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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14 comments on “Coaching Strategy – Late Game Situation (#5)

  1. Russ Willemsen says:

    Luck was on team A’s side lol. Not sure that’s how they drew it up, but it worked out this time. My philosophy late game offense is to get a GOOD shot and hope luck is on your side!

  2. cyfulton1 says:

    The nice thing about these “late game situations” is you immediately think “I’d do this or that”, and then, after reading other coaches’ comments ( and Coach DeSalvo’s), you say “Wow! I like that!” and include it in your own program. THANKS!
    I especially agree with team B pushing the BB before defense gets set, and we would definitely foul the post immediately. I like having a key that reminds our team to go for the BB and foul immediately.
    When team A inbounded with 3.8 left, the coach may have said that if this cut isn’t open, call time out? Lots of variables there.
    On the game winning play, I agree with switching everything because we know teams run their best SLOB play. With 1.9 left, we might not play the inbounder to help on inbounds pass because there’s not enough time to make a 2nd pass.

    • CoachDeSalvo says:

      VERY ASTUTE point by Coach Fulton here everyone!!!! “With 1.9 left, we might not play the inbounder to help on inbounds pass because there’s not enough time to make a 2nd pass.”

      That’s why I love the feedback, great to see what others would do. And YES, I agree with this wholeheartedly.

  3. Troy Culley says:

    I will look to provide my feedback in the best possible way. Don’t fully understand the double bonus / bonus rules compared to England where when a team hits team fouls it is two free throws regardless.

    Team A were lucky to get that game winner. I would have been very concerned if my players had gone out on the floor towards the end of that game and had uncertainty. In England players can’t call timeouts so that could have cost Team A the game over here. Overall I thought they did a reasonable job with managing the clock but there should have been no way that they allowed Team B to make that coast-coast with 5.8 seconds left. As a coach I would have been going mental. When Team A went to the foul line, I would have still put two offensive rebounders in but I would have put the other two players back in our own half. If there was an issue we would have fouled making them earn it from the line as we would still be up +2, not allow them to go coast-coast.

    Just a couple of thoughts, slowly adjusting to the collegiate style.

    • CoachDeSalvo says:

      Coach Culley,

      The college rules in the states are when a team commits 7 teams fouls the opposing team shoots a “1 and 1” and when a team reaches 10 team fouls the opposing team shoots 2 shots. All fouls (no matter when they occur) result in two free throws if the shooter is in the act of shooting when the foul is committed. Also, player control fouls (illegal screen, charge, etc.) do not result in shooting fouls either. “1 and 1” simply means if you make the first free throw attempt, you get a second attempt. So that’s where the team bonus (“1 and 1”) and double bonus (2 shots, no matter if you miss the first or not) come into play.

      Thanks for asking for the clarification.

      I think you also taught us something here by your comment, “In England players can’t call timeouts so that could have cost Team A the game over here.” I was unaware of that. I actually would prefer if during live balls, coaches could not call a timeout and players had to (the reverse of your rule and a change to our rule, where coaches can call timeouts whenever). I think by allowing only players to call timeouts during game play, they would have to be in tune more with the coaching staff and their philosophy and be even more students of the game.

      Hopefully, this would lead to greater communication and trust between coaches and players.

    • CoachDeSalvo says:

      Coach Culley,

      The college rules in the states are when a team commits 7 teams fouls the opposing team shoots a “1 and 1” and when a team reaches 10 team fouls the opposing team shoots 2 shots. All fouls (no matter when they occur) result in two free throws if the shooter is in the act of shooting when the foul is committed. Also, player control fouls (illegal screen, charge, etc.) do not result in shooting fouls either. “1 and 1” simply means if you make the first free throw attempt, you get a second attempt. So that’s where the team bonus (“1 and 1”) and double bonus (2 shots, no matter if you miss the first or not) come into play.

      Thanks for asking for the clarification.

      I think you also taught us something here by your comment, “In England players can’t call timeouts so that could have cost Team A the game over here.” I was unaware of that. I actually would prefer if during live balls, coaches could not call a timeout and players had to (the reverse of your rule and a change to our rule, where coaches can call timeouts whenever). I think by allowing only players to call timeouts during game play, they would have to be in tune more with the coaching staff and their philosophy and be even more students of the game.

