The Basketball Tournament Tip-Off x FastModel Finish

By Doug Brotherton

TBT bracket

See how a Michigan AAU tournament used the Elam Ending, similar to what The Basketball Tournament does, for better late game situations.

Today is tip-off of the The Basketball Tournament, which in its sixth year has become another great summer viewing option for basketball fans (You can catch all games airing live on ESPN networks). One of the most recognizable features of TBT has been the Elam Ending. The Elam Ending is an alternative ending to games, which eliminates intentional fouling, maintains the flow of the game, and ensures that all games end with a game winning shot. FYI – it’s pretty exciting.

Nick Elam watched and catalogued literally thousands of NBA and March Madness games, and found that teams resort to intentional fouling roughly half the time. In the 2018 NCAA Tournament alone, teams in 44 of the 70 second halves/overtime periods tried to come back by purposefully fouling. However, according to Elam’s data, in only three of those 44 occasions did the trailing team eventually come back to tie the game or take the lead.

This spring, I contacted FastModel Sports to pitch the idea of supporting our own Elam Ending at a high school AAU basketball tournament, the Up North Challenge in Michigan. It was a way to test and receive feedback on this alternative ending at the high school level. We made a few adjustments and called it the FastModel Finish. Below is a simple breakdown of how it works.


Throughout the tournament, we looked for feedback from players, AAU coaches, college coaches, and officials. The general consensus from the players was that they enjoyed the different format. The first FastModel Finish included a game winner from RJ Taylor of Parallel 45, and then he gave us his thoughts.

The response from the coaches was a mixed bag. A majority of the coaches enjoyed the alternative ending, because it allowed the end of game strategy to be based on playing basketball. It also eliminated some of the chippy situations that can take place at the end of games. One coach said, “I really enjoyed the new system to finish games. It was fun to be in an end of game timeout, knowing that I was diagramming a potential game winning play.”

College coaches and officials were the biggest fans of the Elam Ending/FastModel Finish. It allowed both groups to enjoy more possessions of basketball at the end of the games. One official gave this explanation: “The reason that officials like it is that a player is guaranteed to determine the outcome of the game. Someone has to put the ball in the basket, to end the game. That is a positive for players, coaches, and fans.”

As the Tournament Director, I only had one issue, which is hard to predict. In two of our games, the teams really struggled to score, which made the FastModel Finish take an extended period of time. In one game, it took 34 minutes for the winning team to score the seven points necessary to win. This caused the court to fall behind schedule. Three of our four courts stayed on schedule, or ahead of schedule, but one court fell 50 minutes behind. While this was frustrating for players and teams, it is also a regular occurrence in tournaments, as teams foul to extend the game or go into multiple overtimes. Other than that one court, the FastModel Finish was a huge success. I was contacted by a coach in Dallas, who used the Elam Ending in their high school summer league. It was very popular and they plan to continue to use it.

As The Basketball Tournament tips off, be sure to look for the Elam Ending. It will create some incredible finishes, and guarantees that someone will make a TWO MILLION DOLLAR SHOT to win the event! In the 2019 Up North Challenge, our U17 Championship was also decided in dramatic fashion.

Interested in utilizing the FastModel Finish or Elam Ending at your next event? Contact Coach Doug Brotherton via e-mail at

More from Doug Brotherton: All Plays & Drills | All Blog Posts | WNBA plays | Jay Bilas Skills Camp Recap

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Doug Brotherton is currently the girls varsity basketball coach at The Village School, in Houston, Texas. He has over 15 years of head coaching experience, across multiple levels. He has coached boys high school basketball, girls high school basketball, and started the Men's Basketball program at Mid-Michigan Community College. He is a former NBA Regional Advanced Scout for the Chicago Bulls. He is the founder of Dynamic Coaching Tools ( Coach Brotherton was elected as the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Large Private School Board Member. Coach Brotherton helps develop the drill book and coaches packets for Jay Bilas Basketball Camps, as well as participating in its Coaching Development Program and presenting on the benefits of FastDraw. In 2018, Positive Coaches Alliance selected Coach Brotherton as one of the 50 Double-Goal Coach National Award Winners, for his positive impact on his athletes on the court and in life. In 2020, Brotherton led the Village School to the TAPPS 6A State Championship, earning Coach of the Year Honors in Texas. He was also the lead of the TABC Virtual Clinic, which featured over 100 speakers, made up of some of the biggest names in basketball.
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