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.


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.


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.


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


9 comments on “Coaching Strategy – Late Game Situations (#1)

  1. Richard "Ziggy" Ziegler says:

    I totally agree with you Bert concerning the play as long as the play has been executed in practice, or use the timeout you have and draw a play. As well as missing the second free throw hard to go down 87′ under 2 sec left.

    • CoachDeSalvo says:


      Thanks for your response. 100% that you can only execute this if you have practiced it and your team knows and understands your thought process.

      That goes for all EOG situations and all situations in general.


      You are doing your players a disservice if you put them in a situation that you have not worked in during practice.

      Prepare them and empower them.

  2. Larry Johnson says:

    Agree with both Coaches, should always try to practice those situations in practice or at least talk about it amongst the coaching staff so you know what you will do in those late game situation so you don’t think you cheated your players afterwards.

    • CoachDeSalvo says:


      Not cheating your players and giving them every chance to win is important. It kind of reminds me of our 2011 PSUAC Championship game. It was a difficult loss to your program, however, I got Heather a clean look at a shot to tie the game and I slept a little better knowing we had a legit shot to tie you at the end.

  3. Troy Culley says:

    Agree with the points made. But I do have one question.. If you are down 1 with 14.6 seconds left in the game and your opponent is in team fouls why are you shooting three? Uncontested or not you have put yourself in the crazy situation of having to foul and then inbound the ball going full court for a chance to win.

    14.6 seconds left, down by 1 – at a minimum get to the foul line. Maybe it is just me but I would have ran something to capitalise on this and not pull up for a three which left time still on the clock.

    • CoachDeSalvo says:

      Coach Culley,

      Great point regarding Team B settling for a 3pt FGA. I assume the logic is that the player who took the shot is a shooter and that’s what he does. Since the look was uncontested I personally do not have a huge problem with that, although I think driving the ball to the rim and putting the onus on the officials to make a call is usually the right thing to do.

      If done correctly, you can shoot it early enough to offensive rebound a miss and foul. Which Team B did in the situation described above, but as a coach you would like to see a little more time on the clock to ensure a better FGA once you foul and get the ball back.

  4. Chris Straker says:

    Interesting points and I think that generally the point you are making is a valid one there appears to be a lot of clock mismanagement generally in modern basketball. The point is in end of game situation to do whatever gives you the greatest chance to win the game. In the situation you describe I can understand why you may inbound and get fouled if you have a great FT shooter you expect to make both and this way you can’t lose the game. However I can’t disagree with what you have said. The one that really gets me is teams up by 3 with less than 10 seconds to go not fouling.

    • CoachDeSalvo says:

      Coach Straker,

      I TOTALLY agree being up by 3 with less than 10 seconds being a must foul situation. We see this situation arise time and time again and coaches would rather allow a game-tying shot than putting a team to the line where they have to make the first, miss the second and then rebound it. Coaches not only need to have their team prepared with a special play in this situation but they also have to execute it.

      I will take my chances with that scenario versus the game-tying desperation shot or even worse a game-tying good look.

      Thank you for your response.

  5. […] basketball-related late game situation examples, please check out the series on my […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s