Some Endgame Notes

I coached two basketball games today, and won both in the final seconds in very different ways.  The two endgame scenarios and how they played out illustrate the mixture of tactics and luck that determine close games. 

Early in the day my AAU team fell behind 16-1 in the opening minutes of our final game of group play.  We showed great resilience fighting all the way back to hold a 53-52 lead in the final minute.  We committed a foul that tied the score at 53 and couldn’t score on the other end.   Time out.  In an act of virtually unforgivable stupidity, I misread the scoreboard and thought we had committed only four fouls in the half meaning we had two fouls to give with 13.9 seconds left.  I instructed the team to commit a non-shooting foul of we had the opportunity.

We did at 9.4 seconds left, but the foul was actually our 7th and put them on the line shooting 1 and 1.  By the grace of God, they missed and after a scramble we secured possession and called time out with 4.9 seconds left.  We drew up a play anticipating that our opponent would be up on the ball as we inbounded at 3/4 court.  Our opponent played off the ball, but we through over the top anyway and appeared to have lost the ball.  We got a deflection, a fortuitous bounce and Elijah Grooms hit a 35 foot three at the buzzer to win.

Fouling was not the smart play, and it was done because I did not know the team foul situation, but it put the ball in our hands to shoot and win the game.  We needed toany things to happen…a missed free throw, a rebound, recover a loose ball and hit a bad shot at the buzzer.  It all worked.

In our Pro Am game this afternoon, we crapped away a 17 point 4th quarter lead and held a 3 point lead with 21.9 seconds left.  With that much time left, we decided not to foul, but to run them off the three point line.  It worked as they scored a quick two and fouled again.  Alex Castillo hit both to restore a three point lead.  Time out with ten seconds left.  Again we considered fouling, but opted to run them off the line.  They took the bait and drove to the basket to take the two, and we nearly fouled creating a potential and 1, but the shot rolled out and found it’s way to the corner for a wide open three as we lost out match ups in the chaos.  The open corner three rattled out, we rebounded, and made two free throws clinch the game.

In opting to defend instead of foul, we kept the three point shot in play and conceded an open look, but got lucky with a miss.

The best we can do in these tense moments is to believe in each other, commit to and execute our plan of action and accept the result.

2 thoughts on “Some Endgame Notes

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