it had been a communication breakdown or freelancing by Zoubs or whatever, K would crack a joke about it, most likely at Wojo's expense, everyone would laugh, K would then say something to the effect of who the hell cares, we won? and then focus on the importance of Zoub's inbound defense, shot altering against Hayward, and getting the rebound that put him on the line, and end of story. Just my humble opinion.

CDu
04-08-2010, 02:59 PM
I agree. I also believe, however, that (if it's what actually happened) explaining that there was a miscommunication is not equivalent to throwing a player under the bus. Had we lost because of it and K didn't go out of his way to make sure there was no possible way to blame the player (and we know he would go out of his way to do so), that would be a problem. As it is, however, we won: I suspect that if it had been a communication breakdown or freelancing by Zoubs or whatever, K would crack a joke about it, most likely at Wojo's expense, everyone would laugh, K would then say something to the effect of who the hell cares, we won? and then focus on the importance of Zoub's inbound defense, shot altering against Hayward, and getting the rebound that put him on the line, and end of story. Just my humble opinion.

That is a very reasonable guess. And I agree that the "little white lie" story is MUCH more probable had we lost. I could certainly see your scenario playing out if there had indeed been a misunderstanding.

greybeard
04-08-2010, 03:11 PM
Well, would Coach K throw his player under the bus? I'd argue that he'd never throw a player under the bus.

Part of the discussion has been as to whether or not there was mixup in communication about the second free throw. In other words, it could have been that the strategy was "intentionally miss the second IF you miss the first, but try to make both if you make the first." If that's the case (and none of us are in any position to assess this, then there may have been a mixup in communication about the decision between player and coaches. In that scenario, I would fully expect Coach K to say that Zoubek did what he was told to do. Coach K wouldn't let people think that Zoubek goofed up.

Now, I wouldn't be surprised if what Coach K said on the matter was completely true. But I also wouldn't be shocked if Coach K told a "little white lie" to keep any heat/debate on his decision rather than implying that the player may have goofed.

Thankfully, it's all just water cooler talk because we won anyway.

Wow. Duke did everything perfectly in the last 3 plus minutes it usually does to create separation and nobody could make a shot, nobody. Two wide open threes, Smith and Scheyer miss; Smith gets to the rim on a finger roll from an inch below the rim, miss; Singler gets into the lane with no one defending, a 10 footer, miss; Zoubek gets an offensive rebound and throws the ball out the window, if there were any. Lance steals the ball and calls time out, the Butler guy dives on him but never gets anywhere near the ball, it ends up Butler ball. OH, I ALMOST FORGOT, THE BEDROCK OF HIS DEFENSE AND HIS BOARD PLAY HAD FOUR FOULS AND, IN ZOUBEK'S CASE, HAD PLAYED WAY MORE MINUTES THAN EVER. THIS IS IN BOLD TYPE BECAUSE K SAID IT WAS A MAIN REASON BEHIND HIS DECISION.


No. I don't think it is possible that Zoubek made a misstake, got it wrong. Absolutely not. A shred of evidence might be helpful.

Duke had nothing to gain by allowing this game to go to overtime and everything to lose, everything that it played for this season, at least in the public eye, if not also in their own.

No, K decided it ends now, on our terms, with the odds wildly in our favor, and should lightening strike, it will strike. But, the thing ends now.

No one has presented a sensible reason for K to have wanted it any other way. The only thing that I think he was being slightly disingenuous about, the generosity of someone whom was shot at but the guy missed, was saying that "that call is never made." I think that he believed that the refs had been swayed, as he said "by the David vs. Golliath thing, and choked, not in Duke's favor.

Izzo, a man's man if I ever heard one, outright said that his team would have won but for "the Factor," that the refs stunk.

So, plug in your numbers all you want, K made the call that he could afford to loose, his team could afford to loose, on a miracle shot, they all could live with that and hold their heads high for the rest of their lives. I think he logically believed that the great probability was that they would win. But, win or lose, overtime was not going to happen. He, K, and no one else on that court, not the referee, not the Butler coach, not Heyward or anyone else, had anything to say about it. K, whose team played more than well enough to win by anyone's account, was either going to loose on a play that was a hope and a prayer or reap the victory that they had earned.

That is what K says. It was his decision. That decision fits with everything K has said about this team and how he feels about it, and everything that everyone else had been saying about this team, all of which would have been resurrected if lightening struck and then Duke went down in OT. It also fits with the odds that would justify an all-in bet, and with K's fully understandable feel for the game, which he says made OVERTIME NOT AN OPTION HE WAS PREPARED TO HAVE HIS PLAYERS HAVE TO FACE.

A daring, terrific decision by the best coach in the business. Was there risk? Hey, if there is life there is risk. But, as K said with a look of satisfaction that could only come from having gone all in in the biggest pot of all, "It worked, didn't it?"

hurleyfor3
04-08-2010, 03:22 PM
Lets back up a few seconds. :) ;) :rolleyes:

Suppose as soon as Zoubek gets the rebound from Heyward's miss, he throws a high, lazy pass downcourt to no one. There is a scramble to get the ball before it goes out of bounds.

Does that eat the 4-5 seconds left?

Is there any reasonable chance he -- or any player -- could have made that instant decision?

Would that have been a good idea?

sagegrouse

I think there was too much time remaining to do this with confidence. One or two seconds, maybe. Otherwise if there's any time left and it touches no one, Butler gets it under its own basket down one (so they win on ANY field goal). I absolutely do not want this scenario.

Troublemaker
04-08-2010, 03:31 PM
This front page article with Mike Francesa goes into great detail onthe analysis

http://www.wfan.com/topic/play_window.php?audioType=Episode&audioId=4543743

Excellent rapport between the other Mike & MIke's

This really was an outstanding interview and I had no idea Francesa's basketball knowledge was so good. I thought he showed an excellent understanding of this Duke team, how it developed, how it matched up with opponents, and so forth.

Troublemaker
04-08-2010, 03:40 PM
BTW, I thought about the "shoe on the other foot" scenario today (I'm pretty sure I was slow to do this as the thought had probably crossed other people's minds way before today).

If Duke had been trailing by two with 3.6 seconds left, no timeouts, and Butler at the line for a second free throw, would I have wanted Butler to make the free throw or miss intentionally?

I gotta say, I think I'd prefer the ball out-of-bounds down three. Which is weird because as a Duke fan under the real reverse scenario, my instinct was that Zoubek should try to make the free throw. Very weird.

Starter
04-08-2010, 03:57 PM
This really was an outstanding interview and I had no idea Francesa's basketball knowledge was so good. I thought he showed an excellent understanding of this Duke team, how it developed, how it matched up with opponents, and so forth.

It's weird, Francesa doesn't talk about college hoops all year. I think he only really watches the locals. But at tournament time, he really does do a pretty good job with it. And he's long been an admirer of Krzyzewski, who he has on the show all the time. Francesa's not perfect, but he did a great job here.

