March 4, 2005, Newsletter Issue #204: COMING FROM BEHIND LATE IN THE GAME

Tip of the Week

When you are behind late in the contest, you need to be thinking of ways to extend the game. To do that use strategies to create more possessions. You may need to play a little faster than usual. This does not mean that you play out of control, but rather with a greater sense of urgency. Every second that you save may be the crucial second that you need to make that last second shot.

You should pass or dribble up the court quickly, rather than walking the basketball up the floor. After made baskets by the opponent, get the ball back inbounds quickly. On throw-ins when the clock is stopped, if there is no defense, let the ball roll up the court (since the clock does not start until the ball is touched).

It is not always necessary to take quick perimeter shots. Instead, drive to the basket and make the opponent defend. Their coach has probably been telling them not to foul. You may get quick and easy scores and if they do foul, you can put points on the board while the clock is stopped. Then crash the offensive boards.

Turn up the heat defensively. Force them to play a quicker pace with your defense. Depending upon the point differential, you may need to just get a few stops or you may need to create some turnovers and gamble for some steals. Either way, remember it is usually defense that triggers a comeback.

The more often that you can stop the clock the better. Score and call time out. Substitute after your free throws to set your defense. When the opponent is taking their time getting the ball in, coaches can use time outs after made baskets to stop the clock.

If they have a poor free throw shooter think about fouling to force them to shoot from the line in hopes that they miss. Even if they make both, you are in the same boat as if they had scored, but you have at least saved the time of the whole possession. This stage should not be entered too soon, but at some point you will recognize that the opponent is taking too much time during their possessions to allow you enough time to come back.

Once you are in this "foul mode" and you are going to foul anyway, don`t wait for too much time to run off of the clock. If you score give your pressure defense a chance to steal a pass or two, and then foul. Once it gets really late in the game and every second matters, then foul immediately upon the inbounds pass. At this stage in the game when your team misses a shot go for every offensive rebound with the intent to get the rebound at all costs. If you foul, you were going to do that anyway and you`ll stop the clock immediately. You`ll be surprised at how many offensive rebounds the team gets and the official does not call the foul.

All of these methods need to be practiced, along with any special last minute plays, so that the players are prepared for the situation. This preparation will also give the players the confidence that they have the ability to comback, even against the longest of odds.

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