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Friday, March 25, 2016

Fast Five: Winning the Close Game

There is a magic formula for being a better coach - start by acquiring and developing better players. That doesn't mean you'll have better people around you, because sometimes you have a less agreeable individual in the mix. 

But coaches get recognized like Bear Bryant, "he can take your'n and beat his'n, or his'n and beat your'n." Why? They're prepared for special situations. 

  1. You need an offensive and defensive delay game. Whatever your 'call', you need players to understand when and how to shorten the game (leading) and extend the game (steals, fouling, faster play) when trailing. Another pet peeve of mine is a team leading a relatively close game and a player (in my town) comes down and immediately jacks up a shot. Minus 100 in the respect column. It's a coaching problem.
  2. What are your 'go to' plays in a MUST SCORE situation - BOB, SLOB, versus man and versus zone? 
  3. Free throws. We've all seen teams win or lose at the line. It's exhilarating. It's maddening. Local hoop guru Tom Hellen has a saying, "teams that can shoot free throws do as well in the post-season as dogs that chase cars." I believe in "practice pressure" free throws where you can say anything or do anything to the shooter except touch or obstruct. 
  4. Can you value the ball under pressure? You've got to get the ball in, advance, and protect the ball. Do you have an inbounder that makes great decisions and can execute? Fans and coaches will remember the Texas A&M and Northern Iowa game forever for that ending. We play 5 against 7 (or 8) for just that reason. 
  5. Don't waste timeouts. Carolina's Dean Smith always tried to have three timeouts for the final four minutes. That reminds me of Coach Nick Saban's admonition, "invest your time, don't spend it." 

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