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The post-Loyola era also saw a rise in popularity of methodical offenses, sparked by Pete Carril's famous final victory at Princeton—a 43--41 (!) upset of defending champ UCLA in the 1996 NCAA tournament. Hybrids of the Princeton offense spread to schools such as Georgetown, North Carolina State, Vanderbilt and Northwestern. Kentucky's John Calipari has referred to his Dribble Drive Motion offense as "Princeton on steroids," and Bo Ryan's surgical Swing Offense at Wisconsin exhibits Princeton-level patience with more emphasis on post feeds. There's higher awareness in 2012 of the value of each possession, and coaches have been more than willing to sacrifice pace for higher efficiency.
Dale Brown is not fond of this Control Era—"There's too much conservatism among coaches now," he says—and wonders if heightened TV and media exposure have played a role. There is no room anymore for scrutiny-free tinkering, and in an age of one- or two-and-done for elite recruits, there's pressure to get players on the floor immediately, at a speed they can more easily grasp. To run is to give up a degree of control, and to really run, as Loyola did, training like a track team and taking years to perfect the System, is to risk losing games and losing players.
"Plenty of coaches agree in the off-season that they're going to run more next year," Westhead says. "Players' eyes light up, and there's kind of an approving smile on their faces. But between the first day of practice and the first game everyone is over it. Accommodations have been made.
"The running game is too hard for the players.... And if they aren't fully committed to it, it's doomed to fail."
An Impossible Transcript
On Feb. 3, 1990, no one dreaded the speed game more than Debi Polito. She was the play-by-play typist, a fifth-grade teacher who freelanced at LSU games at $20 a pop. As she smoked her final cigarette before tip-off, she was troubled by the fact that Loyola had scored 150 points two days earlier. "I thought, I don't know if I can do this," she told the now-defunct State Times of Baton Rouge, which ran a story about her nightmarish afternoon shortly after the game. "I don't know [if] the return of the typewriter is that quick."
Her concerns were well-founded. At the 3:14 mark of the first half, by which time she had nearly two pages of play-by-play—and that was without notating missed shots, blocks, rebounds or assists—her IBM Selectric went into a state of shock. "All of a sudden the ribbon kind of rose up in the typewriter," Polito told the State Times. "The whole thing froze. It wouldn't go forward. It wouldn't go backward."
Members of LSU's game staff can be seen on the broadcast sprinting off to find a replacement typewriter. When it arrived a few possessions later, Polito did her best to catch up. But the Selectric crisis left the official play-by-play sheet jaggedly formatted up through the point at which "Fryer gets three" —Loyola guard Jeff Fryer's trey cutting LSU's lead to 64--52.
Polito's transcript contained some unintentional comedy—in particular the second-half sequence where "Coach Brown discusses something with officials!!!" is followed directly by "Technical called on Coach Brown"—and despite all that it was missing, it serves as an accurate record of scoring runs. There is the one Jackson and Roberts led into halftime, putting LSU up 72--58. (The combined 130 points at the half are more than were scored in any of the past three entire NCAA title games.) And Kimble ignited a run at the start of the second, cutting the lead to 76--72 in just 106 seconds. The scoring never ceased, and the Tigers found themselves back up by double digits with 4:43 left, at 126--114. But they were far from comfortable.
The play-by-play sheet tells the story of Gathers's game: demoralized on page 1, redeemed on page 5. He never stopped hustling and scored nine points in a rally that helped tie the game at 134 by the end of regulation. Gathers then put up the first four points of overtime. Those were back-to-back buckets over Shaq, who finished with a triple double (20 points, 24 boards, 12 blocks) that was overshadowed by Gathers's response to his early drubbing. The game's most-remembered individual stat was Gathers's final point total: 48.