30 second time outs

Monday, February 28, 2005

Advantage/Disadvantage Fallacy

The concept of Advantage/Disadvantage is a fallacy. It puts officials in the business of predicting the future. What may not seem like an advantage this millisecond, just may be in the next second. An advantage as the offensive player could be completely gone in the time lost by the littlest of bumps.

When the dribbler is fouled by a handcheck and an official CHOOSES not to call it, when the dribbler pushes off one dribble later to combat the handcheck, should the official call that one? Unfortunately, they often do. I've had an official tell me that if the dribbler had lost posession he would have called it. So now we'd be rewarded if we were WORSE and lost control. Then we'd have a foul called, shoot free throws, or maintain posession and be a foul closer to the bonus with one more foul on that particular defender - who may have to lessen his defensive pressure the next time. Advantage or disadvantage?

In the final minutes of yesterdays Kansas/Ok State game Kansas clearly pushed off on a rebound, causing the ball to go off of
OK State. Rather than calling the foul, the officials passed on the foul by Kansas and instead awarded the ball to OK State. This has become too a common occurence. Now everyone is happy. Right? "C'mon coach, you got the ball!", they'll say. Well, in this instance the outside official came running in to "get it right" and indicated the ball was off of hte OK State rebounder. Oops, now what. The 1st official can't go backwards and say that there was a foul. Who got the advantage? Disadvantage?

Mark Cuban writes on the topic that the "...guideline is that if the incidental contact doesn’t impact or impede the “Speed, Balance, Quickness or Rhythm” of the offensive player, then a foul will not be called. The logic of the guideline makes absolutely perfect sense. An offensive player may still have an advantage, even after the contact, and shouldn’t be penalized for the defensive contact. The league doesn’t want to blow the whistle stopping a layup over a little bump.

On the surface that is all well and good, and as I said makes perfect sense. HOWEVER, the concept of advantage is based only on the relationship between a single defender and the offensive player. If we were talking about a 1 on 1 tournament, the logic would hold up well. We aren’t. In the NBA today, advantage is gained and lost as a team.

Using the same example, if I beat my man off the dribble and have half a step on him and he has his arm on my stomach slowing me down just a tiny, tiny bit, I still have him beat. But in this era of help defense and zone defense, that tiny, tiny bit of time I was slowed or pushed a tiny bit off course might not have impacted my ability to get by my defender, but it may have given a weak side help defender just enough time to get in position to defend or impact me in some way....

...It also may have created enough time for a guard at the foul line to (drop) back in front of a teammate standing in front of the basket while that teammates defender jumped over to challenge my shot. My advantage as the offensive player could be completely gone in the time lost by the littlest of bumps....

...By making any such contact a foul, you completely remove the officials from having to make judgements about whether the offensive player or his team has an advantage. It’s an automatic foul. You open up lanes and you speed up action to the basket....

...guys push, pull, bump, slap just enough to put the pressure on the officials to make a call, knowing they will rarely call touch fouls. All creating just enough time for a helpside defender to come in, or for a defender to get through a pick, or for a shot blocker to get in the lane…Brilliant coaching. Take advantage of the rules as enforced"

read the rest of Cuban's thoughts on the topic at BlogMaverick

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