TampaDuke
04-08-2010, 04:53 PM
Also, I'm not upset with Howard screening Singler and not getting called for it, in and of itself. Kyle wasn't going to seriously contest the shot, anyway, as he was a full step behind, not looking to risk a foul, and Hayward was going to his right. And no ref is going to call something off the ball in the deciding seconds.

I agree and take it one step further -- the screen may have helped us by preventing Kyle from trying to block Hayward's shot.

Kyle wasn't in position to block it and I am not so sure that the referees would have the same hesitation if Kyle were to make neglible contact with Hayward as he was shooting. I know Kyle would not intentionally do so, but I'm not as confident his competitive fire would have not caused him to lunge from behind at the last second. Hayward is savvy enough to exaggerate any contact (or even any close "non-contact").

TampaDuke
04-08-2010, 05:04 PM
The issue of not wanting to go to OT with Thomas and Zoubek each with four fouls is a valid concern.

That said, I viewed the foul situation as a positive for us, or at least a wash, in an OT scenario. Their two big guys also had four.

Our guys had been able to play a considerable amount of time with four fouls. Their two big guys (really the two players that primarily caused us problems defending) could not.

We have depth with our bigs, they did not. Stated differently, if Thomas or Zoubek fouls out, it hurts us but we can still win. If Howard fouls out, they're likely done. This seems like a positive for us or, at the least, it seems like a wash if you believe that the refs might be slightly more prone to a call on us in OT given Butler's momentum.

_Gary
04-08-2010, 05:24 PM
Coach, I thought, made it clear that the foul trouble for our bigs was only one of several reasons he didn't want to go to OT. He talked about the "Cinderella" factor and how it had impacted the officiating (especially late), how the crowd would have been crazy, and also a gut feeling that the basketball gods (if you will) seemed to be swaying major momentum toward Butler as the game wound down. He uses the words "basketball gods" at the same time that Francesa used the word "ordained" to describe why Duke couldn't pull away near the end. Coach K has always coached on feeling and instinct and don't dismiss this last point as being silly or irrelevant. He made it clear he felt everything was going against Duke as that game was winding down and he wanted no part of OT. I commend him for having the guts to go with that type of decision based on instinct and how the game was flowing and progressing.

bluepenguin
04-08-2010, 05:36 PM
If you haven't done it already, listen to the Coach K interview with 99.9 linked on the main page. He goes into great detail on his decision. And by the way, it had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with probabilities.

tendev
04-08-2010, 05:51 PM
Does anyone on this board know better than K whether it is easier to hit a three off an inbounds pass than it is after grabbing a rebound on a missed free throw? All this discussion about probabilities that are arbitrarily assigned is a fools game. I have not heard his explanation but I assume that he thought, based on his experience as a coach, that missing the second free throw was the better strategy. One can second-guess that strategy, and it provides for interesting discussion, but in the end you have to give the benefit of the doubt to the guy who has coached 4 NCAA Champions. His strategy was the better one. Hayward missed; Duke won. Discussion over.

Johnboy
04-08-2010, 06:27 PM
If you haven't done it already, listen to the Coach K interview with 99.9 linked on the main page. He goes into great detail on his decision. And by the way, it had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with probabilities.

. . . unless you think a coach's feel for the game has anything to do with probabilities. He explains the decision in great detail in that interview, and he remembered Laettner's shot and, along with other factors - foul trouble, road game environment, two missed shots, inability to pull away, momentum with Butler - thought that (1) he wanted no part of overtime and (2) wanted to deny Butler an opportunity to set up a long inbounds play.

He was thinking about the probability of losing in overtime and decided that Duke's best probability to win was for BZ to miss the FT and have his defense ready to defend in the ensuing chaos. It had something to do with probabilities, but Coach K didn't have time to break out a mathematical model.

sagegrouse
04-08-2010, 06:36 PM
Does anyone on this board know better than K whether it is easier to hit a three off an inbounds pass than it is after grabbing a rebound on a missed free throw? All this discussion about probabilities that are arbitrarily assigned is a fools game.

Hayward missed; Duke won. Discussion over.

I do, of course. :rolleyes: (Actually, I agree with K.) As far as I know, there was only one NCAA tournament game decided on a half-court shot. I believe it was Western Kentucky, back in the short-pants era, that hit one at the buzzer. Maybe someone knows of others.

There have been a whole bunch decided on a long pass off a dead ball and a conventional shot, whether two points or three: Duke-Ky, UConn-Clemson (1990), most obviously. But I believe there have been many, many others.

Why aren't there more games won with shots from halfcourt and beyond? I would reckon the chance of making a rushed half court shot is about 2%. Yeah, I know. I am making up numbers. But give me some examples of games won with shots from halfcourt or beyond. Ten percent, which has been cited above, is more like the percentage for guys taking multiple practice shots from half court.

If it's two percent or anything below five percent, this is a no-brainer for any bench coach. It ain't gonna happen in this lifetime.

Then again, maybe I am missing some other miracle shots.

sagegrouse

Johnboy
04-08-2010, 06:47 PM
oops - he says a lot of the same things in both interviews, but the one with Francesa is better, IMO, and is the one I was referring to.

SilkyJ
04-08-2010, 06:48 PM
My apologies in advance for not reading all the rest of the posts, and I'm sure this was covered by some, but I think one thing that factored into K's decision to have him miss was the fact that our guys looked BEAT at the end, especially Kyle and so the chances of us winning in an OT were reduced than they might normally have been.

Their reserves played way more than ours, and I'm telling you I was sitting ~30 yards away from Kyle behind the duke bench (ish) and he looked beat at the end, as did Jon, which makes sense after scrapping and fighting against Butler's good D all game. Not to mention Butler got a ton of momentum down the stretch as we hung on by a thread. So them tying the game might as well have been them winning...

Anyway, with the very low probability of Butler hitting that shot and the high(er) probability of Butler winning in OT due to what I just mentioned, I can see K taking the gamble.

/2 cents

Relics
04-08-2010, 07:39 PM
If you haven't done it already, listen to the Coach K interview with 99.9 linked on the main page. He goes into great detail on his decision. And by the way, it had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with probabilities.


"That course of action at that time, I felt, percentage-wise, gave us the greatest chance of winning."
-K, on 99.9 FM (http://www.wralsportsfan.com/duke/audio/7378373/)

Maybe he didn't compute it with a little pocket calculator, but it's the same basic idea.

greybeard
04-08-2010, 07:50 PM
My apologies in advance for not reading all the rest of the posts, and I'm sure this was covered by some, but I think one thing that factored into K's decision to have him miss was the fact that our guys looked BEAT at the end, especially Kyle and so the chances of us winning in an OT were reduced than they might normally have been.

Their reserves played way more than ours, and I'm telling you I was sitting ~30 yards away from Kyle behind the duke bench (ish) and he looked beat at the end, as did Jon, which makes sense after scrapping and fighting against Butler's good D all game. Not to mention Butler got a ton of momentum down the stretch as we hung on by a thread. So them tying the game might as well have been them winning...

