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.
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.
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.
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