Villanova’s 2nd March thru a March Madness Championship really proved once again what I have firmly believed over the years as a player, coach, official, fan, author, Radio-TV Color Anyalyst, Columnist, etc. that basketball players playing basketball can beat outstanding athletes playing basketball.
Villanova is the NCAA version of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs in regards to how they play the game and how they run their organization. Nova recruits the same way the Spurs sign players.
They want good human beings first, Nova wants good students that work to their capacity in the classrooms or higher second, Spurs want smart high IQ players second, they both want basketball players who can play basketball from the shoulders up third and if their athletic OK fourth, while most NCAA and NBA teams do it in complete reverse order.
Athletes first, basketball players second, students/smart players third and human beings fourth and last.
The Wildcats adjusted their game strategies as they beat a 15, 7. 3, 2 and 2-1’s on their voyage through their 6 game win trip.
They played the toughest schedule of any of the final 4 teams or any of the 1 or 2 seeded teams.They blew out 4 teams by averaging 90 points a game and giving up just 61 points for a 29 point margin of victory over NC Ashville, Miami, Iowa and Oklahoma.
In their 2 wins over 1 seed Kansas 64-59 and 1 seed North Carolina 77-74 they won by averaging 70.5 ppg on offense and gave up 66.5 ppg.
Overall for the 6 tournament games they averaged 83.5 ppg to just giving up 62.9 ppg for a 20.6 margin of victory per game.
The Wildcats were able to adjust their game from fast tempo against UNCA, Iowa, Miami and Oklahoma with lot’s of 3’s attempted 44-80 for 55.6% to a much slower tempo with fewer 3’s attempted on 12 for 32 for 37.5% against Kansas and North Carolina. It all depended upon who the opponents were in the tourney.
This is called coaching and coaching basketball players playing basketball regardless of the opponents. It was marked by high IQ play that results in great basketball decisions being made, as they averaged just 8.1 turnovers per game to their opponents 14.2 turnovers per game.
They added great intelligent shot selection as they shot 58.2% from the floor to their 6 opponents 44.7%.
In the 3 department they shot 50% on 56 to 112 to their opponents 36.3% on just 45 for 124.
From the line the Wildcats shot 81.3% on 83 of 102 to their opponents 64.9% on 48 for 74. They shot 28 more foul shots attempts then their opponents.
Nova completely out played and outcoached their opponents in each game by adjusting the tempo to either speed up the number of their offensive possessions or by slowing the tempo down to limit their opponents number of offensive possessions, This is a great example of excellent individual game preparation because of a coach who recruited very coachable players who were more basketball players and less athletic players.
Another proof of this basketball players, playing basketball versus athletes playing basketball is that in this current upcoming NBA Draft in 2 projected drafts of the top 100 players Villanova has one possible at 72 while Kansas has 5 and North Carolina has 3.
It’s a known fact that the NBA teams draft athletes playing basketball first and then basketball players playing basketball second if at all.
The biggest difference between basketball players playing basketball and athletes playing basketball is that the basketball players use their brains first and think before they do, letting the game come to them this is called read, react and do, while athletes use their bodies first and take themselves to the game and this is known as act, react and is aggressive action without thinking much. Basketball players commit fewer turnovers than athletes do.
Also in a great article in the April 11, 2016 edition of Sports Illustrated makes this same point about this comparison. This article is an outstanding feature written by Luke Winn and every basketball coach, player, fan, etc should read this article. The best I have seen about basketball in years.
6’3″ 195lbs. Ryan Arcidiacono Villanova’s senior point guard is certainly a basketball player playing basketball, especially from the shoulders up and not an athlete playing basketball from the shoulders down. He certainly plays the game from the shoulders up and because of his high basketball IQ, which allowed him to make great basketball decisions and to make his teammates better.
His decision to give the ball back to Jenkins on Nova’s last 4.7 play instead of taking the shot as it was designed to have him do just illustrates his great decision making skill to make the right play at the right time under great pressure.
