When I moved to Northern Virginia 13 years ago, I quickly realized that one of the great attractions to living in the area was to watch and follow Atlantic Coast Conference basketball.
Then, along came "four corners." Coach Dean Smith apparently decided that his already strong North Carolina team could further cut down the risk of loss by "freezing" victories with the technique of stalling the game for long periods of time, and maintain the lead from free throws awarded as a result of fouls by the chasing team. The really insidious aspect of this technique is that it takes what in effect is a loophole in the rules and subverts it to an entirely different purpose. The provision for unlimited time of possession has been justified on the basis that it allows flexibility in offensive and defensive strategy. It was never intended that it be the strategy as in the case of the "four-corners" stall.
The result has been that much of the excitement has been taken out of ACC basketball as the disease appears to be spreading to other coaches who are impressed by Coach Smith's success.
While this style of play may lock up a few victories and please the most partisan fans, it will surely alienate many more. Further, this tactic will eventually dampen the attractiveness of ACC schools to outstanding high school players being recruited. To watch Phil Ford demonstrate his marvelous offensive skills as a professional makes it all the more incredible and outrageous that he is perhaps best remembered at North Carolina for his play in engineering the stall.
The best solution would seem to be for Coach Smith and his imitators in the ACC to quit selling out and selling short the game, the players and the fans in order to "freeze" a few victories. If they have any eye to posterity, they might be reminded that the perfection of a stall technique is not likely to put anyone in the Basketball Hall of Fame.