      Hopefully, this would lead to greater communication and trust between coaches and players.

  4. Rob Wilson says:

    You agree with not calling the time outs to set up your offense or defense in this situation? Ive always been someone that wants to call time out and get everything set, and not leave anything up to chance. I very well could be wrong, but that’s just always the way Ive done it. I agree with the Team A players being of the lane on those free throws, why do you need to try to offensive rebound if you are planning on making the free throws, and you are right, not setting your defense made that coast to coast shot possible. Once team B missed those free throws, they definitely should have fouled the big who rebounded the ball. Ultimately Team A should have won the game, and they did, but they did make it far more interesting than it had to be

    • CoachDeSalvo says:

      Rob,

      I think if you like to call a timeout to set or defense or offense in that situation, you should. As long as you practice it and your players are expecting it then it’s fine. If players are going to just go and play in that situation, coaches need to make sure that players understand “this is what we do” and work on it.

  5. I think I completely agree with you here, Bert! Again, I I’ll reiterate the importance of milking down the clock if you’re Team A in that situation. To take a tough shot relatively early in the shot clock is completely unacceptable. Apparently this is a big pet peeve of mine…haha.

    I agree that not taking timeouts in that situation was the right call for Team B. Even if you draw up a great play, I’d rather take my chances in transition with a scrambling defense, than go against a set defense prepared to dig into gaps and protect the paint.

    With 1.9 seconds left, I think you should put in 5 of your best defensive/athletic players and tell them to communicate & SWITCH everything. Although Team B made a mistake, at least it was a 3 that beat them instead of a bucket near the basket. Still unfortunate they didn’t just switch it out.

    I like the first comment about taking the defender off of the inbounder to help with potentially denying a good option. Another idea is to put your tallest defender on the inbounder regardless of who it is. Personally, I remember a team doing that to me when I was playing in college (at D3 UW-Eau Claire). It was the end of the half with about 1 second left and I was inbounding a SLOB (I’m 6’3″). The opposing coach specifically subbed in their 6’10” guy that barely ever played and told him “Put your hands up and keep jumping.” He was angled where I could honestly see nothing near the hoop. We had a designed lob play but there was no way I could throw an accurate pass with that giant in front of me. I was forced to throw it backcourt and we shot a contested 30+ footer that didn’t come close. I remember thinking…”Wow, that was actually pretty well played.” Now, this is assuming Team B had a very tall player. It also helps if there isn’t much room for the inbounder to step back. Regardless, I couldn’t help but think of my own experience 🙂

    • CoachDeSalvo says:

      Nick,

      You are consistent and that is really what makes a great coach. If you want the shot clock dwindled down, people can agree with you or not. More importantly, it’s your x’s and o’s philosophy and as long as you are steadfast with it I believe that is fine. It is a debatable coaching point, I personally would rather get a quality look and forfeit using 5-7 seconds, rather than using all the clock and possibly getting not as good of a look.

      Again, that’s what makes the game interesting. We each have some things we would rather do in certain situations.

      I do agree, at least Team B made Team A take a 3pt shot vs. a higher percentage shot. The mistake was made by not switching though and that’s tough to swallow.

      I also like your idea of subbing a tall player to deny the inbounder. If so, like the team you played against, I would be sure to angle the defender so you could only see the backcourt and make it as difficult as possible. You cannot show the near sideline if you want to defend it that way, which is how Team A won, with a near sideline 3pt shot.

      GREAT POINT!

  6. Rob Wilson says:

    thank you! My kids seem to react better in the late game situations when I set something up for them. They don’t seem to listen as well otherwise, lol!!

  7. Rob Wilson says:

    that’s the beauty part of coaching playing for 4 years, lol. Even though we have had a lousy season this season, I know what my players can do, and I hate seeing them not live up to what their capabilities are. Its a frustrating job sometimes, lol, but I love it. I do however know that I try way too hard to save those timeouts for these situations, go in playing every game as its oing to be a close game, and I think that messes us up sometimes, because Im kind of afraid to not have those timeout at the end, and sometimes I let the game get out of our control by the time I use them. You live and learn, hopefully someday Ill learn. haha

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