Fans watch March Madness for lots of reasons, like big plays down the stretch, highlight film material, or to because they love a particular player or a team. But for the true student of the game, coach or player, the viewing experience is different. We watch for the “thousands of little things” (DeVenzio, 1983) that make up championship teams. We watch people like Zack Novak from Michigan look his teammates in the eye during a dead ball and say something meaningful to them. We watch Sydney Carter from Texas A&M get in someone’s bubble, force them to the manure strip and keep her palms up without reaching. We watch for the love of the game, but also to study it as we appreciate the finer points of the game that go unnoticed to average fans.
Here’s a list of three things to watch for that is packed with links to expand on each concept.
- Shot Selection. Teams that love easy shots score more points, at the end of the game that’s all that counts on paper. Dena says, “If you boil winning and losing down to one thing it would be shot selection”. Good teams avoid first pass shots as a habit and they recognize that no shots are forced but rather chosen.
- Control. Watch for good point guards to display control by alternating the current and avoiding momentum dribbles. From staying poised in the paint to the balance of racing the basketball with control in high pressure situations, control is a crucial thing to watch for as teams separate themselves from the good, the great, and the best.
- Spirit. Championship teams have heart from the way they practice and transition from drill to drill to the way the respond to mistakes in games, you won’t see champion droop after mistakes. They are cheerful, engaged, and always encouraging. Their communication is alive with reminders and you see a lot of eye contact. This one is the most important and enjoyable things to watch for during March Madness.