â€œHistorically, even looking back to when Dean Smith coached, UNC has just been a team that doesnâ€™t foul that much,â€™â€™ said John Clougherty, the
That is a statement from the head of the ACC officials not some UNC PR firm. Can someone explain to me how 4 coaches over 53 years are all able to teach hundreds of players how to “not foul”?
In order to try to understand this a little better I looked at the stats.
UNC is called for the 8th fewest fouls in the nation. That means 337 schools are called for more fouls per game than UNC.
So maybe they play passively and thus can avoid foul trouble. Nope, they are ranked number 8 in the country for blocks per game and they are ranked number 3 in the nation for offensive rebounds per game. So in the two most aggressive categories in basketball they rank 8 and 3 but never commit fouls. How is this possible?
Clougherty also said that his officials study teamsâ€™ and playersâ€™ tendencies, so they know what to look for when it comes to fouls. And that they donâ€™t favor anybody
So the refs come into a game with the preconceived notion that UNC does not commit fouls. UNC does not commit fouls because UNC is known not to commit fouls. That is how it is possible. It is a self fulfilling prophecy.
What kind of impact does this bias have on a team that plays UNC?
UNC has played 24 games. In those games they have shot an average of 24.75 free throws per game (leading the nation) and their opponents have shot 13.29 free throws per game. That means at UNC’s 65.4% free throw rate, teams will start the game with a 7 and a 1/2 point deficit.
They have had only one player all year who was disqualified because of fouls. So while other teams need players to step up when foul trouble hits. UNC just plays the same players because they never have to deal with foul trouble.
â€œIâ€™m screaming all the time â€˜Pressure, pressure. Donâ€™t foul, donâ€™t foul. Donâ€™t reach, slide your feet, slide your feet. Itâ€™s the third most thing Iâ€™m yelling,â€™â€™ Williams said. â€œâ€¦ You really have a better chance of getting what you want if you emphasize it the most.”
I should have known. It is just great coaching that allows UNC to avoid fouling, because if you make it your third most emphasized point, it will happen.