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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Coaching Strategy – Late Game Situations (#6)

Here we go! Enjoy this latest installment of “Coaching Strategy – Late Game Situations”. Keep the comments coming.

SET UP

Team A is down one point after converting two free throw attempts. There is 1:47 remaining in the game.

Team B has 2 timeouts remaining, while Team A has 1 timeouts remaining.

The possession arrow is in favor of Team B.

Team A is the double bonus, while Team B is in the bonus.

GAME PLAY

Team B takes the ball out-of-bounds on their defensive baseline after Team A converts their second free throw. Team A applies some full court man-to-man pressure defense as Team B inbounds the ball and gets the ball across the time line.

Team B runs their high/lo offense with some ball screen action. As they try to enter the ball to the low post, Team A knocks the ball out-of-bounds on Team B’s offensive baseline with 1:19 left in the game and 8 seconds left on the shot clock.

Team B runs an baseline out-of-bounds play (BLOB) that results in a missed catch and shoot 3pt shot.

A player for Team A rebounds the miss takes one dribble and throws it ahead to a teammate who finishes a layup in transition, giving Team A a one point lead with 1:11 remaining in the game.

Team B inbounds the ball, advances the ball to half court and calls a timeout. There is now 1:04 remaining on the game clock and 30 seconds remaining on the shot clock. Team B now has one timeout left.

Team A defends Team B with man-to-man defense. Team B runs their offense but commits a shot clock violation, failing to get a field goal attempt up in time.

With :34 seconds remaining, Team A inbounds the ball from their defensive baseline. Team B immediately commits a foul sending Team A to the foul line with :33 seconds left.

Team A, who is in the double bonus converts both free throws, to give them a three point lead.

Team B once again crosses half court and with :29 seconds left calls its last timeout.

Team A defends Team B with man-to-man defense. Team B runs pick and roll action and overloads the weakside of the court with three offensive players. Team B’s point guard drives the lane and finds an open shooter in the weak side corner. The shooter misses a clean 3pt field goal attempt with :17.8 seconds remaining in the game. Team A rebounds the miss and is fouled by Team B with 14.6 seconds left in the game.

Team A once again makes both free throw attempts giving them a five point lead.

Team B inbounds the ball, quickly pushes it up the court and misses a tough 3pt field goal attempt. The air ball shot, goes out-of-bounds to Team A.

Team A inbounds the ball on their defensive baseline with 5.1 seconds remaining in the game. A player on Team A catches the ball with  and is fouled with 4.3 seconds remaining.

Team A misses the first attempt but makes the second attempt to give them a six point lead.

Team B inbounds the ball after the free throw makes and push the ball past the half court line. A player from Team A tips the ball away from a player from Team B, the ball goes to a player on Team A for a steal which seals the win for Team A.

MY TAKE

There were a few adjustments that could have been made, although I thought the game was played out relatively well.

Team A did get a good look on the catch and shoot BLOB with 1:19 left and on the subsequent possession despite the shot clock violation they did run good offense and make the defense shift sides of the court multiple times. Of course not getting a shot up in that situation is a mistake and players need to be aware of the time remaining on the shot clock.

Obviously Team B’s possession in between resulted in a relatively easy transition layup. I believe in that situation coaches have to foul the player hard but legally and make them earn their points from the free throw line. Giving up layups with relative ease is a big no-no for me personally.

Also, I did not like either timeout that Team A used, especially the one at the :29 second mark. With Team B attempting two free throws, the coach had plenty of time to relay a quick hitter or set that they wanted to use for that situation. Team A was only down three points, so they did not need to get a 3pt shot, although they did get a great look so I am fine with the shot they got.

In addition, on Team A’s 3 point field goal attempt with :17.8 seconds left Team A overloaded the weakside of the floor to allow them to play two man game on the strong side. The point guard did a nice job attacking the middle of the floor to draw two plus defenders which made for an easy drive and kick 3pt shot. Team B CANNOT give help in that situation. They must allow the layup if needed and also not foul to give Team A an “and 1” opportunity to tie the game up. Fortunately for Team B, it was a critical mistake that they did not get beat on.

Something that I really liked was when Team A inbounded the ball with 5.1 seconds left from their defensive baseline was that when the player caught the ball, they did not dribble the ball frantically. Instead they protected the ball and allowed themselves to get fouled. In that situation they is no need to try and make a play. Team A did the right thing by making Team B give the foul so they could try to make it a three possession game. Unfortunately Team A missed the first free throw so it remained a two possession game, but nevertheless it was played the right way.

