Originally written on Pitt Blather  |  Last updated 11/6/14
With more than 15 seconds left, Villanova still had a chance to avoid overtime and grab the win. They were bringing the ball up-court looking to score (or more likely, draw a foul call from King Karl Hess). Ryan Arcidiacono had killed Pitt all game was bringing the ball up court. Pitt’s defense was solid — but just as important — Villanova didn’t do a good job of executing an attempt at a pick-and-roll (click the link, more explanation, pictures and video to explain). Poor spacing, clogged lanes and good defense led to Arcidiacono having no one to dish the ball to. Instead he had to run into Dante Taylor and hope for a foul call — that even Karl Hess couldn’t make at that point. The ball went out of bounds off of Tayler Nova still got the ball back with a little more than 3 seconds left. Villanova called a timeout. Jay Wright diagramed up their play. But before the inbounds play under the basket could happen, Coach Jamie Dixon called a frantic timeout. For many, this was an eye-rolling moment. Yet another micro-managing coach that had to further draw out the final seconds of a game. Too much of a control freak to trust his players. That timeout, however, may have been the difference between the OT win and a buzzer-beater home loss. “Yarou is the first look on that (inbound) play,” Wright said. “I wouldn’t say it is a great thing to throw a bounce pass to a five man out of bounds, but you have to trust your guys to make that play.” Yarou, who finished with 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting, did not miss one of his patented mid-range jumpers from the foul line. He beat Pitt with the shot —open and contested — on five occasions during the game. But with J.J. Moore guarding the ball, Taylor shedding toward the paint with an eye on Yarou — who was set at the top of arc waiting for the whistle so he could move — and Lamar Patterson guarding Arcidiacono on the baseline, Dixon furiously yelled for a timeout, racing almost into the play to call it. “I didn’t want to use the timeout but I didn’t like the setup we had,” said Dixon. “I wanted a big guy on the in-bounder. Having a bigger guy guarding the three (position), I knew it would be difficult to make that pass over the top. We put Talib on the ball and we thought that they would either throw the lob or a screen-and-pop on the top.” Dixon assumed that Yarou would still be the target of the in-bounds pass. Wright came out of the timeout with the same play as previously planned. Zanna was now guarding the in-bounder, Patterson was tightly guarding Yarou, Robinson clamped to Arcidiacono –who tried to spring off of Yarou through an off-ball screen — and Woodall was eyeing both Yarou and guard Darrun Hilliard in the paint. The play resulted with a bounce pass to Yarou, who had it contested by Woodall. He scuffled with several Villanova players for the ball until the horn sounded and overtime came with no shot even attempted. “They played him and he we thought he was open,” Wright said, “but they threw a bounce pass and the point guard stole it from a five man.” That’s just some great reporting by the way. Details of a key point of the game that were otherwise overlooked. The moment where the coaches make moves. Counter moves. In this case, Dixon recognized and made the adjustment. We know what he saw. And stopped it cold. Without it, Pitt possibly goes down. Zanna is still scuffling offensively, and Villanova cements their NCAA bid status.
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