After a 69-53 home win against UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 17, senior forward David Samuels mentioned that head coach Dan Monson used every game’s point spread as a tactic for motivating the team.
The point spread the number of points that a team is favored to win or lose by in each game. For example, if a team is favored to win by four points, then they must win by at least four points to cover the spread. If a team is favored to lose by four points, it then must win or lose by three to cover.
If a team is an underdog, then people are likely betting on them to lose, which was the case for the 49ers against Santa Barbara.
“[Monson] lets us know what other people think,” Samuels said. “If we’re going to win up 2, 3, 4 [points] or lose by 2, 3, 4 [points]. He let us know they had us losing by four [points]. We’re just trying to prove people wrong, man.”
Monson was taken aback when asked after Monday’s practice about giving the team the point spread for motivation.
“What point spread?” Monson said. “I mention that maybe once a year. I think I told them that one time. That’s not something we use.”
When pressed on the subject, Monson decided to call over Samuels and have him clarify what he said. Monson asked Samuels when the last time the point spread had been mentioned was, to which Samuels was unable to remember.
“Does that sound like every game?” Monson said.
Samuels remained adamant about his coach’s strategy. After Monday’s practice, Samuels said Monson had told the team the point spread at least three times this season. He then turned to his teammates to help back up his claim.
“Hasn’t coach given us the spread for the game a few times this year?” Samuels asked senior point guard Mike Caffey, who responded with a blank expression and a firm “No.”
Monson and Samuels’ teammates ended up getting a nice laugh out of the whole thing.
Monson said the last time he gave the team the point spread was in the 2013-14 season at Nevada. He said he has done it once this year, but that he also told the team two other coaches said they were going to lose at Irvine on Jan. 8.
“Last year [against Nevada], I told them it was a betting town,” Monson said. “These people do this for a living. They say you’re going to lose by two. Who’s going to prove them wrong?”
Although Monson downplayed the amount of time he tells the team the point spread before each game, he didn’t deny its significance or importance.
The 49ers are playing their best basketball of the season. They are 7-1 since the start of January, and their 6-1 record in conference shows they are only getting better as they get deeper into league play