Coaching Strategy – Late Game Situation (#5)

Once again I would like to thank all that have responded to the previous “Late Game Situation” Blogs. Special thanks go out to Cy Fulton, Nick Bartlett, Dan Murphy and Chris Straker for their blog comments and twitter feedback.

Here is an interesting EOG that I thought you would like.

For all those readers who are new, this series of blogs entitled “Coaching Strategy – Late Game Situations” features REAL late game situations from NCAA Division I, Division II and Division III games played that I have watched. I have kept the games anonymous to spark honest and passionate responses.

SET UP

 Team A is up by two points with the ball. There is 1:27 left in the game with 27 seconds on the shot clock as Team A inbounds the ball on their offensive sideline after they call a timeout.

Team B has 3 timeouts remaining, while Team A now has 2 timeouts remaining.

The possession arrow is in favor of Team A.

Team A is the double bonus, while Team B is in the bonus.

GAME PLAY

Team A inbounds the ball and milks the clock down. After giving a post player a touch on the block, the post passes the ball out and a guard hits a contested jump shot as the shot clock expires, giving Team A a four point advantage with 58.0 seconds left.

Team B quickly responds by pushing the ball and connecting on an elbow jumper with 50 seconds remaining. Team B calls a timeout and now has 2 timeouts remaining.

Team A inbounds the ball against Team B’s full-court man-to-man pressure defense. With relative ease, Team A breaks the man-to-man full court press and runs offense. Despite setting multiple ball screens throughout the shot clock and trying to get a lob to the rim as well, Team A settles for a difficult 15 foot bank shot that caroms off the rim.

Team B rebounds the ball with 21.7 seconds left and pushes it up the court. Team B’s player goes coast-to-coast and is fouled in the act of shooting with 15.0 seconds left in the game.

Down by two, the player from Team B proceeds to miss both free throw attempts.

Team A’s post defender rebounds the second miss and hands the ball off to a guard. Team B now fouls Team A’s guard with 11.7 seconds left.

Team A, who is in the double bonus, misses the first free throw attempt. Team B then calls a timeout. Out of the timeout, Team A misses the second free throw.

Team B rebounds the miss and goes coast-to-coast, hitting a tough 8 foot runner to tie the game up with 5.8 seconds remaining.

Team A quickly inbounds the ball, gets the ball over half court and then Team A’s coach calls a timeout with 3.8 seconds left . Team A now has one timeout.

Team A inbounds the ball on a sideline-out-of-bounds play. The player for Team A catches the ball about 27 feet from the rim, hesitates and calls a timeout with 1.9 seconds left. Team A now has zero timeouts.

Team A inbounds the ball and hits a game winning 3pt shot as time expires.

Team A wins by three points.

MY TAKE

There were some good decisions and some head scratchers in this situation.

First, I really like Team B not calling timeouts and pushing the ball against an unset defense at both the 58 second and 21.7 second marks. Both of these plays resulted in positive plays, although two missed free throws cost Team B.

I also thought that Team A managed the clock well at 1:25 taking the clock all the way down. Team A could have used a little more of the shot clock when they got the ball back at :50. However, that was not my real concern. Instead, the shot that ended their offensive possession was a difficult bank shot that was challenged. If you are going to shoot early in that situation, it needs to be a clean look.

More concerning that Team A’s shot selection in that instance, was some other instances of clock management.

For example, when Team B missed both free throws at the :15 mark, they not only allowed a precious 3.3 seconds to run off the clock, but they also allowed Team A’s post player to hand the ball to Team A’s best free throw shooter on the court (83%). Even though Team A’s 83% shooter subsequently missed both free throws, in my opinion that was mismanaged.

Team A also mismanaged some time of their own. When they called the timeout with 3.8 seconds. The resulting inbound was confusing as the player caught the ball, seemed unsure or confused and wasted 1.9 seconds of clock before calling a timeout. Luckily for Team A the player did have enough sense to call their last timeout.

Another point of contention is that how did Team B go coast-to-coast when they hit the 8 foot runner? Shouldn’t Team A in that situation have everyone back with their defense set? I would have put all defenders (besides the shooter) around the 3pt line to protect from a potential game tying or game losing shot (depending upon the second free throw attempt result). Instead Team A had two offensive rebounders on the lane, which made it harder to get organized when Team A missed the second free throw attempt.

The last error that was made was on the game winning shot. Team A ran a big to little backscreen on the strong side baseline. After the backscreen, the forward popped for the clutch 3pt shot winner. Team B mistakenly did not switch the screen so Team A’s forward got a relatively clean catch-and-shoot look. It is unknown if Team B thought there was going to be backscreen and rescreen action, however, Team B still needed to be ready to switch all screens given the time on the clock.

