Coaching Situation: Stopping the Snowball Effect

This past week, Duke staged an historic 23 point comeback to upend Louisville and left the college basketball world shaking its head.

Of course Duke’s freshmen sensations, Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones, all had a part in the comeback which was the largest of Coach Krzyzewski’s hall of fame career.

Duke was down 23 points with 9:13 remaining and then the “Snowball Effect” began. The snowball effect is defined as “a situation in which something increases in size or importance at a faster and faster rate“, until it seemingly is out of control.

Louisville Head Coach, Chris Mack tried to stop the momentum – namely by using all of his timeouts early. However, Cardinal turnovers, coupled with Duke’s shot making, turned the tides and Louisville could never regain its poise.

I once had the “Snowball Effect” get one of my teams as well.

Our coaching staff could see it coming, but we could not do anything to stop the collapse. We called timeouts, extended our defensive pressure, tried to run clock on offense, and remained poised on the sidelines to create a calming effect for our student-athletes. None of these strategies worked unfortunately.

In addition, another major factor of us not being able to hold on to our lead was that we missed free throws, including the front end of 1-and-1’s.

ESPN’s Dan Dakich spoke on his podcast “Courtside with Greenberg and Dakich” (Episode “Mount Zion” 2-13-19, 33:05-35:27) about what do when the “Snowball Effect” is occurring. Dakich was adamant that coaches must address the following (in no particular order):

  1. How do I set something up to get us a bucket?
  2. Who can I lean on right here? Who can calm us down? (Dakich recommends that coaches talk to the calmest person in the timeout and talk to the team through that player)
  3. Where can I go to get fouled? – “The great elixir is throwing the ball on to the block and having a player get fouled.”
  4. Coaches should remind players during timeouts, “If all else fails against pressure, ‘pass fake before you dribble'”

Coaches, please share the most forgettable “snowball” moment in your career (the more details the better) and also provide some tactics that you have used to stop it. Did it work? What would you have done different?

Thank you for your comments!

Follow Bert DeSalvo on twitter @CoachDeSalvo #SEIZE

 

 

 

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