Anyway, with the very low probability of Butler hitting that shot and the high(er) probability of Butler winning in OT due to what I just mentioned, I can see K taking the gamble.

/2 cents

I usually don't envy guys with money and/or yank (okay, but not very much), but this, this is insane. I'm glad an old guy did it. Young and fit and his whole life ahead of him would have been too much to take. An old man having such good fortune, hey, I might even find a space to be happy for him. Very.

Thanks for the up close look. They still managed to create the looks that you'd expect from them to close anyone out when playing with a lead, however small. They played like Champions without a doubt.

Thirty feet away. Bye, I'm going out to buy myself a nasty sweet dessert. :eek:

devildownunder
04-08-2010, 08:06 PM
No way do I believe for one second Coach K is telling a "little white lie" in this situation. I've heard him speak about this (not just read the transcripts) on 2 different occasions since Monday night and it's clear to me he believed it was the better bet to have Z miss the 2nd free throw on purpose and let the game play out. He talked about not only the fact that his two best frontcourt players were playing with 4 fouls and might not make it through OT without being disqualified, but also about the fact that the "David and Goliath" thing was already influencing some of the calls and he honestly didn't think Duke would have much of a chance if the game went into OT. He was very direct and honest about this. On top of that, he actually talked about feeling like the game was coming down to, if you would, destiny or fate (in large part because Duke could never seem to pull away) and his gut told him to let it play out in regulation just like it happened. He either wanted Duke to win it right then and there or lose it. Going to OT was NOT an alternative in his mind. He said this in no uncertain terms.

Now, if you guys honestly think he'd so blatantly lie about that so be it. I heard him and his voice didn't sound to me like he was hedging or telling a little white lie at all. I believe him 100%.

Gary

Agree 100%. It's about a feel for the game. You can plug percentages, probabilities and any numbers of statistics into a computer all you want and it'll never give you that feel for the intangible -- because it can't. K took a calculated risk, and I agreed with him in the moment. Obviously, I still do now. :)

devildownunder
04-08-2010, 08:09 PM
Lets back up a few seconds. :) ;) :rolleyes:

Suppose as soon as Zoubek gets the rebound from Heyward's miss, he throws a high, lazy pass downcourt to no one. There is a scramble to get the ball before it goes out of bounds.

Does that eat the 4-5 seconds left?

Is there any reasonable chance he -- or any player -- could have made that instant decision?

Would that have been a good idea?

sagegrouse

That would have been the perfect play. Unfortunately, all of our guys are too young to remember when Magic did this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZnLgYfhhKw).

Ah, Magic Johnson. Such understanding of the game. Sheer joy.

devildownunder
04-08-2010, 08:11 PM
This really was an outstanding interview and I had no idea Francesa's basketball knowledge was so good. I thought he showed an excellent understanding of this Duke team, how it developed, how it matched up with opponents, and so forth.

Francesa was a fan and a consumer before he was a journalist and he still remembers how to bring the best parts of those aspects of his character into his broadcasting work. Unfortunately, too many of his peers bring in the worst parts instead.

Duvall
04-08-2010, 08:21 PM
That would have been the perfect play. Unfortunately, all of our guys are too young to remember when Magic did this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZnLgYfhhKw).

Ah, Magic Johnson. Such understanding of the game. Sheer joy.

Maybe, maybe not (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXAh6q-swKE&NR=1).

Reilly
04-08-2010, 08:23 PM
... K took a calculated risk, and I agreed with him in the moment. Obviously, I still do now. :)

Yes, it was a calculated risk ... and it was calculated (by K) as giving the team the greatest probability of victory based on K's assessment of Butler in OT and Butler making a set-up 3. So, while it *was* a calculated risk, it was calculated, by K, as being *less* risky than the alternative. Another way to say it is that K took the safe, sane, rational route, as figured by him.

DevilHorns
04-08-2010, 08:32 PM
Maybe, maybe not (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXAh6q-swKE&NR=1).

Good memory. Absolutely loved that play.

devildownunder
04-08-2010, 08:43 PM
Maybe, maybe not (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXAh6q-swKE&NR=1).

haha! Thanks for reminding me of that play. I guess we should've just wished for Scheyer to get the rebound, then. :)

I wonder if Jon knows about Magic's play against Portland. Hmmm.

DevilHorns
04-08-2010, 08:46 PM
haha! Thanks for reminding me of that play. I guess we should've just wished for Scheyer to get the rebound, then. :)

I wonder if Jon knows about Magic's play against Portland. Hmmm.

Even if he did, its not like it was running in his mind in that split second of jumping out of bounds. Jon just has a natural feel for the game. Man I'm going to miss him.

alteran
04-08-2010, 08:49 PM
Maybe, maybe not (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXAh6q-swKE&NR=1).

That play was alarmingly unathletic.

Turk
04-08-2010, 09:14 PM
I watched the game again (woo hoo!) My belief is that 3.6 seconds is too much time for the intentional miss. A faster dribbler than Hayward could have gotten the ball well into the Duke side of the court for an even closer look.

IMHO, trying to make the 2nd shot and going up by 3 gives Duke a couple of extra advantages in this specific situation. Butler gets a max of 4 seconds to set up and inbound, which is the biggest risk. But they have no timeouts, and meanwhile Duke gets to set up too. Zoubs covers the inbounder, which is good for Duke even given the fact Butler could run the baseline if they wanted. If Butler inbounds in the backcourt to someone like Mack who pushes it up with the dribble, Duke has the option to trap and foul intelligently. I would be OK with a foul here, since Duke owned the defensive glass in the 2nd half and should collect Butler's own intentional miss if they make the 1st. If Butler goes for a halfcourt pass or longer, I like Duke's chances to intercept or deflect. None of the Butler players were so dominant they could create their own 3 off a one-on-one move when the D knows it's their only option.

But suppose Butler somehow manages to make a 3 at the buzzer. While Z and Lance have 4 fouls, don't forget both Howard The Hammer and Joliet Jukes also had 4 fouls for Butler, so they are at risk too. And the refs were pretty much letting them play. My sense of the game (from my living room) was that Duke would have been fine in OT, although clearly no Duke fan would have wanted to find out.

So given all that, it seems to me trying to make the 2nd free throw can only gain. If it's an unintentional miss, that scenario should play out the exact same way as it did. One could make the case that the intentional miss had an element of surprise (it surprised Clark Kellogg), but since Zoubs is not a good foul shooter, the surprise should be fairly small....

Credit Butler for setting up such a clear and controlled look at the basket by their best player. I remember watching the Bulter / Syracuse game when the Orange had a 4 point lead with less than 3 mins and thinking to myself, "Well, Butler, congrats on a nice run - you did yourself proud" and then later "wow - Syracuse completely self-destructed yet again..." I think that assessment is wrong in hindsight.

