Zoo's Views: The predicament of intentional fouls


Zoo's Views: The predicament of intentional fouls

Thursday, March 10, 2011
Posted: 5 p.m.

By Marc Zumoff
CSNPhilly.com Contributor

Its one play, but there are two ways to look at it. And it actually happened twice this week to the 76ers.

The first time was Sunday. Up three points with 9.3 seconds remaining (and a foul to give no less), the Sixers elected not to take a foul. Instead, they relied on what they hoped would be solid defense to deny the Golden State Warriors their obvious intent -- to hit a three-pointer.

Although Monta Ellis knocked down the shot, the Sixers hung in to eventually win in overtime.

Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, another scenario arose. Up three points with 12.4 seconds left, they again elected to rely on their defense and not foul (this time, by the way, they did not have a foul to give). As fate would have it, Kevin Durant would hit a three-pointer to tie the game.

This time, however, the Sixers would lose in overtime.

The debate on whether or not to foul is not merely among fans. This is something that is also hotly debated among NBA cognoscenti as well. Coaches and general managers themselves differ sharply on whether to foul or not to foul in end-of-game situations.

And even among those who believe you should foul, theres the issue of how much time should be left on the clock before even considering it.

Working with a young team, Sixers coach Doug Collins is trying to put his players in the best possible late-game scenarios. Beset by too many weird late game losses this year (e.g. the two four-point plays at Orlando and Durants four-point play early in Wednesdays game) he probably figures his chances are greater by simply playing sound defense and seeing if the other team can make a shot in the closing seconds -- a shot that is typically made 36 percent of the time across the league this year (Durant is actually below average at .348).

When dissecting Wednesdays play, the Sixers failed to switch when Andre Iguodola was picked off while chasing Durant, allowing Durant his look. That said, perhaps the ball pressure on Russell Westbrook, the man who passed to Durant, could have been better.
Westbrook was standing in three-point territory. Getting in his face and chasing him would have helped. And even if he was forced to drive by and go to the hoop for two, it still wouldve left the Sixers up one.

Actually, if the Sixers had chosen to foul, Westbrook might have been the better choice. As Collins asserted postgame, trying to foul Durant could have put him at the line for three shots or, even worse, he gets fouled in the act of making the three, then setting up the dreaded four-point play.

Fouling Westbrook as soon as he caught the ball, perhaps, would have made more sense, provided it was done before he attempted a shot.

To some hoops aficionados, stopping the game and allowing a team thats trailing the opportunity to score is totally against sound basketball logic. The thinking is to simply play good defense and challenge the other team to essentially defy the odds.

In other words, dont help them.

That said, for those who do advocate intentionally fouling, its important to see how much time is left on the clock. To do so with 12 or nine seconds to play, as was the case with OKC and Golden State respectively, could open the door for a lot to go wrong.

With less time on the clock, however, the margin of error is reduced.

Suppose after OKC had gone to the line -- and presumably, made two free throws -- the Sixers proceeded to miss one or both of their subsequent free throws, or turn the ball over entirely. With less time on the clock, say three or four seconds, there is less time for something to go wrong.

But as I said at the start, there are two ways to see it.
E-mail Marc Zumoff at MarcZumoff@comcast.net

Pelicans' Bryce Dejean-Jones killed after going to wrong apartment

The Associated Press

Pelicans' Bryce Dejean-Jones killed after going to wrong apartment

DALLAS -- New Orleans Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones was fatally shot on his daughter's first birthday after he mistakenly went to the wrong apartment in Dallas.

The man in that apartment shot Dejean-Jones when he began kicking at the bedroom door early Saturday, and the 23-year-old Dejean-Jones collapsed outside on a breezeway. He died at a hospital.

It is legal in Texas for someone to use deadly force to protect themselves from intruders. Authorities didn't immediately respond to The Associated Press' request for comment Sunday on whether the man may face charges.

Dejean-Jones was visiting his girlfriend for his daughter's first birthday and had gone for a walk, according to his agent, Scott W. Nichols. His girlfriend lives on the fourth floor, and Dejean-Jones, who was visiting the complex for the first time, went to the third.

End to End: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?


End to End: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?

Each week, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End this week are Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone, all producers/reporters for CSNPhilly.com.

The question: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?

What Shayne Gostisbehere accomplished in his rookie season was unforgettable. He set Flyers records, broke some NHL rookie records and finished with 17 goals in 64 games.

The list can go on and on. He can become the first Flyer to win the Calder Trophy when the NHL Awards are announced on June 22. We all want to see what "Ghost" can do as an encore.

But now Gostisbehere has expectations. Lofty expectations — fair or not.

Gostisbehere will be expected to quarterback the power play, a job he excelled at this season and wrangled away from Mark Streit, whose injury paved the way for his call-up.

In addition, Gostisbehere will be asked to produce offensively and consistently as well as continue to hone his defensive game, which still has areas that needs improvement.

Seventeen goals will be difficult to duplicate and we should not hold him to — or expect — that number again in his sophomore season. We should all temper our expectations.

But the reason I believe Gostisbehere has the most to lose in 2016-17 is because he's very much still a growing product. There will be growing pains and should he hit those next season, how will he bounce back from it? Defensemen generally develop at a slower pace than forwards, and for Gostisbehere to enjoy so much success in Year 1, how will he react to a step backward in 2016-17? It's a weighted response and one that's geared more toward the long-term, but to me, Gostisbehere has the most to lose next season.

I believe Matt Read will be back next season.
After all, he’s under contract through the 2017-18 campaign.
But his leash will be as short as it’s even been. At 30 years old, he’ll be fighting just to dress. And when he gets playing time, he’ll have to do enough to show he deserves it over other candidates, many of which will be young, spry and hungry for jobs.
Read said he learned a lot last season.
Will he make adjustments and carve out a role in Dave Hakstol’s system?
Next season, we’ll get an answer.
If he doesn’t, his time in Philadelphia could quickly dissolve.
And who knows what that would mean for his NHL career.

Want to talk about having something to lose? How about possibly losing a job, which is a very real possibility for Scott Laughton next season.

The young forward, who will turn 22 on Monday, posted seven goals and 14 assists in a career-high 71 games this season. But much more telling was the fact he found himself in the press box as a healthy scratch down the stretch, as Dave Hakstol felt there were better options as the team completed its improbable run to the playoffs. And that came after he was moved from his natural center position to the wing for the first time since he represented Canada in the world junior tournament.

His inconsistency has come a pretty bad time because as more and more talented prospects come through the system, roster spots with the big club become more and more precious. Laughton will need to have a very good summer and training camp to earn his spot again. The forward prospects will push him during camp, which could be a good thing. But even if Laughton makes the Flyers out of camp when the season starts, the leash could still be short. 

Ron Hextall makes no bones about how he prefers to hold on to young talent and let it develop. But we could be at the point where the Flyers want to see Laughton take the next step. And it could be a much different story if you replace young talent with young talent.

Eagles mailbag: Jordan Matthews, injury concern, leading rusher


Eagles mailbag: Jordan Matthews, injury concern, leading rusher

Another day, another mailbag. 

I hope you're enjoying your Memorial Day Weekend. If you're reading this on the beach or at a BBQ, well done. 

Yesterday, I answered the first round of your questions about Doug Pederson, Brandon Spikes and the possibility of adding another running back. 

Today, I'll answer some more: 

At times, Jordan Matthews will still be in the slot this season. But he won't be there all the time. 

In Doug Pederson's offense, the receivers will move around quite a bit, which means we'll see Matthews lining up out wide on both sides and in the slot. He has the ability to do both. Either way, he's going to be on the field. He's clearly the Eagles' best receiver and they're not going to take him off the field. 

I think there's a good chance we'll see some Josh Huff in the slot this year, which would make a ton of sense to me. Huff is at his best when he gets the ball in his hands and can make something happen. He's shifty enough to play in the middle. 

The idea that slot receivers are just small, shifty guys is outdated. It's all about matchups and Pederson won't be afraid to move his receivers around to find the best ones. 

Good question. I'll give you two names. One on offense and one on defense. 

Now, I didn't just pick the best players, I picked the best players with the biggest drop off to their backups. So on offense, it's Jason Peters and on defense it's Jordan Hicks. 

The scary thing: it wouldn't be shocking if either of these two go down in 2016. 

If Peters goes down, the Eagles will be fine at left tackle, because Lane Johnson will shift over. But that means either Dennis Kelly or Halapoulivaati Vaitai will come in. We all know what's happened in the past when Kelly comes in, and Vaitai is just a rookie. Not a ton of great depth at tackle. 

As for Hicks, we saw what happened to the defense when he went out last season. And this year, the team has virtually no depth at linebacker. If Hicks went down, either veteran special teams player Najee Goode or rookie Joe Walker would need to fill in. Yikes. 

I understand it's kind of a cop-out to just pick the top running back on the depth chart, but that's what I'm doing. I know Ryan Mathews has a lengthy injury history, but I can't see Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood or Kenjon Barner being the team's leading rusher. 

And when healthy, Mathews was the team's best running back in 2015, going for 539 yards on 106 carries, an average of 5.1 yards per attempt. If he manages to play 12 games this year, I think he'll be the team's leading rusher.