Wednesday, February 11, 2009

An example of why you play the game, not the score

If you've not read it yet, there's a story in today's USA Today about Belmont's remarkable come-from-behind win over Campbell last Friday night in which Belmont scored "30 points in the last 3:27, a pace that would have had them post 348 points in a 40-minute game."

With 3:27 remaining, Belmont trailed, 75-57, only to win the game, 87-84.

Rick Byrd (pictured here0 admits there's no magic potion to apply when a team is down, apparently hopelessly, and time is running out on a chance for a comeback.

"Sometimes," the Belmont coach says, "it's just fate. The mentality of the two teams in a situation like that is entirely different. When you've got the lead, you don't want to shoot quickly, and you don't want to foul. You almost have to play conservatively with a big lead. It's a sense of protectionism and conservatism against a sense of urgency. We had nothing to lose."

According to Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg, whose Hokies came back from 18 points down to beat NC State in overtime recently, convincing your players it's possible to comeback -- and having a plan to do so -- is the key.

"You try to paint a picture (for the players) of how you're going to get back in the game," Greenberg says. "You try to show them a scenario where you can get it from 16 to 10, then from 10 to five with four or five minutes to go. Getting stops is the big thing. If you trade baskets, you're not going to come back." [The Hokies held the Wolfpack to one field goal in the final 9:51 of regulation.]

In the Belmont-Campbell game, Campbell certainly had a hand in letting the Bruins back in the game. According to the USA Today story, "Campbell missed 11 of 20 free throws after taking the 18-point lead."

[Here's a detailed description of how Belmont rallied to beat Campbell.]