COACHING FEEDBACK

Please comment below and give your take on this late game scenario and how you would have coached it. I appreciate all of your responses and feedback. I have done my best to explain the situation, but if there are any other factors that would impact your decision, I will be happy to retrieve them for you.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

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Coaching Strategy – Late Game Situation (#4)

Late Game Situation (#3) set the blog’s all-time high for visits on the blog, recording almost 300 in one day! Thank you for all your contributions. I encourage all of you to leave a response with any feedback. Your sharing will help us all develop.

So without further ado…

GAME PLAY

Team A has one time out remaining and has only committed five team fouls. Team B has two timeouts and has committed seven team fouls. Team A is down three points and defensive rebounds the ball with 2:00 remaining in the contest.

Team A gets to the rim and coverts the “And 1” to tie the game up with 1:37 remaining.

While running offense (drive and kick action), Team B turns the ball over with 1:15 remaining.

A player for Team A rebounds the ball and goes coast-to-coast, drawing a two-shot foul with 1:10 remaining. The 86% free throw shooter, misses the first free throw attempt and converts the second free throw attempt, giving Team A a one-point lead.

Team A does not press. Team B inbounds the ball and with 57.3 seconds in the game (and 24 seconds on the shot clock), Team B hits a flare screen 3pt shot to give Team B a two-point lead.

Team A responds by attacking the rim immediately but the layup attempt is blocked out-of-bounds with 46.3 seconds remaining in the game (24 seconds on the shot clock).

Upon inbounds the ball, Team A commits a travelling violation trying to attack the rim with 41.9 seconds left in the game and a 6.9 second differential in the shot clock.

Team B inbounds the ball from their defensive baseline. Team A elects not to press. Team B takes a shot attacking the rim with 15.4 seconds remaining (9 seconds on shot clock).

Team A rebounds the ball, pitches it ahead and attacks the rim. Team A is fouled with 8.7 seconds remaining. Team B calls a timeout to ice the shooter. Team B now has one timeout remaining.

Team A misses the first free throw attempt and makes the second, to make it a one-point game. Team A then takes its last timeout.

Team B inbounds the ball. Team A face guards and switches all screens to pressure the inbound pass. Team A fouls Team B with 5.1 seconds left, this however, is only their 6th team foul.

Team B calls its last timeout.

Team B inbounds the ball on their defensive baseline and is fouled by Team A with 4.7 remaining. Team B now goes to the far court to shoot a one-and-one, still up by one point.

Team B misses the front end of the one-and-one. Team A pushes the ball and takes a runner from 24 feet as time expires. The shot misses and Team B wins by one point.

MY TAKE

All-in-all, I like how these last two minutes played out. Both teams attacked the rim when they could and Team B made a critical uncontested 3pt shot that was a set play.

Obviously if Team A makes another free throw or two, they would have had a chance to win outright. That, of course, was not the case.

Instead Team A had to take a 24 foot 3pt runner as time expired. This was not a bad shot considering they had to go the length of the floor in 4.7 seconds. However, if Team A had not wasted a critical 3.6 seconds on the inbounds pass with 8.7 seconds remaining, they may have had a chance to win the game. If this time was not wasted, Team A may have been able to get one or two more dribbles which may have allowed them to get to the rim for a layup or fouled on the last shot attempt.

The only other way Team A could have saved some time was if they had fouled a little earlier so they did not have to waste four seconds (8.7 seconds to 4.7 seconds) fouling.

One other portion of this situation that is up for debate is Team B taking a timeout with 5.1 seconds left. Obviously Team B was concerned with getting the ball inbounded and wanted to be organized. The only downside to doing so gave Team A a chance to talk strategy on based upon what was going to happen at the free throw line. I am sure that Team B’s coaching staff was also speaking with their players and instructing them what to do if their player had made one or both of the free throws.

I did like Team A’s effort to go two-for-one, however, they travelled with 41.9 seconds left. Despite the poor execution going early in the shot cloack and trying to get a two-for-one was the right play because it was done going to the rim and it would have given them the ball back late in the game.

Another subtle coaching move occurred at the foul line.  Team B iced Team A’s shooter with 8.7 seconds left. Team B also rearranged some personnel on the lane line before the shooter received the ball from the official to make the shooter wait even more. A great stall tactic.

All-in-all, I thought it was well played by both sides.

