What does a coach’s record in close games really mean?

Since Christmas break, almost every one of our games has been close. This week, as I jogged to and from the gym on several days, I thought about what close games mean in terms of one’s coaching. A coach’s (team’s) record in close games is cited often to demonstrate that a coach is a good coach. However, a friend never believed in this measure. He argued that there are too many variables in a game to suggest that the coach out-coached his opposing coach in a game under 5 points. Instead, he argued that the best way to evaluate a coach was his or her record in games decided by 5-15 points. According to The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know About Soccer is Wrong, favorites win 80% of games in basketball (using NBA statistics), suggesting that many overweight the importance of in-game coaching on the game’s outcome. […]