Good Coaches Don't Win by Running Up the Score

On Tuesday December 12th in Indianapolis, the Bloomington South High School girls' basketball team beat Arlington High School by a score of 107-2. Bloomington South coach Larry Winters insisted that there was no effort to embarrass Arlington or run up the score. Really Coach? Do you know how hard it is to score 100 points in a 32 minute high school basketball game? While I didn’t see the tape of the game, those that truly understand basketball can appreciate the need to play an extremely up-tempo offense fueled by an attacking, opportunistic, and highly aggressive defense to score that many points in a game while limiting your opponent to a measly 2 points. Great sportsmanship coach – your school community and principal must be proud of your decision to beat an inferior opponent into submission.

There is no other way to explain such a lopsided outcome other than Coach Winters using this game as an opportunity to boost his own ego and the egos of his players, which is certainly not needed nor warranted.

Naturally, good coaches should recognize a potential blowout game long before the game becomes a blowout and play kids who normally don’t play or call up younger kids of lesser ability to get a more challenging experience. If that puts the team in a competitive disadvantage, so much the better for the starters to come into the game behind, having to work hard to catch up. If the blowout is a blowout even with the subs starting, at least the subs know they played when the game was still at stake.

There are many ways to not run up the score against a team that is not as talented: running the offense multiple times, not fast-breaking when up more than 20 points, not pressing at the half-court line, staying in a soft zone, working on multiple defenses and offenses, or giving younger or less talented players the opportunity to play.

Coach Winters insisted that he got all of his nine players in the game that night. Are we to believe that Coach Winters was unaware of the inferior skill level of his opponent before the game started? Come on Coach – as a high school coach myself, I know the talent level of every team on our schedule. What a perfect opportunity to call up some players from the JV team and give them Varsity experience that night. But I guess that would have been the actions of a responsible, classy, and honorable coach.

Coach Winters is an embarrassment not only to himself and the school community who is short-sighted enough to employ him, but to the coaching profession itself. Here’s a newsflash for you Coach Winters: Winning games with kids who are physically more mature is more a success of enrollment than coaching. Winning games by developing the talents of weaker players is a better test of a coach’s true abilities.