COACHING FEEDBACK

Please comment below and give your take on this late game scenario and how you would have coached it. I appreciate all of your responses and feedback. I have done my best to explain the situation, but if there are any other factors that would impact your decision, I will be happy to retrieve them for you.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

Coaching Strategy – Late Game Situations (#3)

Thank you to everyone who has read and commented on the first two Late Game Situations posts. They have been very successful as I received almost 350 total views combined!

With that said here is another scenario for you to think about.

GAME PLAY

With 1:08 remaining in the game, Team B has the ball and is down 73-67. Team A has four timeouts and Team B has one timeout. Both teams are in the bonus.

Team B runs offense and sets a ball screen at the 3pt line and Team A goes under the screen. Team B hits a 3pt shot with 1:01 remaining, to make it a one possession game at 73-70. Team A calls a timeout with :59 seconds remaining.

Team A runs offense but is forced to take a 26 foot desperation 3pt shot with :01 second on the shot clock and :30 left in the game. Team A rebounds the miss, but Team B forces a jumpball. Alternating possession gives the ball to Team B with :26 seconds remain in the game.

Team B calls a timeout with :26 seconds remaining. Team B now has no timeouts remaining.

After the timeout, Team A presses Team B. Team B breaks the press but misses an uncontested 3pt field goal attempt with :18 seconds remaining. The loose ball ends up going out-of-bounds by Team B with 14.8 seconds remaining.

Team A calls a timeout and now have 2 timeouts remaining.

Team A inbounds the ball at their defensive foul line extended. Team A turns the ball over on the inbound pass. Team B steals the ball about 50 feet from their basket. Team B quickly dribbles to the 3pt line and shoots an uncontested 3pt shot with 12.4 seconds remaining. The 3pt shot misses and Team A rebounds the ball. Team A eventually throws the ball down the court to try to get a fastbreak layup, but a player for Team A drops the ball out-of-bounds with 3.5 seconds remaining.

Team B has to inbound the ball at their defensive baseline.

Team A calls a timeout and now has 1 remaining.

Team B throws the ball to half court. The player at half court for Team B tries to make another pass to their teammate but the ball goes out of bounds to end the game.

MY TAKE

In my opinion, Team A made a tremendous amount of mistakes. Any one of these could have cost Team A the game:

1.  With 1:08 remaining Team A should have come over the top of the ball screen at least. I personally would have switched and made them throw it back for a hi/lo opportunity or a drive to the rim. Either way giving up a 3pt field goal in that situation, making the game a one possession game is an error.

2. I didn’t mind Team A using almost all of the shot clock, however, to launch a 3pt shot from that distance without really putting any pressure on the defense (because the guards were merely throwing the ball around the perimeter) is not . Instead, Team A should have attacked the rim during their possession and put the onus on the officials to call a foul.

3. As far as timeout management goes, as Team A’s head coach, I would have called one of their three timeouts after the offensive rebound to maintain possession. Instead, Team A’s head coach allowed Team B to tie them up and regain possession on the alternating possession arrow.

4. Yet another mistake Team A made was pressing Team B. First, Team A is not a pressing team (at all) which most likely made their players lose confidence. Secondly, Team A gave up an uncontested 3pt field goal attempt fairly easy.

5. Another mistake Team A made was when they turned the ball over with 12.4 seconds left to Team B. If Team A could not easily inbound the ball and wait to be fouled, they should have called a timeout. Instead Team A turned the ball over.

6. Upon this turnover, Team A easily could have fouled to prevent the game tying 3pt field goal attempt. Once again, Team A failed to do so.

7. Team A made yet another mistake by throwing the ball down the court after the previously mentioned 3pt miss. Team B clearly had to foul Team A to stop the clock, so this turnover by Team A gave Team B yet another possession to try to tie the game up with 3.5 seconds remaining.

8. In addition, to make matters worse, Team A called a timeout after the previously mentioned turnover to allow Team B to set up a last second full-court play. I understand setting your defense, but once again, I would have had fouled Team B in this instance to not allow another potential 3pt field goal attempt.

All-in-all, I felt that Team A did a very poor job with timeout management, foul management, shot clock management and taking care of the ball. It seems that Team A did just about everything wrong, IN ALL ASPECTS, but still won despite these near fatal errors.

COACHING FEEDBACK

Please comment below and give your take on this late game scenario and how you would have coached it. I appreciate all of your responses and feedback. I have done my best to explain the situation, but if there are any other factors that would impact your decision, I will be happy to retrieve them for you.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

What One Coaching Milestone Really Means

Last night, Coach Ron Righter won his 400th game in his coaching career at Clarion University. Coach Righter actually is 424-314 overall in his 28 years on the sidelines.

