Mark Schmidt has always emphasized the importance of the last five minutes of the first half and the first five minutes of the second half. Nothing captured this attitude better than the Bonnies two-point victory over UMass two years ago. With less than four minutes left in the first half, they trailed by 18 points and had stopped Umass from scoring on only a handful of possessions. But by the break, the lead was down to 10. And by the 15-minute mark of the second half, the game was tied at 50. Recently though, it’s seemed like the Bonnies have completely taken themselves out of games in those same 10 minutes. Let’s dive into that a little more.
During the Bonnies eight-game win streak, their plus/minus during the last five minutes of the first half and first five minutes of the second half was +51. During the past five games? -31. During the first five minutes of the second half alone, their plus/minus has been -21. What’s causing the disparity?
It starts with coaching. Schmidt can’t play defense or make shots for the team, but these segments of a game are really a chess match. Calling timeouts, drawing up plays, and making substitutions to avoid foul trouble, are key to the end of the first half. The sign of a great coach is an ability to adapt at halftime to any teams game plan. Take Archie Miller’s Flyers for example. It was as if you needed at least two game plans to beat him because of how well he could figure out, and adapt to, your original strategy. The halftime adjustments for the Bonnies recently have been nonexistent.
This would be less relevant if they were getting pounded throughout the entire game. And while it might seem like that’s the case, If you isolate their four league losses, their total plus/minus was -41, meaning that the -31 plus/minus during the 10 minute segment at the end and beginning of the halves (Fordham was +0), comprised more than 75% of their total deficit. This does not reflect well on Schmidt.
I think Schmidt has become a better coach since starting in Olean. Since his arrival, the long scoring droughts in close games, like the offensive ineptitude for 12 minutes against ‘Cuse, are much less common. They have also had a knack for the clutch play, hitting numerous game winners and buzzer beaters in his tenure, which I believe is a reflection of a calm coach designing effective plays. The overall quality of the recruiting classes has also steadily improved, and of course, they’ve been winning more.
There are many people to point fingers at for the Bonnies recent struggles. While I’ve thrown a lot of blame on Adams, Mobley, and the rest of the supporting cast, it is only fair to hold Schmidt accountable for his shortcomings. He was thoroughly bullied by the other fantastic coaches in the A-10 (Martelli, McKillop, and Hurley), and now it’s up to him find a way to get the Bonnies back on track.