Oregon fouled UCLA on purpose last night to avoid giving up a game tying 3. Then this happened:

There is a lot going on here.

The first thing to remember is that after you foul on purpose, and you expect your opponent to miss on purpose, you can violate the free throw lane on purpose. Don’t let them get the rebound. Missing a free throw on purpose a certain way is hard, and eventually (probably pretty quickly) they are going to make the free throw by mistake and you can just get the ball in-bounds and win the game (ask your assistant to intentionally miss shots during a rebounding drill and see how many actually go in). We won 3 different games when I was at Maine where we fouled on purpose and then violated the lane, and our opponent made the next free throw by accident.

Why do you violate the lane? Well watch that video again. First of all, in that situation, the officials stop calling the rules. It’s almost just accepted that the intentional miss is going to be a free-for-all and let’s see what happens. At the top of the key, watch the UCLA player who is just off the shooters left shoulder. He commits a clear violation, running into the lane as soon as the ball is released, and it goes uncalled. He didn’t impact the play, but still, it should have been called and Oregon wins.

Watch the two UCLA players who are actually in the lane. The player on the left side just goes right through his opponent and forces him into the restricted arc, then makes a great effort to keep the ball alive which leads to his teammate getting the rebound and UCLA (eventually) winning the game. Did he go over the back? You decide. But he clearly drove his opponent towards the rim when shot went up.

The UCLA player on the right side goes across the lane and commits a subtle hook-and-hold on his opponent, pulling him out of the play after the ball comes off the rim. He didn’t touch the ball or get the rebound, but he took one Oregon player out of the play, helping his teammate get the rebound.

It’s a judgment call as to whether or not you think those plays are fouls that should have been called. But I would submit this – on a regular free throw at any other point in the game, the whistle blows. There was a clear violation from the top (it’s not the NBA), and three other potential fouls (push in the back, over the back, hook-and-hold) that could have been called. Four justifiable chances to blow the whistle, and there is no whistle.

The intentional miss is a free-for-all. All the more reason to violate.

Why wouldn’t you violate? Well, there is one good reason why Oregon might not want to, and that is the possession arrow. UCLA had the arrow, which means if there are two violations – one on each team – they go to the arrow. This is a rule not a lot of people are aware of. So if you violate the lane first, and then UCLA shoots the ball and misses the rim completely – another violation – UCLA gets the ball on the possession arrow. That’s a problem. However, given everything that can take place there, and the fact that the officials are going to swallow the whistle, is it worth the risk? It is worth considering.

Ask 10 different officials about what they would do if you continually violated the lane and you’ll get 10 different answers. I had this happen once when I was at Rhode Island College and it almost cost us the game. I talked to JD Collins, the national coordinator of officials, a year ago at our league meetings and he said there is really no justification for giving a technical foul. There is a penalty for violating the lane and that is you get awarded another free throw. So that’s how it should be officiated.

The mistake Oregon made is the way they lined up for the free throw. If you are expecting your opponent to miss on purpose, you have to match up with the two offensive players who are outside the 3-point line. Why? Watch the video again and see who gets the rebound. It’s the one player who started outside the 3 who didn’t violate on the way in. You have 5, they have 5. Match up with each one of them and give yourself the best chance to get the rebound. Putting 4 guys in a scrum in the paint might seem like a good idea, until the ball takes a funny bounce.

I’m always going to foul on purpose when up 3 late in a game. It’s the right play. But I’m also going to be ready to violate. We practice it as part of our time and score package. I just don’t see a reason to allow them to miss on purpose when that is their best chance to win the game.

If you don’t have the possession arrow it’s a tough call, but it should be something you are thinking about.

Like I said, UCLA-Oregon had a lot going on.

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