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Has Foul Trouble Become A Major Problem?


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QUESTION
OF THE DAY
Conrad Brunner


Q. It seems that fouls have played a large part in recent losses. Foul trouble appears to have killed momentum – especially for (Jeff) Foster and (David) Harrison. In the last two losses, the number of front-line players in serious foul trouble (three-plus) at halftime versus opponents appears to tell a tale of disparate calls. Is that the case? Or are the big guys taking the fall for having to come over to help the perimeter players? (From Daniel in Boca Raton, Fla.)


A. So many things have been going wrong lately, it would be misleading single out frontcourt foul trouble as a primary issue, but it has been a contributing factor. It was particularly so last night in Memphis, when both Foster and Harrison were saddled with early fouls that had an impact. It's no coincidence that the Grizzlies put together their game-clinching 10-point run in the third quarter, pushing the lead from 61-49 to 71-49, when Foster was on the bench with four fouls, soon to be joined by Harrison.

With big guys, there are generally two types of fouls: those of commission and those of omission. Foster tends to take fouls of commission, where he often is trying to do too much and sometimes does not use sound judgment. Harrison, on the other hand, takes far too many fouls of omission that result from his not doing something fundamental – moving his feet, boxing out, keeping his hands in the air, etc.

Harrison also has hurt his cause severely by complaining to the officials after seemingly every whistle. Earlier in the season, when it did appear he was occasionally victimized by the officials because of his size and inexperience, he had a legitimate gripe here and there. But he's allowed that to spiral out of control and his inability to control his emotions is getting the better of him. Until he learns to clam up, officials will not be inclined to give Harrison the benefit of the doubt.

Foster has played exceptionally well of late, possibly at the highest overall level of his career. But the team needs more than one effective big man. With Scot Pollard's health an issue, more pressure shifts to Harrison. The team doesn't need him to be a star; it just needs him to be a reliable, consistent player. The rest is up to him.
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