There Are No Fair Games on the Road: Combatting Referee Bias with the Trey

  • KU 2pt%




    KU 3pt%


    KU 3pt%effective


    BU 2pt%




    BU 3Pt%


    BU 3pt% effective




    BU 18

    Above are the 2pt% and 3pt% and FT attempts for the KU victory over BU in AFH.

    The numbers show both teams shot similar 3pt% with KU at an effective 3pt% of 50% and BU at an effective 3pt% of 52%.

    KU had 16 3ptas and BU had 23 3ptas.

    2pt% shooting hugely favored KU at 55% for KU and 39% for BU.

    KU had a lot fewer 2ptas than BU: KU 29 and BU 33.

    Refs favored KU with 11 more FTAs, not surprising since this was in AFH.

    First, half BU looked like it might walk away from KU.

    But the second half,when both sides started pounding it inside, all the foul calling went KU’s way.

    So: what did Self do to win this game and/or what did Drew do to lose it?

    Statistically, both teams performed similarly shooting, on the boards, and in TOs.

    Self did not win this game, unless letting another coach beat himself.

    Drew lost it, by beating himself.

    How did he do this?

    Drew coached the game as if he were going to get a fair whistle. He told his guys to pound it inside, which was a very sound strategy, if one were going to get a fair whistle.

    But a wise coach NEVER bets on a fair whistle on the road. NEVER.

    What should Scott have done instead? Three things.

    Shoot 10-15 more 3s. Stay with his 1-3-1 and stretch it to take away all but 30 feet 3ptas by KU. Give KU anything inside it wanted without fouling, unless it was one of KU’s few bad FT shooters.

    Scott’s team shot an effective 50% from trey. It shot 39% from 2. Each shot from two was a terrible waste of a possession. 3>2 Einstein. Shoot the trey, when you are not getting the calls banging inside.

    Except for the zoning, Scott coached an almost Bill Self like game. And like Self, he was doomed by doing so.

    Self has learned slowly but surely that on the road, or even at home when your guys are a step slow, you build a lead with outside shooting. Always. Always. Always. Always.

    Then you defend by tightening it up, lengthening possessions and shortening the game.

    Bill Self now understands that when you are playing the referees on the road, then you shoot threes to build leads, then defend the leads and expose yourself to as little referee risk as possible.

    Scott has copied the old Bill Self.

    Now he has to copy the new one.

    At home, with a game on Monday night, you lengthen your bench the first half, try to hang around by half time, then come out and hang around till the right moment and the shoot the trey to build the lead, even though you have been sucking at the trey so far. You hang around playing inside. You make leads by shooting the trey. And you shoot the trey to make leads even when you aren’t making them. And when the refs are on your side, you stop as soon as you get a little lead and defend the lead and draw fouls.

    The counter intuitive thing all coaches are still struggling with is that the lower your raw trey percentage is the more you want to shoot MORE treys, because the lower the raw percentage gets the higher the probability is that you will begin shooting back to your raw average.

    Further, when ever you are on the road and shooting 33-35% raw, you are shooting around 50-52% effective. If your season average is around 40%, you are completely nuts if you don’t turn your trey ballers shooting 33-35% raw loose to shoot a bunch of treys and shoot back to their average.Why? Because your opponent, free riding on the referee bias at home, is going to be going inside to make inside treys. Your only chance, and it is a very good chance, is to stop all fouling near the bucket on defense, and start shooting treys for all you are worth. Your effective trey percentage and PPP will be so much higher than the home team that is trying unsuccessfully for inside treys you are refusing to give him (i.e., refusing to foul him), that you will build a lead you can then defend.

    On the road, its you against the opponent and the referees.

    At home, it is you and the referees against the opponent.

    There are no fair games.


    Outside treys are one way to counteract the referee bias on the road.

  • @jaybate-1.0 - After two games against Baylor, I have to admit that I’m pretty impressed with Scott Drew. He has played us tight both times, and his zone is pretty darn good. I love the 1-3-1 and it really seemed that it was well coached. I contrast that to what we saw from Baylor’s zones a number of years ago. I think that stemmed from the fact that Drew kept moving between zone and man. No identity. But committing to the zone, I think they have gotten much stronger with it. I was kind of surprised they didn’t trap hard out of it. I was wondering if they’d pop that on us.

    Question, though … what about neutral site?

  • @jaybate-1.0 I dont think I saw one KU set play 4 out 1 in. Not one! Is that something he is only going to do in away games?

  • @HighEliteMajor Speaking of traps, I never saw KU trap either.

  • @HighEliteMajor said:

    @jaybate-1.0 - After two games against Baylor, I have to admit that I’m pretty impressed with Scott Drew. He has played us tight both times, and his zone is pretty darn good. I love the 1-3-1 and it really seemed that it was well coached.

    I was thinking after the first game and certainly after this game, that maybe we’ve underestimated Drew. You can’t deny that he’s helped develop Rico Gathers, and he’s competed with us as much as Iowa State and Texas in recent years. I no longer consider him one of the weaker coaches in the conference.

    As an aside, I’d pin that ribbon on Travis Ford. But after that, I’m not sure. It’s hard to say Trent Johnson, he’s got TCU competing it seems. Tubby?

