The three-point lead debate

I contend to this day that I’m a better basketball mind than Tim Miles, even though he’s parlayed his personality into the world of big-time basketball. When Miles was at NDSU, we had a couple of debates on the three-point lead that almost ended in golf clubs over the head.

The issue is this: when the team is on defense in the final five seconds of a game and holding a three-point lead, I say foul and put the other team to the free throw line. Miles disagreed. He may well have seen the light and changed his philosophy, but my point is college players are just so good at the 3-point shot that I’d rather take my chances and put them at the line, force them to make the first free throw, intentionally miss the second, grab the offensive rebound and score.

Case in point came Thursday night in the NDSU and IPFW women’s basketball game. In the final five seconds of the first overtime, the Bison held a three-point lead with the Mastodons having the ball. IPFW got not only one good look at a 3-pointer but two. Amanda Hyde sank the second attempt, the teams went to the second overtime and IPFW eventually won. In fairness, NDSU was out of time outs and couldn’t plot any defensive strategy, but that’s a play that has to be worked on before it happens.

Tim Miles is wrong. I am right. I know this.

10 thoughts on “The three-point lead debate

  1. I agree with you, however, what is the amount of time on the clock when you decide whether to foul or not? 5 seconds? 10 seconds? As you aptly stated, this needs to be worked on in advance, however, a “time limit” needs to be determined so you can teach the players when or when not to foul.

  2. At the end of the day isn’t it ridiculous that it is so widely accepted that intentionally breaking the rules is the best strategy when trailing at the end of a game? Other sports have eliminated that phenomenon (10 second runoff in football, awarding a goal if a penalty occurs when a player has an empty net in hockey, etc)

    Why not change to a system like this:

    Every shooting foul/foul in the bonus, regardless of the time in the game, should result in one point with the fouled player getting two or three free throws based on where the foul occurred.

    This would add some integrity to the end of basketball games and eliminate the marathon final minute that alienates some basketball skeptics.

    My two cents.

  3. I am assuming you are talking about the offense inbounding the ball with 5 seconds left. If the clock is running left them have the layup. If it is an inbounds play fouling is the best option provided you still have your best rebounder available for the missed free throw that is coming. If for some reason you are left with a small lineup then guard the heck out of the 3 point shot and give up the easy two point lay up. Your ball with 1 point lead. Now just get the ball in play and game is all but over.

  4. It might be the smartest thing to do. But I hate it. Goes against every competitive urge in the book. Almost feels cowardly. Have faith that you’ve got a better defense and will stop them. If they throw in a contested look or get an O-Board and hit a three, then they earned it.

    In the case of teams that aren’t very good (IE-NDSU women) it probably is the best option to foul, though, simply because if the team isn’t very good I wouldn’t have very much faith in them.

  5. I think Dom should compile a nerd stat of every game ever played where a team was down by 3 on the last possession, and what the outcome was under each possible scenario. Then we would know for sure.

  6. Better question is who is going to be the new Bison women’s BB coach next year. Dehoff is awfull!

  7. I would NEVER intentionally foul with a 3 point lead. Defend without fouling, and overtime is your worst case scenario. By fouling, you are one FT and one long rebound away from giving the other team a chance to win in regulation. How can you purposely bring that scenario into play???

  8. The best strategy is never let your opponent score with the clock stopped, the clock running is your friend when you have the lead. If they make a 3 pointer tip your hat but the % would be in your favor. I think Miles is a very wise man.

  9. with 7 seconds left and a 3 point lead statistically the best chance at winning the game is fouling. Sports Illustrated did a study on this last year and fouling gives you a better chance statistically at winning. If theres 7 seconds left or fewer I would not hesitate to foul EVERY time