there is something to this. Not necessarily hunger or culture but unconscious fear of failure.
As a player, coach, and teacher I have seen this on all levels, and to attempt to understand it I have done more study, research, and brain picking over a 50 year span than I care to admit.
There is a higher level in sport than just wanting to win or trying hard to win. There has to be talent, naturally, but I do not always see ND talent playing fearlessly. If you ever heard of an athlete who "lost his nerve" you know what I'm talking about. He/she still has all of the shots, speed, moves, whatever, but cannot pull them off in the clutch.
They are not playing in fear of their opponent physically but start second guessing their own performance. They are not playing fearlessly. They have unconsciously lost their nerve. It can happen to individuals, it can happen to teams.
With professional golfers I see it all of the time. Mainly they start trying to play golf score rather than golf. This leads to trying to play golf swing, again instead of golf. They get so mentally muscle bound they have a hard time hitting the ground with their hat. I've got a lot of examples of this happening to players from other sports also.
This syndrome can be overcome by most players with professional guidance. Other players just cannot work through it and have to quit playing and start teaching, or selling carpet or insurance.
I can remember when Darrell Griffith was playing with Louisville and had a hard time even hitting the structure with a foul shot. He could drive, pull up and make string music but was a basket case on the line. Dr. Stanley Frager, a known psychologist, started working with Darrell on some visualization things including hypnotism, and almost immediately he became a very good foul shooter without changing his shooting mechanics. Somehow he got Darrell to relax in his approach to shooting while he was standing alone in the spotlight.
I'm not going any further but I've posted before how Dr. Richard Coop helped me personally, and I only wish everyone who walks on any athletic field, court, rink or pool at ND could listen to his advice and incredible success stories. He has worked with many greats like Michael Jordan, Mia Hamm, Payne Stewart. Maybe with his gentile advice ND teams could overcome their physical (and mental) focal dystonia at clutch time.