As a coach, I tend to think about all of those possessions. All of those questionable foul calls. All of those long bus rides. The emotional wins. The heartbreaking defeats. The time spent on the road recruiting. The time lost with family.

So is the life of a coach. It is part of the profession. It is part of the passion.

Righter, the winningest coach in Clarion University history, has had 15 seasons of at least 15 wins including three 20-win seasons at Clarion. He led the Golden Eagles to the only PSAC title in school history (2001) and has taken them to three PSAC West titles as well (1997, 2000, 2005).

According to the Clarion University Athletic Website, a humble Righter noted, “to be honest with you, it’s just a number. It’s really more a team award than an individual award. It’s about all the players, assistant coaches, graduate assistant coaches we’ve had here over the last 26 years. It’s about them, and it’s about the guys on this team. They’ve battled hard through difficult times this year. I’m proud of them, and hopefully this is a win we can build off of.”

That is exactly the kind of sentiment that I would expect from a person with the type of character as Coach Righter.

Although my time spent with Coach Righter was brief, I always admired Coach Righter. Not for just the wins, his loyalty to the program, his basketball mind and his incredible stories though, but for him as a person.

Coach Righter was quick to offer a ‘hello’ and ask how you were doing.

— He takes the time.

Coach Righter always had time to listen.

— He cares.

Coach Righter always maintained his professionalism.

— He has self-respect.

Coach Righter always was honest.

— He kept it real.

Coach Righter had perspective and kept his family and faith first.

— He knows what is most important.

Coach Righter smiled, shook your hand and made you feel good about yourself.

— He is simply a nice person.

Coach Righter has coached at college basketball’s highest level with some of the all-time greats but you would never know it. He never talked about himself or his resume. He never made any of the 424 wins about him.

In addition, as a young coach with ambitions and a vision, Coach Righter made me feel good about myself as a person and a coach. He respected my opinion and offered to help me in any way he could to further my career. For that offer I am forever thankful and appreciative to him.

As I continue my coaching career, I hope I am fortunate enough to have the same type of positive influence that Coach Righter has had with his family, his coaching staff, and countless student-athletes that he has impacted.

Congratulations on your 4ooth win at Clarion, Coach Righter.

You are right it is just a number…A number to be very proud of.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

Coaching Strategy – Late Game Situations (#2)

I want to thank all of the comments and tweets that I received yesterday and this morning regarding yesterday’s Late Game Situation (#1) post. I think that everyone brought an interesting perspective.

Since yesterday’s post was such a success, here is another situation I wanted to bring to your attention.

GAME PLAY

Team A is leading Team B by two points late in the game. Team A has committed 2 team fouls, while Team B has committed 5 team fouls. Team A has possession. Both teams have two timeouts remaining.

Team B commits two personal fouls to put Team A to the foul line for a one-and-one opportunity. Team A makes the first and misses the second, increasing their lead to three points with :28 seconds remaining.

With the clock running down, Team B makes a semi-contested 3pt shot at the top of the key to tie the game with :16 remaining.

Team A commits an offensive foul driving to the basket, which gives the ball to Team B with :6.3 seconds remaining. Team A now has 3 team fouls.

Team A calls a timeout.

Team B inbounds the ball from their defensive baseline, where they are fouled immediately by Team A (4th team foul) with :05 seconds remaining. Team B inbounds the ball from their defensive foul line extended, where they are fouled once again by Team A (5th team foul) with :3.6 seconds remaining.

Team B calls a timeout.

Team B inbounds the ball near half court. Team B gets a uncontested 3pt shot opportunity with :02 seconds remaining that misses. Team B rebounds the miss and scores, however it is ruled after the buzzer, which sends the game to overtime.

Fastforward to late in the overtime period, where Team A still has five team fouls and Team B now has 10 team fouls and both teams have a timeout.

Team A makes a jump shot to tie the game up with :27 seconds remaining. With :19.5 remaining Team B calls a timeout.

Team B inbounds the ball on their offensive foul line extended. Team B uses the clock and gets a 3pt field goal attempt with :04 seconds remaining. Player X on Team B offensive rebounds the miss and his tip-in attempt misses as well. However, he once again rebounds his miss and tips-in the game winner as time expires.

Team B wins by two points.

MY TAKE

As I watched this scenario unfold, I would have done a few things different as a head coach for Team A.

First, Team A did fo a nice job to get one of its best free throw shooters on the line in regulation, when it was evident that Team B was trying to foul to them. The shooter who was at the line was the second best FT shooter at 81% (34-42).

