When to Call the Timeout

I've often thought about this for a while since I started my coaching career. I usually watch college or NBA games on TV and wonder if I would call a timeout in that same situation. I'll try to think like the coach on TV and imagine the reasons why he/she called the timeout. Without further ado, I give you the situation.

Here's the situation:

Your in the final game of an 8-team invitational tournament. The team you are playing is very good, talent-wise just as good if not better than you. You've scouted this team before and you know their tendencies. They like to run a half-court trap and you've prepared your team to counter it before the game started.

It's the start of the first half and after a nervous start by your starters, the other team creates some turnovers off their trap and have started to build a small 6-point lead. Then suddenly your team breaks down offensively and turns the ball over 3 straight times and their lead is now 13 points. 6 minutes has gone by so far in the game.

Do you call the timeout? Or do you let your team play through it?

My Answer:

By no means is my answer right, but here is what I think.

My personal opinion is to call a timeout anytime our team has turned it over 3 straight times no matter what. I'm a big believer in momentum and anything I can do to try to stop the other team's momentum or reverse it to us is what I like to do. I will usually only save 1 timeout for the end of the game, because if the game is close I can usually talk to my point-guard during bonus free-throws.

I've watched a lot of games on TV and it seems that there isn't a universal timeout strategy. Coaches like Phil Jackson will choose to let his players play through and call a timeout as a last resort. Others like Gregg Popovich will call them early in the first quarter to change things up.

I've also coached alongside other coaches that always saved their timeouts. There was one game I was coaching with last season and the game was close into the third quarter until the other team's guard started killing us going coast-to-coast 3 straight times for dunks. I thought we should've called a timeout to talk about it but we didn't and ended up losing by 20. I don't know if the timeout would've made the difference, but I do think about it.

What is your opinion on timeout strategies?

Go over the Coaching Basketball Forum to discuss.