Coaches often cite statistical injustices to indicate their dissatisfaction with the result of a close loss. Sport has taught most supporters that what goes around comes around, so they try to limit their concerns, often utilising statistics to back up their claims after games.
Even persistent complainers, such as Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, prefer to keep their mouths shut. On January 24, Syracuse fell to North Carolina by a razor-thin score at home. Freshman guard Judah Mintz was called for a rare flagrant foul on a charge with 10 seconds left, denying Syracuse possession and a chance for a free shot.
Syracuse got three foul shots in the contest, while UNC received 23. When queried about the disparity at the line after the game, the irascible Boeheim simply said, “It’s unusual.”
There have been 44 games this season in which an ACC club has attempted less than ten free throws, including North Carolina’s trip to Duke and Miami’s battle against Clemson on February 5. Teams who got the short end of the foul shooting stick won less than one-third of the time.
Boeheim’s reaction to the inconsistencies in favour of UNC was calm, although a Syracuse.com writer was less controlled, criticising the biases of the “All Carolina Conference” officiating crew as shown by a succession of “unbalanced, excessive” calls. In less than five minutes, Boeheim abruptly halted his press conference after being asked a question he didn’t like.
Hubert Davis of North Carolina responded similarly restrained after Duke hit 11 of 15 free throws the previous night despite only making 2 of 3 for his team. He didn’t, however, wait for a questioner to bring up the matter.
While looking at a statistics sheet, the second-year coach punctuated his statement with a trumpian distortion, claiming, “We had shot 150 more free throws than any opponent in our league going into the game. We made zero three-pointers in the second half. That’s what I’m seeing.
Davis often emphasised this notion as part of his argument that “I’m only reporting facts.” The primary issue in his argument was that it was untrue. In compared to Wake, who placed second in the ACC, the Heels attempted 543 foul shots, which is much less than Davis said.
While the coach dismissed the notion that his squad had grown too reliant on 3-point shooting at Cameron, it is well known that teams who rely on outside shots commit fewer fouls. In their second straight game against Duke, the Heels attempted 27 field goals from beyond the arc (making 7). They both lost. Carolina has previously won despite shooting a similar number of threes against The Citadel, Ohio State, and Boston College.
Duke is presently the only ACC team to attempt at least 10 free throws in each game, owing to their aggressive offence and solid defense.
Miami and NC State, two of the league’s strongest teams, shared one instance of single-digit foul shots with UNC. Miami beat UNCG in its second game of the season by making all four free throw attempts. In addition, in November, NC State trounced Elon, winning 5 of 6 games.
By the way, the Wolfpack lost despite a shocking 39-12 free throw disadvantage in Chapel Hill.
Following the game, NC State coach Kevin Keatts emphasised his team’s performance and a flagrant foul that sent guard Terquavion Smith to the hospital. According to Keatts, “I’ve never seen a game in which a team attempted 39 free throws. As a result, we must become more assertive. We took 12 and hit 12 of them. So, you know, we get a little more aggressive before possibly seeing a new game. We could go to the location 20 or 25 times before going 20 for 20.