Tubby Smith isn't the only coach contemplating ways to help relax players while drawing out their competitive fire. Kentucky coach John Calipari used a game of dodgeball (players vs. staff) heading into a recent game against Vanderbilt, which Kentucky won 74-70. "We're not competing at the level we need to. We don't have the fight in us yet," Calipari said in a video on his website.
"Part of that is the anxiety of being a little bit tentative. So we played dodgeball. Dodgeball. So when they were done, I said, 'Why don't you go out on the basketball court and have that much fun playing basketball. You're going to have to play hard, you're going to have to compete against the other team -- but go have fun and play ball.' "
Discussion about the design of basketball stanchions persists after a second major injury this season came as a result of a player crashing into the padded supports that extend down from baskets. After Kentucky's Nerlens Noel tore his ACL last week after crashing into a stanchion and Butler's Rotnei Clarke suffered a head injury earlier this season, some brainstorming for changes has begun.
Butler coach Brad Stevens has questioned the design that puts most stanchions in college basketball close to the court. "I don't know that there's an exact answer," Stevens said. "But we saw one of the scarier moments in college basketball in a long time. ... When it involves a guy that's on your team, it especially pulls and tugs at you."
The Big Ten has gained such a reputation for being a slow-paced, low-scoring league that fans have taken to saying the "first to 50" will win. But that's not necessarily true, Mark Bashuk at the Big Lead writes. Going back to 2008, the Big Ten ranks 11th among conferences in winning percentage for the team that first got to 50 points (if they made it that far).
But at the same time, the average points needed to win during that span was the fewest of any conference, at 59. That tells me that Big Ten teams don't score much but that games are closer and more unpredictable than we might appreciate.