When the rules change…

Is it a stretch to say that Tyler going to the line is part of your gameplan?
“Not at all. That’s it right there. Get it inside and get fouled.”

— Marcus Ginyard, March 14

In the second half against FSU, Carolina returned to the bread-and-butter offensive philosophy it has maintained since the earliest days of Dean Smith’s tenure. Get the ball inside, close to the basket, for a good shot and/or a foul.
Carolina fans recognize the wisdom of this approach. Closer shots tend to be easier shots. Foul shots are supposed to be the easiest of all, and have the added bonus of getting an opponent into foul trouble, which can have a significant impact late in the game as the fouls rack up and opposing players are either disqualified with five fouls or play tentative and ineffective defense to prevent from fouling. This approach is one of the many stark differences between the Carolina philosophy and the philosophy adopted by teams like Duke that place more emphasis on the three point shot. (Jump shooters rarely get fouled)

But what does a team like Carolina do when a significant half of their offensive approach (drawing fouls) is negated by the officials “letting them play”? Despite Carolina’s recent success against Duke and FSU, it is disturbing that Tyler Hansbrough went through a game and a half without a free throw attempt. Did one of the most skilled and most frequently fouled big men in America suddenly stop getting fouled? I find that unlikely. Even so, Carolina found a way to win those games.

The dilemma is: when the refs aren’t calling anything underneath the basket, should Carolina stick with the same old game plan? Or should they start taking more 3 pointers to offset the lack of foul calls?

Anytime that a team makes major changes in it’s offensive identity, there is the potential to lose the flow and rhythm and productivity of their offense. Perhaps more importantly, Carolina (while not without some solid shooters) recruits players with an eye toward their inside-out philosophy, and is not really built to play from the outside in.

Ultimately, we can have confidence that this dilemma gets to be resolved by a Hall of Fame coach, but BBE hopes that we don’t run into any more officials that don’t like to enforce the rules (e.g. George Mason, Duke, etc.).


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