Great stuff in here from former Ohio State head coach Thad Matta on how he drilled an aversion to fouling into his teams. There was a six-year stretch from 2005 to 2011 in which Matta’s teams finished outside the top 4 in the nation in Free Throw Rate only a single time (they finished 8th). Great stuff in here on how Matta believes off-ball positioning is the key to not fouling.
Matta’s secret to whistle-avoidance goes beyond merely having long, athletic players and telling them not to foul. One of the foundations of his philosophy came from something he heard while serving as an assistant at Butler in the early ’90s, and listening to the Indianapolis radio show of then-Pacers coach Larry Brown. “If you can guard your man when he doesn’t have the ball,” Matta recalls Brown saying, “then it’s 10 times easier to guard him when he gets the ball.” The point being: You avoid fouls and play effective D if you’re in quality position ahead of time, not reacting after your man catches a pass. That kind of preparedness can only be achieved through a combination of effort, mental sharpness and advance scouting.