Probabilities will only take you so far (of course you can't ignore them). But every situation is different - each team's strengths and weaknesses and how they match up against an opponent means that there is no right answer....

devildownunder
04-08-2010, 09:41 PM
Even if he did, its not like it was running in his mind in that split second of jumping out of bounds. Jon just has a natural feel for the game. Man I'm going to miss him.

Geez man, I'm just wondering if he'd seen it. Yes, Jon has a natural feel for the game. I never tried to imply otherwise. Just wondering outloud if he had seen Magic's play.

Didn't really think I needed to spell that out.

DevilHorns
04-08-2010, 09:55 PM
Geez man, I'm just wondering if he'd seen it. Yes, Jon has a natural feel for the game. I never tried to imply otherwise. Just wondering outloud if he had seen Magic's play.

Didn't really think I needed to spell that out.

Sorry, was just thinking out loud. Wasn't trying to attack you or try to imply anything about how you view Jon's game, relax.

greybeard
04-08-2010, 10:24 PM
IProbabilities will only take you so far (of course you can't ignore them). But every situation is different - each team's strengths and weaknesses and how they match up against an opponent means that there is no right answer....

Of course there was a right answer. K was certain of it. K had coached the team to that point in space in time, he was the guy with the decisional authority, and he decided that he would live or die with a despiration shot, period.

No other decision was possible. The decision worked. If it had not, it would have still worked.

There was something grand and bold about K's decision. You're point seems to be that another decision figured out to its multiple permutations could have danced a finer line and perhaps denied Butler a chance to tie. K doesn't roll that way; chose not to in this circumstance. There is a time for fiddle faddling and there is a time to bet the pot and let the thing be done. K decided that the time for fidle faddling had past. The victory was there for the taking, or not, and he was ready, his team was ready. He didn't want no fiddle faddle victory--he and his guys were walking in the front door.

K earned the right to make that call. No one else on the planet had. No one, certainly no one here. His team came into this game with a bold offensive gambit, made great plays throughout, and having walked into the gym as men to win a championship, they were not going out having tried to win like mice. I think it was cool. Your way wouldn't have been.

Johnboy
04-08-2010, 10:53 PM
1984 Orange Bowl (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1984_Orange_Bowl) - Tom Osborne made quite a few fans in defeat as he went for the win and failed, giving Miami its first National Championship. Had Nebraska tied the game with an extra point, the Huskers would certainly have retained their #1 ranking. Osbourne explained that he and his players didn't want to back into the championship with a tie, but wanted to win it or lose it outright.

There's no wrong answer here. I respect Coach K's decision to roll the dice and win or lose with defense, chaos and a long shot.

devildownunder
04-08-2010, 11:06 PM
1984 Orange Bowl (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1984_Orange_Bowl) - Tom Osborne made quite a few fans in defeat as he went for the win and failed, giving Miami its first National Championship. Had Nebraska tied the game with an extra point, the Huskers would certainly have retained their #1 ranking. Osbourne explained that he and his players didn't want to back into the championship with a tie, but wanted to win it or lose it outright.

There's no wrong answer here. I respect Coach K's decision to roll the dice and win or lose with defense, chaos and a long shot.

I don't think those two situations are parallel.

Johnboy
04-08-2010, 11:49 PM
I don't think those two situations are parallel.

I was responding to greybeard's statement that "having walked into the gym as men to win a championship, they were not going out having tried to win like mice. I think it was cool. Your way wouldn't have been." It reminded me of Osborne's decision not to play it safe and tie, but to win or lose "like a man, not a mouse." Not perfectly parallel, but a national title was on the line in both cases.

devildownunder
04-09-2010, 01:11 AM
I was responding to greybeard's statement that "having walked into the gym as men to win a championship, they were not going out having tried to win like mice. I think it was cool. Your way wouldn't have been." It reminded me of Osborne's decision not to play it safe and tie, but to win or lose "like a man, not a mouse." Not perfectly parallel, but a national title was on the line in both cases.

Ah, OK. Well, I certainly agree that the Nebraska championship game was a clear choice of trying to win like a man, rather than backing into something. (and it's also yet another indictment of the ways college football has chosen to decide its championships. such a situation should never have been possible).

But I don't think K was trying to win like a man, rather than back into it. There was no cheap way to win in this situation. I think he just saw the window of opportunity for a victory closing and decided to gamble a bit on his best chance to win the game right then.

devildownunder
04-09-2010, 01:24 AM
I watched the game again (woo hoo!) My belief is that 3.6 seconds is too much time for the intentional miss. A faster dribbler than Hayward could have gotten the ball well into the Duke side of the court for an even closer look.

IMHO, trying to make the 2nd shot and going up by 3 gives Duke a couple of extra advantages in this specific situation. Butler gets a max of 4 seconds to set up and inbound, which is the biggest risk. But they have no timeouts, and meanwhile Duke gets to set up too. Zoubs covers the inbounder, which is good for Duke even given the fact Butler could run the baseline if they wanted. If Butler inbounds in the backcourt to someone like Mack who pushes it up with the dribble, Duke has the option to trap and foul intelligently. I would be OK with a foul here, since Duke owned the defensive glass in the 2nd half and should collect Butler's own intentional miss if they make the 1st. If Butler goes for a halfcourt pass or longer, I like Duke's chances to intercept or deflect. None of the Butler players were so dominant they could create their own 3 off a one-on-one move when the D knows it's their only option.

But suppose Butler somehow manages to make a 3 at the buzzer. While Z and Lance have 4 fouls, don't forget both Howard The Hammer and Joliet Jukes also had 4 fouls for Butler, so they are at risk too. And the refs were pretty much letting them play. My sense of the game (from my living room) was that Duke would have been fine in OT, although clearly no Duke fan would have wanted to find out.

So given all that, it seems to me trying to make the 2nd free throw can only gain. If it's an unintentional miss, that scenario should play out the exact same way as it did. One could make the case that the intentional miss had an element of surprise (it surprised Clark Kellogg), but since Zoubs is not a good foul shooter, the surprise should be fairly small....

Credit Butler for setting up such a clear and controlled look at the basket by their best player. I remember watching the Bulter / Syracuse game when the Orange had a 4 point lead with less than 3 mins and thinking to myself, "Well, Butler, congrats on a nice run - you did yourself proud" and then later "wow - Syracuse completely self-destructed yet again..." I think that assessment is wrong in hindsight.

Probabilities will only take you so far (of course you can't ignore them). But every situation is different - each team's strengths and weaknesses and how they match up against an opponent means that there is no right answer....

I think the last bit of this -- "every situation is different" -- is why your case doesn't hold up next to K's reasoning. He (rightly IMO) had no interest in overtime, for a number of reasons: the crowd, lack of offensive momentum, foul trouble and the "hometown underdog" story's potential influence on the referees in a critical moment. So he decided to try to win the game right then, and adopted the best strategy for that situation.

