A hot topic after back-to-back losses is whether a player should sit after committing two fouls in a first half. Brad Underwood benched Ayo Dosunmu, Trent Frazier and Da’Monte Williams for long stretches of the Iowa and Maryland first halves because each had committed a second foul.
It’s not, by any means, the first time this Second Foul Rule has been hemmed-n-hawed among Illini observers.
Illini basketball has vast experience with the stodgy & inflexible. His name is Bruce Weber, and he’s notoriously hidebound in his approach to game management. The Second Foul Rule is a glaring example, and last March it cost him his second-best and probably last chance at a national title. Chester Frazier abandoned ship after watching Weber coach himself out of the NCAA tournament, losing to 13th-seed Irvine.
Weber needlessly sat first-team all-Big 12 guard Barry Brown for the rest of the first half after he picked up his second foul less than six minutes into the game. – Jeff Eisenberghttps://sports.yahoo.com/how-a-misguided-decision-its-coach-contributed-to-kansas-states-early-exit-223753384.html
Barry Brown finished that game with two fouls, as did Demetri McCamey on March 1, 2011. In that game, Illinois led Purdue by 13 in the first half. Then McCamey picked up his second foul.
(While searching for these quotes, I found a classic example of Bruce Weber backhanded compliment concerning his best player/favorite target: “He’s grown up a lot. He’s learned how to play, he’s learned how to read defenses, all the things we’ve fought with him about over the years.”)
without McCamey, who was on his way to what might have been one of his best games of the year, the feeling changed instantly. -Mark Tupperhttps://herald-review.com/blogs/mark_tupper/a-tough-loss-but-renewed-hope/article_4bb85b30-ac3b-5fb0-ba5d-2895340c8f19.html
With McCamey on the bench, Illinois (8-9 in the Big Ten, 18-12 overall) went scoreless for more than four minutes, plenty of time for the Boilermakers (14-3, 25-5) to seize momentum in front of 14,123 fans. – Stu Durandohttps://www.stltoday.com/sports/college/illini/illini-start-fast-then-stumble-at-purdue/article_99ebb23a-f47e-5f33-8663-27db9a597b01.html
That 31-18 lead devolved to a 37-37 tie at halftime. Everyone wrote about McCamey’s benching, including me. I wrote about it again two years ago. I’m sort of obsessed with that game as a prime example of Bruce Weber’s inflexibility, and failure to learn from his mistakes.
I also like to point out, at every available opportunity, that Brad Underwood is the anti-Weber.
This week, he addressed the Second Foul Rule twice. I asked in the pre-game press conference, and Brad Sturdy asked in the postgame. Here’s a mashup of those moments.
In short, yes. He will generally pull a player after a second foul in the first half.
But yes, he analyzes each situation and adjusts:
I do that a lot. I think the situation determines that.
I would prefer to have guys have more opportunities to stay aggressive in the second half. Yet that doesn’t always work.
If you feel like a game’s slipping and you need that guy … if you feel like you’re not getting quite the performance you need from the guy that replaced him, you may go back (to the pulled player).
I try to do that in very short stints when I put a guy back in (so) as to not let them get fatigued and commit a lazy foul. Not necessarily have them in there where the opponent can isolate a situation to try and pick up a third. I know we look to try to do that sometimes, depending on the situation.
My main premise for it is to be able to have the three fouls going into the second half, and then and be able to stay aggressive when you play in the second half and the game comes down to the end.
So that’s that’s why I do that. It’s not a everytime deal. But it’s completely based on the flow of the game from that aspect.-Brad Underwood
So, maybe Underwood isn’t making the split-second decision you want. Maybe he’s not second-guessing himself at the times you’d like. But at least he’s always thinking about whether he can improve and adjust his strategy.
That’s what we want, yes?