Friday, July 1, 2011

Late in the Game - Pass to the Unexpected (Yet Capable)

I am in the middle of watching Hubie Brown's Secrets of Winning Basketball Volume 1 and in it he was talking about the Lakers beating the Spurs with .4 seconds left on Derrick Fisher's shot, see the video below.

What jumped out to me in this was the thought that instead of trying to force feed the ball to your stud, sometimes it's better to run a play for your good shooting role player to get the last shot. Every coach, and more importantly every player, on the other team is going to do what they can in a last second situation to guard your stud(s). If you run a play for your stud, they are going to be looking for that type of play and will likely be ready with plenty of help. If on the other hand you use your stud as a decoy and run some misdirection with him, you can get a good shooting role player open for a better shot.

Many teams through the years have used this strategy at the highest levels. Guys like Robert Horry, Derrick Fisher, Toni Kukoc, and Steve Kerr have made a living out of hitting big shots at the end of a game and it's worked well for their teams to go to them.

Along the same lines, there are times in late game situations that your stud has to know when to give the ball up to your role player. A great example of this is in Game 6 of the 1997 NBA finals when Jordan gave it up to Kerr as Stockton, who was guarding Kerr, doubled Jordan. In the video below, there is even mention of Jordan remembering a previous situation where Stockton left Kerr and stole the ball on the double team. Now your players might not have a memory like Michael, but your best player should understand that if the ball is in his hands he may have to give it up for the good of the team.

Now, I am in no way saying you shouldn't look to go to your stud at the end, I mean why wouldn't you want your best player taking the last shot? How many shots have guys like Jordan, Paul Pierce, and Kobe made over the years? Countless ones. Also, as a high school coach, you may not have the luxury of having a good shooting role player - your stud may be your only shooter/scorer. In that case you feed him the ball and roll with it. All I am merely saying that it might not be a bad idea to go away from the obvious in the end of a tight game once in a while.

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