Let's consider all that went right for Butler after Z's miss. The Bulldogs' best player got the rebound, he got it cleanly, he was able to advance the ball right away without having to maneuver around opponents directly in his path, he got an illegal screen without a foul call and he was able to get the shot off without anyone there to put a hand in his face. Even with all that, the best shot they got was a half-court heave, one that missed. I think what you saw was the best defense for K's strategy. Butler got pretty much everything it could have wanted in that situation and they still got an extremely low-percentage shot that failed.

In other words, Butler got lucky and still didn't win. When you put your team in a position where that can happen, you have done your strategic job as a coach.

deadhead_dukie
04-09-2010, 01:33 AM
I bow down to you for coming up w/ these stats...

Intelligent sports fans? What a novel idea!

Reilly
04-09-2010, 08:23 AM
... I think he just saw the window of opportunity for a victory closing and decided to gamble a bit on his best chance to win the game right then.

It was *not* a gamble by K if by "gamble" you mean the least likely outcome. Someone's rolling a dice, and you can pick 1-5 inclusive, or pick 6. Picking 6 is a "gamble" b/c it is less likely, but if you got that feeling, you got that feeling, and you go with 6 (and lose 5/6 of the time). That's a "gamble."

What K did was pick the path of most probable victory based on his assessment of Butler's chance of a set-up 3 and Butler's chance in OT. It was not a "gamble" as that word is generally understood. It was a sane, safe, most-likely-to-occur-to-his-mind decision.

You can disagree reasonably that K mis-valued Butler's chance of making the set-up 3, or Butler's chance in OT.

But based on what K has said, K chose the most probable path to his mind. It was not a case where K weighed one option, then weighed the other, and K went with the least probable b/c he "had a feeling". He played the odds. He may have mis-calculated them, which is a different matter. But he picked the "safe" path as he saw it. It goes against "conventional wisdom" but that does not make it wrong and it does not make the decision more risky, at all.

CDu
04-09-2010, 09:49 AM
It was *not* a gamble by K if by "gamble" you mean the least likely outcome. Someone's rolling a dice, and you can pick 1-5 inclusive, or pick 6. Picking 6 is a "gamble" b/c it is less likely, but if you got that feeling, you got that feeling, and you go with 6 (and lose 5/6 of the time). That's a "gamble."

Technically, this is not correct. A gamble is merely any time you make a decision based on an uncertain outcome. What you're describing is also a gamble, but the connotation you're applying should be described as "playing against the odds," or "taking a longshot." In your "pick a number" scenario, both choices are gambles. If you choose 1-5, you're gambling that it won't be 6. The outcome isn't certain - you just have better odds of being correct. But even if you are playing the best odds, you're gambling.

Reilly
04-09-2010, 10:30 AM
Technically, this is not correct. A gamble is merely any time you make a decision based on an uncertain outcome. What you're describing is also a gamble, but the connotation you're applying should be described as "playing against the odds," or "taking a longshot." In your "pick a number" scenario, both choices are gambles. If you choose 1-5, you're gambling that it won't be 6. The outcome isn't certain - you just have better odds of being correct. But even if you are playing the best odds, you're gambling.

I agree with you 100% ... that's why I said K's decision was not a 'gamble' as the term is generally understood (read: used).

When people say a coach 'gambled' ... they usually (it seems to me) mean the coach took the longshot, the against-the-odds choice.

Of course picking the favored path is still gambling as you note. Much (not all) of the criticism/praise of K seems to be along the lines of he went against the odds (either critiques that he was crazy for going against the odds; or praise that he's a macho gunslinger who knew when to go against the odds) .... when, in fact, K went *with* the odds and did not "gamble" (lay definition) at all, as he has set out his decision-making analysis

The only way for K to not technically gamble is to sit there passively and make no decision at all. So, yes, he gambled technically as he made a choice, but the choice he made was not the longshot, to his mind.

bluedevildaddy
04-09-2010, 10:42 AM
I bow down to you for coming up w/ these stats...

Intelligent sports fans? What a novel idea!

From his comments, it appears that Coach was trying to avoid going to OT if he possibly could. I don't remember if he has said that he would have made a different decision if a better foul shooter than Brian had been fouled, (ie. JS, NS or KS) but I'm pretty sure it was a factor in his decision to have Brian miss intentionally. For the fun of it, I took a look at Brian's FT shooting performance for the season. Here are some facts to consider:

1) For the season, Brian shot 43/78=55.1%.
2) In the ACC Tourney Brian shot 7/8=87.5%.
3) In the NCAA Tourney Brian shot 8/14=57.1%
4) For the season, Brian made 2 of 2 FT attempts (resulting from the same foul call) 11 times. (I have not yet broken down how many of these were 2 shot fouls or 1&1 situations.)
5) In the ACC Tourney, Brian made 2 of 2 FT attempts twice vs Miami.
6) In the NCAA Tourney, Brian made 2 of 2 FT attempts once in the Purdue game.
7) In the final game, Brian made 1 of 2 FT attempts in the first half. These were his only FT attempts for the game prior to the last 2.
8) There were 15 games during the season that Brian did not attempt a FT. ( I thought this was surprising!)

I still want to take a look at how many times, during the season, Brian made the second of two FT attempts after making the first. I am curious what the probability was that Brian would make that second FT on Monday night when he stepped to the line! If any of you brainiacs have that answer, please pass it along!

camion
04-09-2010, 10:42 AM
One thing to note is that whether the decision is to make or miss the final free throw the odds of Duke winning in regulation are much greater than 50%, probably in the 80% to 90% range. So no matter what his choice the risk is minimal, but in either case losing is a possibility. I am perfectly happy to let K choose the route he prefers and let it play out. In this case the probability box has been opened, the state function has collapsed, Schroedinger's dog died and Duke won. Good for us.

InSpades
04-09-2010, 10:48 AM
When would a coach actually "gamble" then? When would a coach say... hey if we do option A we have a 20% chance to win... if we do option B we have a 10% chance to win. Let's go with option B! I'm betting most coaches have a logical reasoning for most of their decisions (whether that logic is sound or not we can debate).

I don't think the question was ever "did Coach K knowingly choose the option that gave Duke a lower chance of winning?". That would be a silly question to debate.

You can view what K did as a "high risk, high reward" type of gamble. If I gave you favorable odds to bet your entire life savings would you do it? Would you consider it a "gamble"? Even if you are heavily favored to win it's still a big risk because you could walk away with nothing. It's kind of what K did here... he put losing in regulation onto the table for a greater chance to win overall.

Reilly
04-09-2010, 10:54 AM
I don't remember if he has said that he would have made a different decision if a better foul shooter than Brian had been fouled, (ie. JS,NS or KS) but I'm pretty sure it was a factor in his decision to have Brian miss intentionally.

Some Duke classmate brainiacs clarified for me -- in a week of painful but often funny email exhanges about all this -- that K's analysis does not depend on whether JJRedick or Zoubek or Billy King were at the line. I'll spare you the algebra; suffice to say it came from a classmate who graduated Duke Phi Beta Kappa. It all boils down to this:

Butler's scramble 3% VS Butler's set-up 3% multiplied by Butler OT win%

K thought Butler had a low chance of making a scramble 3; he thought they had a much better chance of making the set-up 3, and great shot in OT.