I also agree with Team B fouling immediately on both of their last two defensive possessions..

Lastly, Team A did the right thing playing Team B in man-to-man throughout the final minute plus of action, especially when protecting a three point lead.

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 or clarify the situation for you.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

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

Coaching Strategy – Late Game Situation (#4)

Late Game Situation (#3) set the blog’s all-time high for visits on the blog, recording almost 300 in one day! Thank you for all your contributions. I encourage all of you to leave a response with any feedback. Your sharing will help us all develop.

So without further ado…

GAME PLAY

Team A has one time out remaining and has only committed five team fouls. Team B has two timeouts and has committed seven team fouls. Team A is down three points and defensive rebounds the ball with 2:00 remaining in the contest.

Team A gets to the rim and coverts the “And 1” to tie the game up with 1:37 remaining.

While running offense (drive and kick action), Team B turns the ball over with 1:15 remaining.

A player for Team A rebounds the ball and goes coast-to-coast, drawing a two-shot foul with 1:10 remaining. The 86% free throw shooter, misses the first free throw attempt and converts the second free throw attempt, giving Team A a one-point lead.

Team A does not press. Team B inbounds the ball and with 57.3 seconds in the game (and 24 seconds on the shot clock), Team B hits a flare screen 3pt shot to give Team B a two-point lead.

Team A responds by attacking the rim immediately but the layup attempt is blocked out-of-bounds with 46.3 seconds remaining in the game (24 seconds on the shot clock).

Upon inbounds the ball, Team A commits a travelling violation trying to attack the rim with 41.9 seconds left in the game and a 6.9 second differential in the shot clock.

Team B inbounds the ball from their defensive baseline. Team A elects not to press. Team B takes a shot attacking the rim with 15.4 seconds remaining (9 seconds on shot clock).

Team A rebounds the ball, pitches it ahead and attacks the rim. Team A is fouled with 8.7 seconds remaining. Team B calls a timeout to ice the shooter. Team B now has one timeout remaining.

Team A misses the first free throw attempt and makes the second, to make it a one-point game. Team A then takes its last timeout.

Team B inbounds the ball. Team A face guards and switches all screens to pressure the inbound pass. Team A fouls Team B with 5.1 seconds left, this however, is only their 6th team foul.

Team B calls its last timeout.

Team B inbounds the ball on their defensive baseline and is fouled by Team A with 4.7 remaining. Team B now goes to the far court to shoot a one-and-one, still up by one point.

Team B misses the front end of the one-and-one. Team A pushes the ball and takes a runner from 24 feet as time expires. The shot misses and Team B wins by one point.

MY TAKE

All-in-all, I like how these last two minutes played out. Both teams attacked the rim when they could and Team B made a critical uncontested 3pt shot that was a set play.

Obviously if Team A makes another free throw or two, they would have had a chance to win outright. That, of course, was not the case.

Instead Team A had to take a 24 foot 3pt runner as time expired. This was not a bad shot considering they had to go the length of the floor in 4.7 seconds. However, if Team A had not wasted a critical 3.6 seconds on the inbounds pass with 8.7 seconds remaining, they may have had a chance to win the game. If this time was not wasted, Team A may have been able to get one or two more dribbles which may have allowed them to get to the rim for a layup or fouled on the last shot attempt.

The only other way Team A could have saved some time was if they had fouled a little earlier so they did not have to waste four seconds (8.7 seconds to 4.7 seconds) fouling.

One other portion of this situation that is up for debate is Team B taking a timeout with 5.1 seconds left. Obviously Team B was concerned with getting the ball inbounded and wanted to be organized. The only downside to doing so gave Team A a chance to talk strategy on based upon what was going to happen at the free throw line. I am sure that Team B’s coaching staff was also speaking with their players and instructing them what to do if their player had made one or both of the free throws.

I did like Team A’s effort to go two-for-one, however, they travelled with 41.9 seconds left. Despite the poor execution going early in the shot cloack and trying to get a two-for-one was the right play because it was done going to the rim and it would have given them the ball back late in the game.

Another subtle coaching move occurred at the foul line.  Team B iced Team A’s shooter with 8.7 seconds left. Team B also rearranged some personnel on the lane line before the shooter received the ball from the official to make the shooter wait even more. A great stall tactic.

All-in-all, I thought it was well played by both sides.

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