  • @HighEliteMajor

    I like Drew’s zones. You and I have talked about this on occasion. Zone’s are good defenses when you stretch them to cover the trey in match ups and have some good bigs inside capable of rim protecting. And switching them up some is good if you switch them up in a way not just to create identification problems, but to take away strengths of certain key players on you opponent. I think Drew is good at coaching the 1-3-1, but I thought switching to a 2-3 and 3-2 zones that actually encouraged KU’s strength–trey shooting–was a bad move on his part, even though it cause some recognition problems about where the seams were going to be.

    My enduring criticisms of Drew are threefold.

    1. He frankly usually has had equally, or more physically talented bigs than we have in recent years and he and his staff coach them so poorly that they don’t play anywhere near to their abilities.

    2. He copies the right people–Boeheim and Jud Heathcote for zones, Self on offense, but he doesn’t show much sign of being able to innovate on either. Thus he is always playing behind the curve of development on both ends of the floor each season.

    3. He cannot seem to analyze what the other coach is doing to beat him, much less come up with an adjustment that might remedy it. Self was basically turning it into a FT shooting contest, because it was at home and Self knew the crowd would bend the refs the long things went on. Drew said, sure, let’s turn this into a FT contest. And he started banging it inside right along with Self, because he figured he had the better bigs. Hell, I even got sucked in during the game. I thought Drew was doing the right thing to go inside, and over power our bigs, but it was the wrong approach for three reasons: 1.) 3>2 as we always say; 2.) his guys weren’t going to get a fair shake from the refs in AFH, so they were going to lose the FT shooting contest unless KU just couldn’t hit any; and 3.) Drew’s bigs are never fundamentally sound, so they can’t really perform up to their abilities, when Self finally short benches for a half and has his guys play their best defense. So: to me, Drew is just getting out coached most of the way you can.

    Next, regarding those close scores in the two Baylor games, I am increasingly of the opinion that with Self you have to index the closeness of the score to the placement of the game in a series.

    The first Baylor game was the Wednesday of a Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday 3 in 7 sequence of games. It was on the road, too. Thus, Self was going to do one of his long bench, low possession things the first Baylor game, to preserve energy for following game, plus he was not going to leave it all on the floor for a road win that could be made up in AFH later. Self was going to try to “steal” one in Waco, and he did: 56-55. Self would like to have had a 5 point win there, but as I have said elsewhere, Self is increasingly about winning by 1, not crushing opponents. The score 56-55 was exactly the way he wanted to “steal” one there, so that he would be ready for the third game in the series. So: tight score says less about how good Drew is and more about how good Self is at scripting these games in series.

    This second game with Baylor in AFH is a different deal, because it is a 2 game in 3 day series with the back end on the road against WVU–a physical team that we have the talent to beat, even on the road, if we have enough energy to handle their press and their size. Self looked at this Baylor game and said, "Well, I already stole a win in Waco, so I don’t have to leave every thing on the floor to get a home W. I’ve got the crowd and the refs on my side. I’ve got a not to bright coach for an opponent. But he’s got a lot of talented, but not very sound players. Got to take them seriously, but the bottom line is that if we could beat Baylor here AND steal one in Morgantown, we would practically ice an 11th conference title. And since anyone, especially Frank, could get injured any time, and I’ve got a chance to pretty much ice this thing if I just gamble a little with long benching in Lawrence, well, then we could have enough energy to steal one in Morgantown and then if some one gets hurt down the stretch, I can still find a way to bailing wire the team through to the title. So Self long benches the first half and it takes balls of steel, because Baylor has better bigs and some decent players and jumps out to a significant lead. But Self bides his time and closes the first half to within 5 and then comes out neutrally balanced the first five minutes to see what Scott is going to throw at him. Scott says I am going to give you some different zones to look at, not M2m. Scott also says I am going to try to bang inside and over power your bigs and win it at the FT line, just like you are going to do. So: Self grins like a Cheshire cat. He goes if the kid is willing to try to beat KU and the referees, then all I have to do is shop for moment from ten to go to have Oubre and Greene build me a little lead from three, and then we’ll let the refs do the heavy lifting for us from there on out. And so the score looks like it was close again, but except for about 10-12 minutes down the stretch of the second half, KU is NOT leaving it all out on the court. And things broke so well that Self was able to play and win with Lucas and let Big Red Dog basically rest up his sore sternum and gimpy knees for Morgantown.

    What I am trying to say is that Drew may less be driving the tight scores than Self trying to win sets of games.

  • @Lulufulu and @HighEliteMajor and @approxinfinity

    Regarding the absence of traps, that was clearly an energy saving device for the WVU game on Monday.

    Self thought he could win this thing with long benching and no trapping. In other words, he thought he could win the game with KU and the refs beating Baylor at the FT line. Had things not gone according to plan the last ten minutes, I suspect we would have seen the trapping. As it was, Self’s strategy was to play them even at everything but FTs and FG% defense and beat them those two places and win the game with a minimum expenditure of energy.

    His team is going to have to play all 90 feet for quite a bit of the time against Huggie. Got to keep the tank as full as possible.

    If KU had not had to face WVU, I suspect KU could have beaten Baylor by 20 with a total effort.

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