He played the odds (as he saw them). Fault K for wrongly assessing the odds (or disagree with them), but don't fault him for missing the critical factors. The FT % of the shooter (I was surprised to learn) is actually not one of the critical factors.

greybeard
04-09-2010, 11:00 AM
Had nothing to do with risk taking as such.

Look, the extent to which basketball games are micromanaged by some coaches borders on obscene to me. Many walk out on the floor routinely, way out, not simply to call every "play" that their teams run, but to communicate to players while the play unfolds. WTF? Makes me want to turn the game off, which I frequently do, at least for a while.

My comment was made in reference to one poster who posited that, if K had Z try to make, and if Z had succeeded, there would have been a way for K to micromanage the last 3.8 seconds while insuring that Butler could not have tied.

That method would have required a deliberate foul by Duke. Now, without even trying to follow what the poster was saying, I said to myself, that has to be the worst LOOPHOLE ever created in sport. You win a game by making the last play a deliberate foul? Hey, you can't even do that in football, which I do not even regard as a sport.

K has said that what made this season so smashing for him was the growth of this team, especially its seniors, which by any measure is the story of the year in this sport. Taking everything else away, all the other growth issues, have you seen anyone compete like Lance and Zoubek in what would on most teams be regarded as subordinate rolls. Anybody be more in the game and make more great little and big plays than Jon Scheyer?

Is there anybody on the planet who plays at such high levels of proficiency who competes to the death like Singler and Smith?

And, you want them at the pinnacle of their season, the opportunity for a National Championship, for their coach to tell them that they have to win how? By a deliberate foul? You want Mike K (I'd try to spell his name but you'd guys would just have a good laugh) to do such a thing?

Nope, it had nothing to do with risk. It had everything to do with letting his guys defend, with the odds for them, and let them win the Championship that they had earned, or, if a ref blows an obvious call, loose at on a better look at a still wildly improbable shot, if it goes. That is what the man and the mouse reference was too.

BTW, that coach at Nebraska is not on the same planet, in the same universe, in my mind, as coach K. He would have played the deliberate foul card in a snap. Why do I say that. He pulls just such unseemly moves as a Senator, blocking the process of Senate function by the arcane and cowardly tactic of putting a Senatorial block on matters, in his case, the extension of unemployment insurance as it was about to run out for hundreds of thousands, that surely are entitled to be put to a debate and then a vote.

K and his players came into this world men and he would be damned if he was going to have them and him, at the crowning moment, win like mice.

Reilly
04-09-2010, 11:01 AM
When would a coach actually "gamble" then? When would a coach say... hey if we do option A we have a 20% chance to win... if we do option B we have a 10% chance to win.

You give coaches much too much credit. They go against the odds all the time b/c they don't know what the odds are, or don't know the critical factors to look at. I'm sure there are coaches out there who think, stupidly, like Mike Greenberg of espn, that "the worst that could happen is a tie."

A football team down 7 scores as time expires. Many coaches will kick the XP and go to OT -- plays it safe -- but it is against the odds if they believe their 2-pt play would work 51% of the time and their chances in OT are 50/50. Read Halberstam's biography of Belichek, or the espn articles about Ernie Adams (Belichek's prep school friend), who sought out the Rutger's professor Sackrowitz who wrote an academic paper about when to go for 2. Coaches 'go against the odds' all the time b/c they don't know what to look for.

K may have gone against the odds here -- but it would have been b/c he did not evaluate Butler's OT correctly or Butler's relative scrambe/set up 3 correctly. He did analyze the proper, critical factors. "The worse that can happen is a tie" is not one of the proper, critical factors, but it is one that coaches often mistakenly go for, such as in the 2-point constext.

Danke Shane
04-09-2010, 11:12 AM
What do you think Coach K's strategy would have been if Z missed the first FT?

InSpades
04-09-2010, 11:18 AM
You give coaches much too much credit. They go against the odds all the time b/c they don't know what the odds are, or don't know the critical factors to look at. I'm sure there are coaches out there who think, stupidly, like Mike Greenberg of espn, that "the worst that could happen is a tie."


I never said they didn't go against the odds. Heck I've been saying for this entire thread that K went against the odds. All I said was that no coach is going to voluntarily pick the choice with worse odds. In their mind (which may be entirely incorrect) they are always picking the option they think will give them the best chance to win the game. Also I'm pretty sure that every coach in america knows that games can't end in ties :).



And, you want them at the pinnacle of their season, the opportunity for a National Championship, for their coach to tell them that they have to win how? By a deliberate foul? You want Mike K (I'd try to spell his name but you'd guys would just have a good laugh) to do such a thing?


Winning a game by deliberately fouling is about as *fiendish* as winning a game by intentionally missing a free throw! How insane is that?! You intentionall score less points?! The insanity of it all... /sarcasm. The notion that any of the options is cowardly is entirely foreign to me. As someone famous once said "you play to win the game!" by whatever methods are legal.

Duncan
04-09-2010, 11:20 AM
this cannot be stressed enough. In K's mind, if you are up 1 or 2 and they hit a miracle 3, you get beat. ALSO, IF YOU ARE UP 3 AND THEY HIT A 3 YOU WILL GET BEAT IN OT. K firmly believed that. I say he was right. So really, his problem was simple: if butler hits a miracle 3, we get beat. So, make it as hard as possible for them to hit one. that is what he did. i face this all the time coaching LL football. I go into every game thinking about if we can win in ot or not (ball is placed on the 10 yd line like high school rules). If we are favored with a size advantage from 10 yds out, i will play for ot late in the game if need be. if i want no part of Ot (especially factoring in the way the game has gone) i will be more risky with the ball late in the 4th if the game is tied. There is another thread about the play you will remember: having Z miss that shot was the biggest call ever. No one is talking about the other side of the coin. Z hits the shot and they run the base line with a well design play they have practiced 1000 times. or even if Z missed by accident:the ball is going to be exactly where they think its going to be. I also say, if that ball bounces a little more to the side and they dont get a handle in the first 2 seconds, everyone is talking about the brilliant call to miss it.

It was brilliant and took a looooooooooot of moxie

bluedevildaddy
04-09-2010, 11:27 AM
"Some Duke classmate brainiacs clarified for me -- in a week of painful but often funny email exhanges about all this -- that K's analysis does not depend on whether JJRedick or Zoubek or Billy King were at the line."

Thanks for the info. Interesting stuff. I agree with K that the 'scramble scenario' is preferred over the 'run the baseline set play' scenario, but it would have taken some real 'onions' to make the same decision if Jon were at the line!

Johnboy
04-09-2010, 11:32 AM
Ah, OK. Well, I certainly agree that the Nebraska championship game was a clear choice of trying to win like a man, rather than backing into something. (and it's also yet another indictment of the ways college football has chosen to decide its championships. such a situation should never have been possible).

