As a basketball coach, how you handle the end of a game can be the difference between a win and a loss. There are certain situations that your team might find themselves in, and you need to know what to do to help your team get the win. For example, you should already have planned out what you will do if your team is down by 1 with 5 seconds left in the game and you have the ball. Close games can be the difference between a really special season and falling just short. Here are some thoughts on late-game situations from some of the best college basketball coaches out there today.
The entire group discussed multiple end-of-half/late-game situations. The session was led by coaches Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh University, Matthew Driscoll University of North Florida, and Shaka Smart Virginia Common Wealth University, but many others participated. The following are notes taken from the various discussion subjects. These basketball coaching clinic notes were compiled by Mark Daigneult and are from the 2010 Florida Coaches Clinic.
Basketball Coaching Clinic Notes
2 for 1
- Coach Dixon is not as concerned with a 2 for 1 as he is with getting a good shot, then getting a stop down the other end. Says that they do not go 2 for 1 because they are confident in getting the stop.
- “It is not worth taking a bad shot to get a 2 for 1.”
- Coach Smart is far more likely to go for 2 for 1 in the 1st half. He said that late in games, “the urgency of getting a great shot” is more important than a 2 for 1.
Last shot of half/game
- When do you start your basketball play and take your shot at the end of a clock?
- Answers varied from 8-13 seconds.
- Coach Smart prefers to go at 12 seconds – especially if it is a longer developing play. This also gives your time to recover from a mistake.
- A big pet peeve of Coach Dixon’s is not getting a shot off at the end of a clock. As a result, they’ll go at 10-12 seconds.
- Defenses tend to over-help at the end of the clock, which allows for offensive rebounding opportunities.
- Coach Driscoll spends time in practice talking about what they want and when they want it.
- They will take a quick score and pick up full court if they score with enough time for the opponent to get another possession.
- Whether or not the team has a foul to give is also a consideration, especially in the NBA.
- Do you take a timeout at the end of the half?
- It depends on the flow of the game.
- Get your team into a somewhat familiar situation you’ve worked on in practice, then call a timeout.
Do you foul late in the game when you’re up by 3?
- If you do, be sure to have all the guys on your team individually practice giving a foul. Often, more than half of the team will do it incorrectly.
- Many coaches agree that you should play for the stop and not let them score. “We work on getting the stop every day of practice, all day.”
- Tell the referee if you’re going to give a foul or not so that they understand your intention.
- Common NBA rule of thumb: only give a foul if the players back is to the basket (because of the continuation rule)
- Regardless of what you do, this situation deserves 10 minutes per week in your practice because of the amount of time it will come up in games.
- Be sure that you are squared up to the offensive player because if you’re on the side or behind him, the ref will often let the foul go.
- Take away the space of the offensive player so that he cannot get a shot off.
- Do you trust your team enough to execute a proper foul?
- Something to also consider – what to do on offense when you know they’re going to foul.
Under OOB. Need a 3. Late in the Game
- Do you have a play?
- Defensively how do you play this situation?
4 seconds left in the game, 1 possession game. Do you call a timeout?
- Coach Smart talked about if you just scored a big basket, to call a timeout to keep your guys from celebrating and allowing your defense to be set.
- Do not allow the offense to sprint the ball up the floor after a score.
- Calling timeout with less than 10 seconds allows you to set your defense and allows more options for the defense. Percentages go with the defense when you set it.
- Cannot get hung up on the time that your philosophy does not work. Must play percentages.
- Count point: calling timeout with less than 2-3 seconds may allow the offense to set a play up to move the ball down the floor.
- Teach your players, “how much time is time.” You can make 3+ basketball plays in 4 seconds.
- Play 2-minute games in practice.
- “That is the time frame where coaches are judged.”
- ODO’s: 3 possessions: Offense/Defense/Offense.
- Practice last-second shots in practice.
- ½ court shots.
- Run late-game plays dry in practice so that you get a shot every time (builds confidence in knowing that you’re going to get a shot).
- What are assistant coaches telling players coming out of a timeout huddle?
- Fouls to give, timeouts, opponent substitutions, possession arrow, whether they have the spot or can run on an inbound.
- Boston Celtics saying in regards to late-game situations: “Be there before you get there.” Make these decisions in June and July, not in the heat of the moment.
- Allow your players (point guards, specifically) to run your huddles in practice so that they are thinking through the situations.
- Have a notebook on the bench of special situation plays so that you can refer to it (or even show it to your team) during specific situations.
- Make film edits of your own team (or other teams) of special situations to use a teaching tool.
- More games are lost than they are won. Don’t panic and be solid. Mistakes usually lose the game, not great plays/coaches winning it.