Our basketball analyst "Coach" John Fidler discusses strategy during BC's 81-54 loss to Notre Dame
In the Coach's Corner segments, I try to get into some of the nuances of the game and hopefully bring my experience coaching basketball to the table. We may only look at one aspect of the game as opposed to picking off the game in totality, but I am trying to provide some insight and give you something to look for as you watch the Eagles play.
Thursday night's game, clearly was no thing of beauty. I thought that Coach Jim Christian was very honest in his appraisal of his team's efforts, or lack thereof. It was the first time all year that I've heard Christian critical of effort and leadership and in this case, it seemed well deserved.
BC came out aggressive at both ends of the floor as we've seen more than a few times this year, but the consistent effort and execution on the defensive end and the lack of consistent shooting and interior scoring presence continues to show itself as the Eagles were ultimately run out of Conte.
The collapse was pretty complete and all encompassing. Sloppy ball handling, porous defense, poor shooting and a definite drop in effort that we haven't seen to that level, year to date.
When Dennis Clifford took a feed from Eli Carter at the 15:36 mark, the Eagles were up 9-4. Carter looked sharp and BC looked engaged.
But if there is anything Notre Dame can do, it's score and it was inevitable with the shooters they can surround solid post scorers in Zach Auguste and Bonzie Colson, runs would come.
The Irish then went on a 12-0 run from 15:01 to 12:25 to go from a five point deficit to a 7 point lead and would never be seriously threatened again.
So where was the timeout?
We always believed that if an opponent goes on a 6-0 run, an automatic timeout is called. As we changed our philosophy offensively and became more of a fast break team, the number of possessions went up, that number moved up oh so slightly to 7-0.
Runs of 6-0 or more in a game are minimal in almost all contests. On Thursday night, five such runs occurred, the just mentioned 12-0 run, then a 9-0 ND run from 10:39 to 5:39 in the first half, a 6-0 BC run (5:22 to 4:30 first half), 6-0 ND (1:33 to 0:13 first half) and then just one run in the second half, another Irish 7-0 run from 18:45 to 15:43.
If we look at 7-0 as opposed to 6-0, there were only three of these runs the entire game. The other two both included BC time outs during the runs, all except the 12-0 one.
It is easy to understand what Christian was trying to do. The automatic TV time out at the first whistle under the 12 minute mark was in his sights (there are automatic timeouts at the first whistle under 16, 12, 8 and 4 minutes of each half) and he wanted to wait it out.
Starting this year, teams get only four timeouts per game. They can carry three into the second half and have the one use it or lose it timeout for the first half.
Coaches value timeouts like gold. We used to joke that if we didn't use all our timeouts on a given night, we could call them anytime we needed it (usually that revolved around having too many post game drinks!).
In this case though, you have to ask what was he waiting for?
Timeouts serve multiple purposes. We know that college basketball is a game of momentum, timeouts can break momentum, they allow coaches to communicate to and settle down their teams, they take the energy out of a wild crowd. Does it always work? Of course not, but more often than not, it does what it is designed to do.
Now I am not saying that BC would have beaten Notre Dame if that timeout was called, but the 12-0 run was something the Eagles never overcame.
If the rule was followed, a timeout would have been called at 13:34 after a Colson layup gave ND a 11-9 lead. The Irish would tack on five more points prior to reaching the under 12 timeout with 11:50 left and BC down 16-9.
When you are young and clearly less talented than your opponent, those timeouts can be valuable weapons to keep a team in a game as long as you can. I know coaches would ideally like to keep them in their pocket to use at the end of the game, but they aren't of much value down 28 and I will tell you that saving them never actually helped if you had too many cocktails after a game either.
Keep an eye on 6-0, 7-0 runs moving forward and see the how different coaches handle those situations, trying to balance the score with the television timeouts and their own stash of timeouts.