But I don't think K was trying to win like a man, rather than back into it. There was no cheap way to win in this situation. I think he just saw the window of opportunity for a victory closing and decided to gamble a bit on his best chance to win the game right then.

We are in perfect agreement, then.

ETA: on a different note, I seem to recall a rule of thumb in basketball that, given the choice, the home team can afford to play to go to overtime, but the road team should try to win in regulation. Coach K considered this a road game (our second of the tournament).

Starter
04-09-2010, 11:39 AM
And, you want them at the pinnacle of their season, the opportunity for a National Championship, for their coach to tell them that they have to win how?

By deliberately missing a basket?

Just playing Devil's Advocate. This men and mice stuff is a little out there. Hitting a free throw to eliminate the chance you're going to lose in regulation and setting up your defense, or fouling intentionally to employ a proven strategy, isn't quite going out with your tail between your legs. I suspect that if Krzyzewski had hit the shot and then fouled intentionally, everyone on this board would be lauding it as a brilliant strategic maneuver. I respect that you're passionate about your opinion, but come on now. You're sort of attempting to paint people who disagree with you as cowards, when the strategy employed nearly proved catastrophic.

Not that I'm saying this -- I'd like to make it clear that I'm not -- but someone could suggest in turn that it's more cowardly to not believe in your team enough to think they could win in overtime if it came to that. I know, I know, he felt out his team and the situation and all that. But it's all in how you look at it.

Johnboy
04-09-2010, 11:46 AM
Just playing Devil's Advocate. This men and mice stuff is a little out there.

Duke once tried the 3 point lead/late foul strategy against NC State. State intentionally missed the second shot, got the rebound, and hit the shot to tie. Duke prevailed in overtime, but I recall thinking at the time that Coach K would probably not try that again. With a three point lead, I think Duke would have played defense straight up and not tried to foul. Who knows with this team, though - our best rebounding team ever.

calltheobvious
04-09-2010, 12:01 PM
I was responding to greybeard's statement that "having walked into the gym as men to win a championship, they were not going out having tried to win like mice. I think it was cool. Your way wouldn't have been." It reminded me of Osborne's decision not to play it safe and tie, but to win or lose "like a man, not a mouse." Not perfectly parallel, but a national title was on the line in both cases.

There's a much stronger case against Osborne's strategy than there is against K's, you just have to go farther back into the game to see it.

Nebraska was down 31-17 in that game. They then scored a touchdown to get to 31-23. If Osborne wanted to play "like a man," he should have already known that he didn't want to play for a tie, in which case he should have gone for two immediately, rather than waiting until the final touchdown to do so.

By waiting until the final touchdown, he left himself with only a win-lose proposition. If he goes for two one touchdown earlier, he has a win-lose-tie proposition in front of him.

greybeard
04-09-2010, 12:17 PM
I do not think you can credit Butler for setting up a play that gave them a good look. It was a flagrant foul.

Listen to K's interview with F. Unfortunately, F kept K from answering when F brought up the-Kyle-got-killed thing but even F did not suggest that it was anything but a flagrant foul. K said he had his defense deployed. Everyone had their man. Howard, who K described but did not single out especially as having played extremely rough throughout the game in a manner that he suggested that the refs wrongly allowed to continue due to subconscious influences throughout the game. K said his cutters were impeded throughout the game. What, Butler found a way to impede that none of the coaches, except the thug from Perdue, who had competed against Duke had? Nope, K was saying politely what Izzo point blank said after Michigan State's loss--the refs cost his team the game. A man's man if there ever was one in the sport, said it as plain as could be. K was softer but if you listen to the interview you will see quite clearly that he did not trust the refs even a little, he softly throughout the interview explained why. Had he had a chance, he would, I believe, made it clear that he was not counting on Kyle getting wiped out, and would have been a tad less forgiving of that play than he was in a comment he made just after the win.

So, no way that Heyward gets that clear a look without a flagrant foul.

One other thing, the rebound off the miss came off clean. What were the chances of that. If the ball bounces higher and a tad farther, as other people have said, Butler gets nothing. The game ends in the foul lane.

Second, even with a clean rebound, time was a wasting. Let us make believe for a second that Howard arrived at the perfect time, that he did not in flagrant-foul fashion clean Kyle's clock by a double forarm shiver, and that he actually set up a perfect screen that Kyle's teammates missed and Heyward came clear in legit fashion. What is the chance that that happens?

Everyone is singing the praises of Butler's coach. Butler's coach put Howard back into the game against Michigan State even after he was exhibiting some very disturbing concussive symptoms. Great coaches should be made of sterner stuff.

Howard goes 0 for 10 in the first half, but on a number of occasions in the first five minutes there were pill ups on Duke's end after a miss that resembled a football field. I don't know if Howard was the guy who was defending Kyle on a play in the final minute when the refs inexplicably made a call against Kyle when his legs were taken out from him--Scheyer made a 3 that didn't count--but I think he was. Howard also drove square into Z's sterum, with Z not leaning not even a little, and the call went against Z. It should have been Howard's fifth. More evidence of the Cinderela factor.

The play that Howard made on Singler at the end has no place in basketball. It could have knocked Singler out, broken his collar bone, etc.

Butler is a nice story. I love Heyward's game, and the defense its exterior players, I forget their names, play. But, their coach teaches over-the-top defense which if Duke or Michigan State or any other major tried would get called all the time. Everybody likes a Cinderella story, but there were no glass slippers in this one. Just a rough and irresponsible play which fit to a T an unattractive quality the kid's coach exhibited on the biggest stage in the game. The kid at least was acting in the moment; the coach, and his defensive strategy that stretched the rules, not so much.

rsvman
04-09-2010, 12:31 PM
...I still want to take a look at how many times, during the season, Brian made the second of two FT attempts after making the first. I am curious what the probability was that Brian would make that second FT on Monday night when he stepped to the line! If any of you brainiacs have that answer, please pass it along!

Not sure I qualify as a brainiac, but I think I can answer your question.

If Brian is a 55% free-throw shooter, then before he shoots the first free-throw, the chances that he will make both of them is 0.55 X 0.55, which is 29.75%, or approximately 30%.

HOWEVER, once he has already MADE the first free throw, the chance that he will make the second one is 55%, because the outcome of the first free throw is already known.


It's like tossing coins. There is a 50% chance you will throw heads on any one throw. The chance of throwing two heads in a row, however, is 50% of 50%, or 25%. Having already thrown one head, though, the chance the second throw will be heads is 50%.

diablesseblu
04-09-2010, 12:44 PM
Excellent post. You managed to describe perfectly what I've been thinking but have been unable to articulate.

I did not watch the Butler-MSU game so was unclear what was bugging Izzo in the post game press conference. It didn't take me long on Monday night to figure it out.

ACCBBallFan
04-09-2010, 12:47 PM
Yes, or more precisely

Before the first FT had made 41/76 = 53.95%, rounds to 54%

After making the first 42/77 = 54.55%, rounds to 55%.

