People often ask Jim Crutchfield to describe his system, and he has nothing to show them. He does not possess any notes, he has never put anything on video, and the only time he spoke at a coaching clinic, it was because he was trying to angle for an exhibition against a nearby Division I team (a game that has yet to be scheduled, and may never be scheduled). Everything he knows about basketball is filed and collated between his graying temples. He is 57 years old, and until he became the head coach at a Division II college in rural West Virginia nine years ago, he was also in charge of the tennis team; he inherited a squad that went 4-23 the year before and graduated most of its starters, and somehow he's molded it into one of the most successful and intriguing programs in the country. These days, he often gazes up at the scoreboard at the end of a game and thinks, How did we put up so many points?
"We didn't play high-risk defense last night, and in the second half we didn't extend to trapping hardly at all," he is telling me. "And yet at the end we still had 95 on the board. We ran the shot clock down in the last few minutes, and we still scored 50 in the second half."