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End-of-game basketball situations.

End-of-game situations are commonplace in basketball. Whether your team is up or down by a few points, both you and your team have to be prepared for the wild closing moments that mark so many games.

Common things to remember when coaching end of game situations:

1 How many timeouts do you and the opponent have? Are they full or 30 second timeouts?

2 What is the team foul situation? Are you or the opponent over or below the limit? Who is shooting 1-and-1 or 2-shot fouls?

3 What is the individual foul situation? Who is in foul trouble? Is your best player or the opponents' best player in foul trouble? The best ball-handler? The best rebounder?

4 How many possessions are left in the game based on time left, the opponents' style of play; do they shoot quickly or slow down?

5 Are your players prepared to foul on purpose to stop the clock but without committing a flagrant foul? The term I use when my team wants to foul on purpose is "going for the ball." You don't want to be called for a flagrant foul that allows the opponent to keep the ball.

6 Don't foul their best shooter. On the other hand, you want the ball in your best shooter's hands whenever you are fouled.

7 Who gets the next alternate possession? Be aware of which direction the arrow is facing.

8 Do you have any special scoring plays for end-of-game situations?

We practice the situations that will occur at end of games. You can use the scoreboard clock if available or just count the seconds out as play continues. There are just too many of these situations to practice. I would start with the accompanying five situations. The important thing to remember is to have your team prepared for all of them.

Situation #1: Up by 4 points with 1 minute to play. You have the ball. You have two full possessions left to run the shot clock down. However, the opponent will probably foul you or try to steal the ball. You want to keep the ball moving.

I tell my team it is hard to foul someone who doesn't have the ball. Don't hold the ball for a long time, get rid of it, but make sure you pass to a teammate correctly. If you get fouled, it will be a 1 and 1.

You might tell your team to only take a lay-up--no low-percentage jump shots that will give the opponent a chance to get the ball back. If your team goes to the foul line, you obviously want to make the shots.

After the shots are taken, do not stop the clock, or commit an over-the-back foul. Make the opponent pass the ball, take time off the clock defensively. As the clock winds down, make adjustments based on the situation (up 2, 1, down 2, 1, etc.) and finish off the game.

Situation #2: Down by 4 points with 1 minute to play. Pretty much the opposite of above, except you don't have to shoot 3's here. You have at least 2 possessions in the game. You can get a lay-up.

I tell my team that the opponent doesn't want to foul you, so we can probably get a lay-up. If you have to stop the clock, go for the ball, don't commit a 2 shot foul. Try to get a steal before fouling. Know how many time-outs are left. Make your adjustments and finish the game.

Other situations to consider:

Situation #3: 10 seconds left-up or down by 1. Up by 1, try to run the clock out, don't make high risk passes, keep the ball in your best free-throw shooters' hands, know what to do after you shoot the foul shots: do not foul, what defense are you playing, make the opponent pass the ball to take time off the clock.

Two more situations that will occur in games:

Situation #4: 3 minutes left in game, up by 10. Do you delay the game, "milk the clock," or continue to attack the basket?

Situation #5: No timeouts left, up by 5 or down by 5, 45 seconds on clock.

End-of-game situations are important parts of the game. Work on the principles; they will prepare you for the end of the game. Good luck!

By Jeff Risener,

Boys Varsity Basketball Coach

Roslyn (NY) High School
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Title Annotation:Basketball
Author:Risener, Jeff
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2004
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