Kentucky at Louisville, Kentucky is up 10 in the last minute of the first half. Louisville has the ball and there’s about a 6-second differential on the clocks, so Kentucky is going to get the ball back.
Louisville misses, and Kentucky gets the rebound and a chance to run. They throw a great hit-ahead pass on the right win to Tyler Herro, who is their best shooter, with about 10 seconds left to play. At the time, Herro is 6-7 from the field. He steps into an in-rhythm 3 that would put Kentucky up 13 as a defender flys at him late to try and contest.
Herro back-rims the 3, and in the transition Louisville gets a run out and a dunk at the other end as the clock expires. Kentucky had a chance to go up 13, but instead they head into the locker room up 8, potentially a 5 point swing.
The cameras went right to John Calipari, who was seen screaming at Herro about taking that shot. Dan Dakich interviewed Cal right after that and asked him about Herro in general, and Cal said he really liked everything “except for that last shot.” In the studio, Seth Greenberg called it an awful shot because you have to know “time, score and situation.”
I like that shot. I like it a lot.
Your best shooter, who is also your leading scorer in the game and has only missed once, steps into a great look at a 3, and you don’t like that shot? Because there are only 10 seconds left and it’s possible that your opponent will get a long rebound and convert at the other end?
Man, I’ve got a hard time with that. I think we all need to think about the way we handle time and score at the end of the 1st half. Once the shot clock is off, it seems like everyone in the arena starts calling for 1 shot, regardless of the situation. I don’t get why, for example, if you are down double-digits that you want to hold for 1 shot. Don’t you want to get the best shot you possibly can?
I’ve always said I wanted to see this stat – what is the points per possession average for teams who slow the game down and hold for 1 shot at the end of the first half against a set defense? How does that number compare to their season average for PPP? So often you see teams take the air out of the ball, hold for 1 shot, set a high ball screen and get forced into a terrible shot at the buzzer. For example, if your team is playing really well on offense, why would you want to slow the possession down and give the other team a chance to load up against what you are good at?
You are better off letting them play. Run good offense and see what you get. If we can get a great look with :10 to play, I think I can trust my defense to try and get one stop on the last possession. I want my team to have the best chance to score possible, and if we have to guard one more time that’s fine.
I understand the idea of holding for one shot, and at times I get it. But I think we go to it automatically, without thinking about it. When my leading score and best shooter steps into a great look at a 3, I feel great about it. It’s the easiest thing in the world to play the result, and get mad at him after he misses.
At the first TV timeout of the 2nd half, Kentucky was up 10. So it seemed like they survived the Louisville basket at the end of the first half.
Common approach is that when the shot clock is off we should hold for one shot. We need to think about that one a little deeper.