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.


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.


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.


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


13 comments on “Coaching Strategy – Late Game Situations (#3)

  1. cyfulton1 says:

    Ouch! Where to start:
    1. We would jump switch the screen & run shooter off the line. Give up a contested 2, but no 3.
    2. If it’s now just 1 possession, we call “V” which is our Victory Plan”, & we run our offense for ONLY a layup or foul.
    3.A’s coach went negative & his team became overly cautious which led to more mistakes. Do what u do Best.
    4. Wouldn’t press hard, but maybe a passive one, just to take some time off clock.
    5. Agree with #5 & would foul (#6) if back is turned to basket or they catch it at 90′.
    6.after the game, go over all situations and explain how I screwed up and will rectify it in practice.
    7. Still, a W is a W, even though we were fortunate.

    • CoachDeSalvo says:

      Coach Fulton,

      Team A did hard trap, which was very confusing to me.

      I kind of shook my head on this one because I kept finding ways that Team A could stretch this to AT LEAST a two possession game, but it never happened. Instead, I kept seeing more and more coaching errors.

      Again this was a real game!

      • Tim says:

        Any reason y team B did not gonfor a quick 2 in either sutuation when they were down 3? Know shots were uncontested but wondering if a better 2 was available?

      • CoachDeSalvo says:


        Fair point. I had no problem with Team B’s first 3pt FGA when they broke the press and got an awesome look. There was enough time to get a 2pt shot and maybe even and “And 1”.

        I do think the second 3pt FGA wasn’t the best shot because the player had to take several dribbles into the shot. Again there still would have been time to foul.

        I think it depends on the player shooting the shot and how much freedom the coaching staff gives to the players.

        Confidence is key!

      • cyfulton1 says:

        Then my #6 is even more applicable.

  2. cyfulton1 says:

    Was at game where team got killed on boards. Coach asked me what I thought b/c I know him? I told him they need to work on rebounding. He said, “It’s all heart.” Doesn’t work on it. Too many think it will just happen. I never want a situation arise that we haven’t prepared for in practices.

  3. JP says:

    I like! Also don’t think A should have called TO after first three, allowed B to get set, almost a free TO for B

    • CoachDeSalvo says:

      JP, I couldn’t agree more. Unless you are so disorganized and do not trust your kids (which in Team A’s case may be so) I would not allow Team B to set a full court play up.

  4. Eric Salsbury says:


    Wow. I can’t believe the comedy of errors here. The use of timeouts in and of itself was enough, but to me the offensive mistakes are the worst part. Especially when you’re using timeouts – how does that happen. The offense should have looked to attack/get a better shot at about 10 seconds of the shot clock on Team A’s first possession. Second – don’t force the ball down the court and risk a turnover, like they did, when a foul will put you on the line to ice the game.

    And regarding the coach who doesn’t work on rebounding and says “it’s all heart”. I couldn’t agree with you more Bert, what’s the point of practice at all. I mean, couldn’t you say the difference between winning and losing is all heart. I agree that will is a significant part of rebounding, but there is definitely technique and something to be gained by practicing.

    Don’t understand some of the thought processes.


    • CoachDeSalvo says:

      This is a real situation from a real game…”I swear on the Bible” 🙂

      If rebounding is an issue then you have to make it a priority. Reshow the proper technique, change the technique, don’t leak guards out on defensive glass, send more rebounders to the offensive glass, etc.

      Don’t get beat on the glass the same way! You are the coach…do something to have a positive impact on this important aspect of the game.

      Coaches who feel helpless and like a victim are not leaders in my opinion.

  5. Richard "Ziggy" Ziegler says:

    So many coaching errors within the last minute of the game! This is insane!
    First off the possession with 1:08, you have to force the dribbler off the 3 pt line! (should have been covered with personnel and b/s D).
    Secondly, offense needs to be better executed coming out of a timeout. Perfectly okay with running the clock down, but need a better shot.
    If I was team B, I would tell them we don’t need a three, quick 2 would be great but can’t take too much time off the clock. Then foul!
    2 Timeouts left and you turn the ball over on the inbound pass?!?!?!?!?! Your inbounder has to know to call a timeout (and they have the choice) in the situation if can’t get the ball in! Have you trust your players with that call!
    Tough to call in the situation without being in the game but I might have fouled after turning it over depending on how well the other team 3pt shot was to only give them a chance a 2pts instead of 3.

    WHY THROW THE BALL?!?!?!?!?!?! Hold it! They have to foul you!

    I would have never called a timeout with 3.5 secs left when I am on D and the other team has 0 timeouts do not give a chance for the other team to draw up a play. Are you trying to lose?
    I would have put in my best defenders and maybe foul once the ball got to half court for the same reason as before.

    • CoachDeSalvo says:

      Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes AGAIN.

      The coaching staff had multiple instances to right several wrongs here but failed to do so. The ironic part is that Team A still won (miraculously).

      I am not sure what they did to appease the Basketball Gods, but it sure worked!

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