As the Men’s and Women’s Final Four approaches, you can guarantee that these elite teams are practicing “time and score” situations daily. For those of us already on “summer break,” it’s never too early to start thinking about next season.
One thing must be made clear: practicing “time and score” situations ahead of time will by no means guarantee that your players will perform under the pressure of a close game. But when the time comes for a critical read or a last-second shot to be made, you will be certain that you have prepared your players as thoroughly as possible to succeed in such a scenario. Below are a few lists of items that coaches should think through and discuss with their team well before these actions need to be used by your players in a game.
Have you talked to your team about what you want them to do in these tight end-of-game situations?
- #FoulorDefend: up 3 with less than 10 seconds to go…do you want them to foul on purpose before the other team has a chance to shoot a 3, or simply play out the possession with good defense?
- You have fouls to give at the end of a game: do you want your players to commit fouls in order to waste time?
- If you have one timeout left (and you want to use it), where do you want your point guard to be on the court before you take the timeout? (Just across half court? In front of your bench? Below the 3pt line? On the left wing? On the right wing?)
- Does your inbounder know how to “waste time” (tying their shoe or asking the referee a question) in order to allow you time to call a play and for your other players to get in position?
Does you team know how to do these things if you ask them to?
- Miss a free throw on purpose to allow your rebounders a chance to put it back quickly?
- Do your rebounders know how to “cross” for a rebound? (1st rebounding player sprints in front of the opposite team’s big man, screening him as your 2nd rebounder sprints across to the opposite side of the lane…which is hopefully where the ball is)- See diagram.
- If you have fouls to give and you want your players to purposely foul, do they know how to do this correctly? This means not accidentally committing a foul on a shot, wasting enough time between fouls to drain the clock, and giving your team a chance to see how the other team lines up?
- Does your team know the difference between controlling the ball and a tip in? When less than 0.3 seconds remain on either the shot or game clock, players are only allowed to tip the ball towards the basket., This means that they cannot bring the ball down or catch/control the ball, but instead can only redirect the ball into the basket.
- Does everyone on your team understand the difference between fouling on purpose and committing a flagrant foul? Be sure that your players always make an attempt on the ball when purposely fouling and that they do not use excessive force.
Coaches, are you prepared for last minute/second situations?
- Who on the staff is going to draw up last second plays? Who is in charge of telling the players which team has the possession arrow in case of a jump ball, or how many timeouts you have left?
- Do you have your “last second plays” already diagrammed and laminated on cards so you don’t waste valuable time drawing the play up in front of the team?
- Do you know who the best and worse percentage FT and 3pt shoots are on the opponent’s team and on your team?
- Have you spoken with your team about 2 for 1 situations and how you would like to manage those chances?
***A fun way to practice last minute/second situations is to create a deck of cards with each card having a complete late-game scenario on it (for example: down 3 with 25 seconds to play, each team with one timeout, both teams in the double bonus…or up 4 with 1:30 to go, each team has 1 foul to give, your starting PG has fouled out). Have a player choose a card at random from the deck each day during your practice. After playing out the scenario, be sure to take the time to break down each aspect of the scenario so your players learn as much as they can from each situation.
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