Recently I was at a varsity game that was very close at the end, Team A was up by just 1-point over Team B. Team B had the ball with 11 seconds left but it appeared that they didn't know the clock situation and the point guard held the ball too long. With just 3 seconds left, he passed the ball to another player who didn't look like he knew what to do. Everyone in the gym was yelling "shoot" and so he tried to heave something resembling a shot only to get blocked badly. The game ended and Team B won. This was a fall game, so I wasn't even sure the coach was their regular in-season coach but it cannot be understated, the importance of preparing for close games.
I've posted before on the fouling situation, but I read through a set of notes from Rick Barnes, head coach at University of Texas that articulated very well what every coach should be thinking about in terms of preparing for end of game situations.
It is very important to not assume that your players know what to do! Try to work on special situations every day.
Here are some questions all coaches should ask themselves. The answers will vary according to your personal philosoply and your team's strengths.
- In a tie game, would you ever foul to get the last possession?
- Do you push the ball and play or call a timeout to set up the last shot?
- Is your team prepared to deny the ball to one great foul shooter?
- How do you intentionally miss a free throw?
- With a 3-point lead, do you foul before a 3-point shot is taken?
- Do your players know when to foul?
- Do you have a sign or call so your players know to foul witout alerting the other team?
- Do you have visual signs for all of your players to ensure communication in loud environments where verbal calls may not be heard?
- When do you start taking 3's in order to catch up? Do you have a hurry-up offense designed to get you quality shots in less time?
- Do you save your timeouts or do you use them eraly to keep you kids in the game?
- Do you have your list of special situation plays on the bench with you so you can refer to them in pressure situations?
For a great DVD from a great coach, check out Coach Morgan Wooten's DVD on Coaching to Win in Special Situations. Coach Wooten is the winningest high school coach in the history of basketball and one of my favorite coaching mentors.
Also, check out the X's and O's Basketball forum for both Rick Barnes and Morgan Wooten notes.