To Foul or Not to Foul

This is one of those debates where it could go on and on and on. But nevertheless, it's one of those situations that arise every year and like the debates, the controversy rages on and on. Last year, it was Xavier vs Ohio St., Xavier had a 3-point lead with 9 seconds to go. Ohio St. rebounded the missed free-throw, came down the floor and Ron Lewis hit the game tying 3-pointer. Ohio St. would go on to win the game in overtime.

Here's the situation:

So, we'll set the stage again (but not exactly like the Xavier/Ohio St. game). Your team has been leading for most of the game, it's the fourth quarter and your team is up by 3. At one point, your team was up by 15 in the second half, but they've been playing pressure defense most of the second half and chipped away at the lead.

The other team has scored on consecutive 3-pointers while you have missed the last 2 shots. The clock says there are 38 seconds left in the game and you have possession. You bring the ball up the court and are able to get it across half successfully and after using up almost all 30 seconds of the shot clock, your forward takes a shot but misses. The other team calls a timeout.

There are now only 9 seconds left on the clock and you are still up by 3, the other team will inbounds from the half-court. Do you foul them or do you play straight up defense.

Another wrinkle, when the clock was still at 38 seconds, do you try to get a quick score before the clock ticks down to 30 seconds?? Or do you play out the shot clock as described above?

My Answer:

So, like I said, this is one of those situations that can be debated either way over and over.

What I would do is foul before the other team shoots. Especially if their team has hit a couple of 3-pointers. But I think I still foul even if we've been trading misses. Much also has to do with how confident you are in your own team's free-throw shooting. If you foul, and they hit their free-throws, and you miss yours, you'll only be up by 1 worst case.

To be honest, there are very few high-school teams that I trust have very good pressure free-throw shooters. From what I've seen recently, there are usually only 1 or 2 really good free-throw shooters, so I'd much rather take my chances on them shooting from the line then allowing them to shoot the 3, even if we defend the 3 well.

What is your opinion on fouling at the end of the game to preserve the lead?

Go over the Coaching Basketball Forum to discuss.