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Foul. Foul. FOUL!!!

March 21, 2009 - Zach Baker

In the final seconds of the first overtime, with Ohio State leading by three against Siena State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, I found myself screaming at the television.

"FOUL!" I screamed at Ohio State's players.

They didn't, of course (though I apparently thought they could hear me, because I was yelling loud). Instead, Siena's Ronald Moore hit a 3 with less than four seconds left, tying the game. It went to another overtime, where Moore again hit a crucial 3, and Siena won, 74-72.

Coaches usually don't foul have their players foul in those situations, and I really don't understand why. I suppose one argument is a player can shoot a 3, miss badly, and get three shots to tie the game.

Another argument was one I heard from former Heidelberg women's coach Karen McConnell. One time I asked if she considered fouling when her team was up 3 late.

McConnell said she was concerned her team wouldn't get an offensive rebound (the team wasn't especially big that year) and her opponents would have a point-blank attempt to tie, rather than a desperation 3.

Better to take the chance with forcing a long-distance shot, she said.

Maybe that's what happened Friday night. Siena outrebounded Ohio State, 52-37, and had 21 offensive boards.

I didn't know the stat when I was screaming. There have been plenty of times when I have wanted teams to foul late, only to see the shot miss and my team win.

Tonight, however, my theory wins, if only by default. 


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