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Tourney Motivation

   by Bryan Leonard - 03/11/2006

While watching all the tournament games this week, does anything stand out? How about all the upsets? As usual, upsets and surprises dominated the highlights. Duke: Taken to the wire by a (supposedly) tired Miami team. Tennessee? Poof, gone in an upset by South Carolina. Indiana goes through a season rife with crisis after crisis, then upsets Michigan and Wisconsin on consecutive days.

And what has gotten into Wake Forest? The Demon Deacons sleepwalk through the regular season, going 3-13 in the ACC, then stun Florida State and NC State back to back! What's happening is that motivation and recent play are contributing factors. In the past I've written about how it's more important to look at how a team is performing over the last few weeks, rather than the whole season. This gives a much clearer picture of where the team is. Indiana is a good example. The Hoosiers aren't a bad team, they ended the regular season 17-10. They just stumbled in January and early February, losing 7 of 8, before regrouping. What made their situation appear even worse was the controversy surrounding head coach Mike Davis. The appearance was of a team in total chaos and collapse, but notice that they regrouped and won 5 in a row, even upsetting Michigan State late in the regular season.

Another factor to keep up on is motivation. Who wants to be here? Who really cares about playing? Missouri is a great example of a team in turmoil just packing it in, and it wasn't a surprise to see them exit the Big 12 tourney fast, failing to cover in their only game. That makes the Tigers 2-11 SU, 2-10-1 ATS the last 13! Like Indiana, they had a coach leaving the program, but unlike Indiana, Missouri gave up on the season weeks ago.

Motivation is important to bring up this week. Some teams underachieved during the regular season, but now have a second chance in this second season to make amends. Pay just as much attention to this next week, too, because you can identify teams that are delighted to make the NCAA tourney and others that are disappointed to have to settle for an NIT bid. The NIT offers excellent examples of teams that really don't want to be there.

Coaching is another factor to look at. Old timers like John Wooden, Dean Smith and Red Auerbach were masterful at finding ways, day in and day out, to keep teams focused and motivated. Roy Williams, Bill Self, Mark Few and Coach K are current day master motivators, along with Rick Carlisle and Larry Brown of the NBA. Their teams can be beat, but they are rarely outhustled. When examining whether you think a team might be packing in the season or disappointed in an NIT bid, check the head coach of that team. Look at other places that coach has been. Did his teams win? Did they pull upsets regularly? Did they play defense? Did they excel in tournament play, or fall flat too often? Coaching, motivation and interest make major differences in how a team plays on the court and ultimately against the number.



While watching all the tournament games this week, does anything stand out? How about all the upsets? As usual, upsets and surprises dominated the highlights. Duke: Taken to the wire by a (supposedly) tired Miami team. Tennessee? Poof, gone in an upset by South Carolina. Indiana goes through a season rife with crisis after crisis, then upsets Michigan and Wisconsin on consecutive days.

And what has gotten into Wake Forest? The Demon Deacons sleepwalk through the regular season, going 3-13 in the ACC, then stun Florida State and NC State back to back! What's happening is that motivation and recent play are contributing factors. In the past I've written about how it's more important to look at how a team is performing over the last few weeks, rather than the whole season. This gives a much clearer picture of where the team is. Indiana is a good example. The Hoosiers aren't a bad team, they ended the regular season 17-10. They just stumbled in January and early February, losing 7 of 8, before regrouping. What made their situation appear even worse was the controversy surrounding head coach Mike Davis. The appearance was of a team in total chaos and collapse, but notice that they regrouped and won 5 in a row, even upsetting Michigan State late in the regular season.

Another factor to keep up on is motivation. Who wants to be here? Who really cares about playing? Missouri is a great example of a team in turmoil just packing it in, and it wasn't a surprise to see them exit the Big 12 tourney fast, failing to cover in their only game. That makes the Tigers 2-11 SU, 2-10-1 ATS the last 13! Like Indiana, they had a coach leaving the program, but unlike Indiana, Missouri gave up on the season weeks ago.

Motivation is important to bring up this week. Some teams underachieved during the regular season, but now have a second chance in this second season to make amends. Pay just as much attention to this next week, too, because you can identify teams that are delighted to make the NCAA tourney and others that are disappointed to have to settle for an NIT bid. The NIT offers excellent examples of teams that really don't want to be there.

Coaching is another factor to look at. Old timers like John Wooden, Dean Smith and Red Auerbach were masterful at finding ways, day in and day out, to keep teams focused and motivated. Roy Williams, Bill Self, Mark Few and Coach K are current day master motivators, along with Rick Carlisle and Larry Brown of the NBA. Their teams can be beat, but they are rarely outhustled. When examining whether you think a team might be packing in the season or disappointed in an NIT bid, check the head coach of that team. Look at other places that coach has been. Did his teams win? Did they pull upsets regularly? Did they play defense? Did they excel in tournament play, or fall flat too often? Coaching, motivation and interest make major differences in how a team plays on the court and ultimately against the number.



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