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





Basketball Coach Weekly – Issue 126 – BLOB DeSalvo Article

Here is my latest publication from the most recent edition of Basketball Coach Weekly – Issue 126.

As always your comments below are greatly appreciated.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

EOH Situation #1

This past Monday, Oklahoma State lost against #2 Kansas at legendary Phog Allen Fieldhouse, 94-67.

OSU, who beat Kansas by 19 points in Stillwater, Oklahoma just a month ago lead the Jayhawks early in the first half, 25-17, but Kansas made a 30-9 run to end the first half to give them a 47-34 halftime lead.

The final points of the half came at the hands of Kansas’ sharpshooter Brannen Green, who hit a buzzer-beating 3pt shot to give the Jayhawks a 47-34 advantage.

See video of Green’s buzzer-beater.

This shot was a huge momentum swing in favor of Kansas as OSU just made the back end of pair of free throws, but allowed Kansas to hit the three down with 5.0 seconds remaining.

With the score 44-34, and OK State’s Joe Burton at the line, both Kansas and OK State made substitutions, including Brannen Green, to set their ensuing offense and defense, respectively.

Although OK State did not have any fouls to give (Kansas was in the double bonus), Kansas went small placing four outside shooters onto the floor to stretch the OK State defense.

The Cowboys’ End of Half (EOH) defense failed on several fronts:

  1. They were rushed because they did not substitute Burton after the made free throw: OK State should have substituted Burton out of the game to set their defense, get the matchups they wanted.
  2. They allowed an easy inbound and north catch: If OK State had substituted them could have pushed up on Kansas and defended the inbound pass. By doing so they could have also made the receiver step towards their defensive baseline to make a tougher catch and therefore wasting precious time in order to get the ball inbounded.
  3. They did not make the ballhandler go east-west: Even without executing #2, OK State could have still forced Kansas’ Frank Mason Jr. to take an east-west (side to side) dribble instead of allowing him to merely take two uncontested dribbles and pass to a wide open Green. Again, this stems from #1 because there was no organization in this defensive possession.
  4. They did not push up on the shooters to make them dribblers: Lastly, OK State completed this poor defensive possession by not pushing up on Green. They got caught in the middle of the floor (due to #1 and #2) and did not look organized. In addition, although it is understandable that they do not want to foul a shooter in that situation, if the defense is there prior to the shooter elevating, they will either have to either (a) initiate contact, (b) take an awkward shot or (c) dribble around the defender.

Not executing these factors cost OK State three critical points, which could have kept the game at 10 points going into the half and also keep Kansas’ momentum down. Instead Kansas had confidence and the raucous Jayhawk crowd fully behind them.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

FastDraw – ISO Triple Baseline Horns Entry

This entry is great to get into your horns or hi/lo offense.

It incorporates an ISO, triple baseline screen action, big-to-big screen, flat pick and flows into pick and pop action,  hi/lo action, or Horns offense.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

Holiday “Returns” for Coaches

‘Tis the season…to return all the clothes that don’t fit, the Blu-Rays that you already have or that one thing that you will never, ever use.

To keep with the spirit of the holidays, here are three things that coaches should return for the holidays:

  1. Poor free throw shooting: This is an easy one. It is the only shot in the game that the defense can’t play defense on your shooter and your end of game players can’t make it? Even if it is not an end of the game player, free throws missed in the 1st half matters just the same in the final outcome of the game. Come on! Get your players the gym, try new techniques and work on this skill so that opposing teams do not have a distinct advantage throughout the contest.
  2. Play players who know your system: How much does playing a player who does not know the sets/schemes hurt team chemistry, compromise your authority and build a culture of excuse making? Ask yourself, “Is it worth playing this player?”
  3. Exhibit enthusiasm: It can be a long season…especially if you are not winning your share of games. As a coach, it is your responsibility to energize your group and set the tone for the final stretch. You will be surprised by what some positive energy can bring to your bunch.

What I like about all of these “Returns” is that YOU can control all of them. They don’t require a budget, just a little bit of creativity and some mental toughness.

What would your three “returns” be?

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

Coaching Lessons from the Shark Tank

Inc. magazine’s Bill Murphy Jr put complied data from every episode of ABC’s Shark Tank, where entrepreneurs pitch their product(s)/idea(s) to the ‘Sharks’ in an effort to secure an investment for their company.

What he found was a list of ten things that he learned from this study (see Murphy Jr. Inc. article  — It’s a great  read!)

What I did was translate Murphy’s list for coaches:

1. “Your odds are as good as anyone’s”

Translation: Prepare for your chance…you never know if or when you will get it again.

2. “Bigger markets are better”

Translation: Appeal to as many people as possible — current players, alumni, recruits, parents, administration, support staff, etc.

3. “Don’t get too far ahead of the customer”

Translation: Focus on the present. Get better daily.

4. “Customer needs beat customer wants”

Translation: Remind yourself who your customer is. Provide what your team needs, not boosters/parents/individual players’, etc. wants.

5. “Don’t be ridiculous”

Translation: Set achievable goals for the season, practice, and for each team member.

6. “Focus on the customer, not on yourself”

Translation: Run a player’s first program — Be student-athlete centered.

7. “It’s hard to be trendy”

Translation: Be yourself don’t get caught up in the hype.

8. “Women are better customers than men”

Translation: Girls/women players are better listeners than boys/men.

9. Know your numbers…”

Translation: Know your player’s personalities, their strengths, their limits, their stats, and who your best combination(s) are in certain game situations and in certain times of the year.

10. “…but don’t nickel and dime”

Translation: Trust your gut.


If you have any additional translations, please leave some comments for others to read. Thank you for sharing.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo


The Post Up Game: Don’t Call it a Comeback (or Call it a Comeback?)!

Thanks to Joe Ticotsky of the CT Starters for sharing this article with me the other day. 

Great read — Makes you think about what analytics are really telling us and that sometimes a good ‘ol fashion high percentage post up IS the best shot!

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo