Davidson used timeouts late?
by Chris Chase, USA TODAY Sports
Davidson coach Bob McKillop had four timeouts in his pocket when Marquette started its improbable comeback on Thursday.
When the Golden Eagles hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to two with 29 seconds remaining, he didn’t call a timeout.
After Marquette hit another with 10 seconds left to get within one point, he didn’t use one either.
All told, there were five instances in the final 90 seconds of the game where another coach might have called timeout to set up an offense, talk about a defense or calm his players down as they attempted to pull the biggest upset of the NCAA tournament. McKillop passed on them all.
It wasn’t until Davidson threw away the ball, and the game, on an inbounds pass with six seconds left that McKillop finally stopped the clock. By then, it was too late. Marquette took the lead and Davidson was unable to score with one second on the clock. The upset bid was denied.
Twitter had turned against McKillop while Davidson was blowing its lead. Reaction from television analysts was just as swift.
“This is the reason people get fired,” Charles Barkley said after the game, referring to McKillop’s late-game strategy, but not specifically addressing the timeouts.
It’s a fair critique but misses the larger point. If Marquette had missed one of those three-pointers or that pass was thrown with a little less force, Davidson would have advanced and McKillop would be getting praised for the confidence he had in his team. This is a case of waiting for an outcome to evaluate a strategy.
Don’t blame McKillop for the loss. Credit Marquette for the win. Or, if you’re looking for a scapegoat, wonder about that bad pass.
The greatest basketball coach ever would have likely agreed. Red Auerbach used to decry things like taking too many timeouts. “You’ve got to avoid overcoaching,” he told Esquire in 2000. “You’ve got to avoid talking too much.”
McKillop was gambling that his team was prepared for the end game. He was relying on the fact that what his players learned in practice would carry them through Marquette’s furious comeback. It was a … [For more on Should Davidson's coach have used his timeouts earlier?, click here.]