However, once Team A’s shooter only made 1 of 2 free throws, and with four team fouls to give, Team A should have been more intent on fouling. I understand saving one foul because you do not want the official to put Team B on the line for a one-and-one on a 50/50 call. Even so, that would have given Team A three fouls to use to keep Team B from shooting a 3pt shot.

The second mistake Team A made was allowing a 3pt shot. Defenders should be giving no help and push up on their man to limit a game tying shot. Even if they make a layup, Team A could have called a timeout to get the ball inbounded to their best free throw shooter back on the line for another one-and-one. You cannot play defense (stunt and recover) the same way in this situation. Period.

Team A did use their fouls effectively after committing the offensive foul, however, they still gave Team B a good look and offensive rebound at the end of regulation (which barely was after the buzzer).

Unbelievably, Team A committed no fouls in the overtime session so they still had one to give. With :19.5 remaining when you know the opponent is going to run the clock down, they had the opportunity to foul several times to force Team B to inbound the ball with under :05 seconds. This would have only given Team A six team fouls and would have forced Team B to execute a sideline-out-of-bounds play to win the game, by either making a field goal or getting to the foul line and converting at least one attempt.

Even more baffling is that Team A gave up a similar offensive rebound (actually two of them) and two tip-in opportunities.

Although I understand not fouling, I disagree with it personally. Having a foul to give does no good when you are talking to your team in the locker room after a heartbreaking loss.

COACHING FEEDBACK

Please comment below and give your take on this late game scenario and how you would have coached it. I appreciate all of your responses and feedback. I have done my best to explain the situation, but if there are any other factors that would impact your decision, I will be happy to retrieve them for you.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

Coaching Strategy – Late Game Situations (#1)

As I watch a variety of women’s and men’s college basketball games at all levels, I have found some interesting game situations arise that I would like to have an open discussion about.

 

SCENARIO #1: Team A is leading Team B by one point. Team B has no timeouts, Team A has a timeout remaining. Both teams are in the double bonus.

GAME PLAY

Team A has ball on their offensive end baseline-out-of-bounds with :04 seconds left on the shot clock and 14.6 seconds left in the game.  Team A misses a jump shot and Team B rebounds the shot, pushes ball up the court and misses an uncontested 3pt shot. This leaves 2.5 seconds remaining in the game as the ball goes out-of-bounds off of Team B. Team A now has possession.

Team A inbounds the ball from their defensive baseline, to an open player near the baseline in the defensive short corner, who is immediately fouled by Team B. This leaves 1.9 seconds left on the clock.

Team A unintentionally misses the first free throw. Then makes the second free throw, giving Team A two-point lead.

With no timeouts, Team B inbounds the ball and is allowed to catch the ball moving towards their offensive basket. A player heaves a half court 3pt field goal attempt that misses its mark.

Team A wins by two points.

MY TAKE

As I watched this scenario unfold, I would have done a few things different as a head coach for Team A.

First, if I was Team A, I would not have inbounded the ball near my defensive basket with 2.5 seconds left especially when Team B had zero timeouts remaining. Instead I would have thrown the ball about 80 feet down the court, to ensure it was touched by someone and force Team B to heave a desperation shot 60+ feet to win the game.

In addition, the player from Team A who was fouled after catching the inbound pass, was only a 65.6% (61-93) free throw shooter on the season. He then proceeded to make one of two from the charity stripe.

Secondly, once Team A missed the first free throw, I would have purposely missed the second free throw to force (once again) Team B to heave a desperation shot 60+ feet to win the game. Instead Team A made the second free throw, which only put them up by two points and more importantly gave Team B a chance to potentially set up a late game play to win the game or force it to overtime.

Again, I would never had made it to the second situation as I would not have put Team A in the position to be fouled. However, if I did, that is how I would have coached it.

COACHING FEEDBACK

Please comment below and give your take on this late game scenario and how you would have coached it. I appreciate all of your responses and feedback.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

Happy (Old and) New Year!

As everyone celebrates the New Year and ushers in 2014, I believe it is a great time to reflect on 2013 as well.

I hope I have done an admirable job in 2013 of taking the time to reflect on the gifts, the losses, the struggles, and the joys that Have been a part of the year. I also hope I continue to have an appreciation for what I have on a day-to-day basis and continue to grow.

As 2014 begins, I am looking forward to continue to thank those who made 2013 possible and pledge to make 2014 an even better year for myself, my family and others I come in contact with.

My one word for 2014 is #SEIZE