Had Gordon Hayward’s halfcourt heave as time expired gone in, it’s a fair bet we’d be calling Butler’s upset of no. 1 seed Duke for the 2010 national title the greatest finale in collegiate history (in fact, someone wrote just as much). Even with Heyward’s hail mary falling short, some are compelled to go nearly that far, while Under Further Review’s Martin Manley‘s hails Mike Krzyzewski’s ordering Brian Zoubek to intentionally miss his 2nd free throw with 3.6 seconds remaining.
With a two point lead and no time outs remaining for Butler, Coach K opted to intentionally miss the second free throw. The logic is inescapable. Even if Butler gets the rebound (and they did) and even if they get the ball out of the congestion of the lane (which they did), it would require the shot of a player™s lifetime “ heck, the shot of all player™s lifetimes combined “ in order for Duke to lose.
I recently did a post on late game strategy in basketball. The point of it was that when leading by three with just a few seconds to play, you foul! It™s the biggest no-brainer in BB strategy. However, this situation is a little more complex. Consequently, although many coaches have learned to foul when leading by three, few have accepted (when leading by two) intentionally missing the second of two free throws when the opposing team does not have a time out left.
When Coach K ordered the miss, he set himself up to be the goat “ one of the biggest goats of all-time “ if Butler had hit their half court shot for the win. That™s what separates the great coaches from the wanna-bes.
What makes this slightly less obvious as a strategy is only that if he makes the free throw, Duke could still have fouled leading by three. That gets back to the other issue. And, if he had accidentally made the free throw, you can bet your life Coach K would have called for the foul.
Krzyzewski’s denied any interested in a rumored $15 million overture from the Nets, which shouldn’t shock anyone, except perhaps Jeff Van Gundy, whose price tag just went up. . Though Coach K has nothing left to prove in college hoops, after resisting approaches in the past from the Celtics and Lakers, is there any surprise the rich pro basketball history of the Prudential Center proved less than alluring?