So effectively about 54% on each, but very slightly higher chance on second one, still 29.4% when you cross multiply.

Reilly
04-09-2010, 01:03 PM
I never said they didn't go against the odds. Heck I've been saying for this entire thread that K went against the odds. All I said was that no coach is going to voluntarily pick the choice with worse odds. In their mind (which may be entirely incorrect) they are always picking the option they think will give them the best chance to win the game. Also I'm pretty sure that every coach in america knows that games can't end in ties :).


K knew the critical factors, assessed them, and went *with* the odds (based on his assessment of the individual factors).

You know the critical factors, assessed them differently, and would have chosen a different strategy, but you still would have gone *with* the odds (based on your assessment of the individual factors).

Some (including coaches) do not know the factors or how the factors play together -- like Mike Greenberg. They believe the end of game decision is win or tie at worst, and do not factor in OT percentage success multiplied by another end of game situation strategy .... but if you ask the coach the discrete questions, including chance of winning in OT, and do the proper math, the coach should come up with a different strategy based on his individual answers. Read Sackrowitz and Ernie Adams -- the coaches are not considering things they should be considering. There are blind spots.

jafarr1
04-09-2010, 01:22 PM
Not sure I qualify as a brainiac, but I think I can answer your question.

If Brian is a 55% free-throw shooter, then before he shoots the first free-throw, the chances that he will make both of them is 0.55 X 0.55, which is 29.75%, or approximately 30%.

HOWEVER, once he has already MADE the first free throw, the chance that he will make the second one is 55%, because the outcome of the first free throw is already known.


It's like tossing coins. There is a 50% chance you will throw heads on any one throw. The chance of throwing two heads in a row, however, is 50% of 50%, or 25%. Having already thrown one head, though, the chance the second throw will be heads is 50%.

Actually, that's only true if the two FTs are truly independent events.

Some FT shooters have less or more confidence in their second FT depending on the result of their first. Brian might have a tendency to make the second FT more frequently after making the first, which could bump up the chances of making that second FT.

(Then, of course, you couldn't adjust for the fact that Brian was shooting a second FT to try to help seal a National Championship, which has never happened before, and therefore we have no data.)

BD80
04-09-2010, 01:35 PM
There is still flesh on this long since departed equine?

rsvman
04-09-2010, 02:11 PM
Actually, that's only true if the two FTs are truly independent events....
This is certainly true. Since we don't currently have any data concerning his second-free-throw-after-made-free-throw shooting percentage, I went with the data available to us, but you're absolutely correct that the calculation assumes independence.

greybeard
04-09-2010, 02:15 PM
Just playing Devil's Advocate. This men and mice stuff is a little out there. Hitting a free throw to eliminate the chance you're going to lose in regulation and setting up your defense, or fouling intentionally to employ a proven strategy, isn't quite going out with your tail between your legs. I suspect that if Krzyzewski had hit the shot and then fouled intentionally, everyone on this board would be lauding it as a brilliant strategic maneuver. I respect that you're passionate about your opinion, but come on now. You're sort of attempting to paint people who disagree with you as cowards, when the strategy employed nearly proved catastrophic.

Not that I'm saying this -- I'd like to make it clear that I'm not -- but someone could suggest in turn that it's more cowardly to not believe in your team enough to think they could win in overtime if it came to that. I know, I know, he felt out his team and the situation and all that. But it's all in how you look at it.

I can live with your first point, although for me personally, and this is just me, a Championship won on a last-play deliberate foul by Duke would have been tainted, tainted so much that I would have taken no joy in it. I root for Duke; have for years although did not go there. Given the Duke hate out there, you do the math. I think "mice" is the nicest thing you'd have gotten from the talking Heads.

From K's perspective a lose off a make after Brian missed was not catistrophic; he was more than willing to live with that remote possibility. As I see it, a loss on a hope and a prayer play, even one that miraculously gets set up by a flagrant foul that "never gets called," was not in the universe of catastrophic. It is the luck of the game, a game my team, if I am K, had won. Luck took it from them or I did; either way my kids did NOTHING TO HAVE DEFEAT SNATCHED FROM THE JAWS OF VICTORY.

If Brian tries to make, under any scenario of a Duke loss we are, in my view, talking "catastrophic." The press would have a field day resurrecting the Duke hate that infused their misjudgments going into the tournament; they would have said that Duke got a pass into the final four and blew it because their players . . . . (you fill in the blanks).

Why in the world put the latter possibility on the table, when you can have your team with the lead and the only way they can loose is by lady luck and a "stupid" coach? The coach wasn't stupid, the percentages were all with K, he chose where to make a stand, and his team emerged CHAMPIONS. If they didn't, you get to say HE was stupid. Frankly, I don't think he could give a damn about how many people called him stupid. His kids amazing season, amazing accomplishments, remained intact.

You don't through the deed to the family home into the pot, especially when you can play with house money and only loose if lady luck pulls out a miracle, with more than a little help from the refs.

You bet the house and loose, you are neither the man nor the coach that we all know K is. Your assessment of the choices and their consequences falls of their own weight.

As for "not believing in your team," what are you talking about? K had his team deployed to defend against exactly what he invited--a last second shot to decide it. On the other hand, forget all the stuff that K said caused him to decide that OT was not an option, the refs, the fouls, the home-town court and crowd, etc, and forget also that we can objectively say, although K didn't, that, while Duke was ahead the entire second half, it was gassed--had gotten at least four looks that could have ended it in the last two minutes but did not make one, forgetting all that, "WE CAN AT LEAST ALL AGREE THAT LADY LUCK WAS GOING TO DECIDE THIS THING, MAYBE WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM THE REFS, EITHER WHEN K CHOSE OR LATER, WHEN HE FELT THE ODDS WERE NOT SO GOOD.

How is that not believing in your team?

As for the deliberate foul business, if you think that that is the way a national championship should be decided, if that is the way that you if you were a coach would have asked your warriers to have it decided, it is a free country. I think that that play is an unfortunate off shoot of the three point shot, which I do not think has added anything to the game. Unfortunate because I don't know of another game in which such a thing can happen. Before you come up with one, I hate that play too.

mike88
04-09-2010, 03:51 PM
This is certainly true. Since we don't currently have any data concerning his second-free-throw-after-made-free-throw shooting percentage, I went with the data available to us, but you're absolutely correct that the calculation assumes independence.

IIRC, this issue has been examined as part of the debate about whether hot streaks are real in basketball. I will try to dig up the reference, but I am pretty sure that the conclusion was that free throws were independent (ie the chance of making or missing the second did not depend on making or missing the first)

calltheobvious
04-09-2010, 04:14 PM
IIRC, this issue has been examined as part of the debate about whether hot streaks are real in basketball. I will try to dig up the reference, but I am pretty sure that the conclusion was that free throws were independent (ie the chance of making or missing the second did not depend on making or missing the first)

I think Tversky wrote that one up.

Related to the probability of a make, Z's ft% as a starter was over
70 according to a recent post at Basketball Prospectus, iirc.