It’s usually harder to create the shot then it is to make the shot.
He was voted the Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four ahead of all the great athletes on the 3 other teams in the final 4.
Here’s two more great examples. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were the best players of their eras and they were basketball players playing basketball. As far as their athletic ability goes, what track events would you put them in to be successful if they were on your track team? Probably give them a clipboard, a rake or a stop watch. As neither were very good leapers and not very quick or athletic.
Nova’s success over a 35-5 season which saw them peak at the right time so they were playing their best basketball from the shoulders up, not from the shoulders down like most of their opponents in the regular season and in all 6 of their March Madness Games. This was outstanding coaching and was the reason why Jay Wright out coached all 6 coaches in the tourney.
This is the first time in many, many seasons that a team of basketball players playing basketball against more athletic teams has won a national championship. Butler made two good back-to-back final four runs several seasons ago, but only could end up being runnersup in the second year.
Now this can improve the game overall for the future if coaches, players, parents, fans, broadcasters, writers, etc. could/would understand that basketball players playing basketball can beat athletes playing basketball at the high school level and even at the college and NBA levels.
But this takes dedication, hard work, players who develop or have excellent basketball IQ’s, develop or have great basketball decision making skills, are fundamentally sound in basketball skills, know positive basketball strategies, are team oriented players and who accept their individual team roles unselfishly.
It’s a lot harder then just throwing out the ball and letting your teams players rely on what athletic skills that they may have especially at the high school level. This is why more teams rely on their players athleticism then they do the basketball ability. It is just so much easier and then when they lose it is easy to give excuses or blame the players, especially at the college level.
It is much easier for college coaches to do this because they can recruit basketball players playing basketball, and all they have to do is polish and improve them. High school coaches have a much tougher job as they have to develop them as they have to go with what is available to them.
However, using basketball players playing basketball against athletes playing basketball is harder to do in the NCAA and NBA because of the shot clock and easier to do in high school without the shot clock because in High School as you can control the tempo of the game by the offense and being very patient without having to shoot in a specified time limit.
But this is what high school coaches who want to be successful and be championship contenders each year have to coach this way if they cannot match up with most of their oponents who have better athletes.
They have to develop these players by coaching them and this takes time, knowleage and hard work on the part of the coaches and the players.
Villanovas’championship could really help the game, especially at the high school and middle school levels if more coaches would coach their teams like Jay Wright has done at Nova over the years.
This team leaves a legacy of proof that if coaches would develop basketball players to play basketball and not rely the easy way of relying on athletes playing basketball, the game would be in much better shape then it is today.
But it all rests on the coaches, do they want to do it the hard way (developing basketball players to play basketball ) or do they want to do it the easy way, having their players just use what level of athleticism that they possess?
Most players, coaches, fans think the game should be played like they see on televison of March Mdness and the NBA and they try to imitate this style of play at the high shool and middle school levels.
I agree they should play what they see on TV but it should be how teams like Villanova and Butler and the San Antonio Spurs play the game not the other teams.
You would think that NBA teams would have figured it by now with how the Spurs have been the most successful franchise ever since Tim Duncan joined them almost 20 years ago. You also would think that all those mid-major NCAA D-1 teams coaches would have figured it out like Villanova and Butler has. But no they haven’t or they don’t want to because it takes way too much hard work to develop basketball players to play basketball and it is so much easier to get athletes and let them play basketball based on the players athletic talent.
But also it maybe that coaches at all levels do not know how to coach and develop basketball players playing basketball from the shoulders up with high Basketball IO’s,to be able to make great basketball decisions and teach fundamentally sound skills and look for these types of players like the Spurs Pop Popovich, the Butler/Celtic’s Brad Stevens, a Hostra/Nova’s Jay Wright and a very few Maine High School Coaches have over the years.
So like the old sayings, “to each his own” or “Different strokes for different folks”. or “what float your boat may not float my boat”.
But, remember that old basketball adage that “a good fast team cannot make a good slow team play faster, but a good slow team can make a good fast team play slower”.