Tournament Potpourri: Strategies, Observations and Suggestions

1. Coaching Strategies to Win A Tournament Championship

In order to win a tournament a team is going to have to win 3 or 4 games (depending if you have a prelim game). If you play 3 or 4 games you probably can count on having one bad night by the law of averages…. shooting, floor game, foul trouble, turnovers, etc. To win a tournament you have got to survive that bad night. It is better to play poor and win then to play great and lose in a one and done tourney situation.

A team will also have to be able to play well in the half-court because at any basketball level good teams will make you play in the half-court. This means you must have a good set offense to be able to get good high percentage shots and to get to the foul line.

You have got to play to win, not play to lose in a tournament game, especially if you are a high seed team that is expected to win.Teams have got to think that the ‘glass is half full not half empty’ to be in a positive attitude to hang in there….as the old saying goes. “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going”.

If you get behind big at half-time come out and play a zone if you have been playing man to man. See if the opponents are greedy and want to bury you.

Going zone will see if they will “shoot you back into the game”. This has worked for me over the years. What is that old saying, “:Live by the 3, die by the 3”.

Defenses wins tournaments, offenses loses tournaments.

2. Coaching Strategy to Pull a Tournament Upset

If you are a low seeded team  (6th,7th or 8th) you are psychologically in a better position then the higher seeded team you are playing. The high seed has more prssure, they are expected to win, you are not. Especially if you have lost to that team twice during the regular season. Also, probably your opponents are more athletic then your team. So the first thing you should think about doing is to take and nuetralize their athletic ability.

In order to do this you must limit their number of offensive possessions during the game. Get them to rush more on offense and to become frustrated on defense in order to get them to foul more.

To do this you must control the tempo of the game. You must slow the game down in order to take their athleticism away. There are two choices if you are facing man to man defense, especially if you are an 8 seed playing the top 1 seed or a 7 playing a 2. 

Run a continuity offense and look for NOTHING BUT LAYUPS and foul shots or go Four Corners and look for nothing but layups and foul shots. If the defense is playing zone then hold the ball and when they come out to attack you attack the pressure and only take layups and foul shots.

This takes  discipline, but the hardest thing is to get your team to understand why you are doing this. This will give your team a chance to win.

You have got to make your players to understand that if they take a shot other than a layup or a foul shot then they are coming out of the game even if they make the shot. They will sit until someone else takes a shot other than a layup or a foul shot.

You have got to practice this layup-foul shot game.

On defense, you should play a 1-3-1 zone as this will slow down the opponents offense. Also, it leaves the corners open for threes which is the lowest shooting percentage area on the floor and 90% of the missed shots go to the opposite side of the basket of the rim. If their postman comes ball side and does not get an entry pass then he is out of position to get an offensive rebound on shots from the corners

The one – three – one zone covers the wings and the top of the circle and the paint and takes away those shooting areas..

Try to keep the ball on offense as long as you can until you get a layup. Playing this much defense by your opponents will frustrate them and they will committ more fouls and will rush their shots on the offensive end because they haven’t had the ball much.

When playing a stronger opponent you need to make big changes both offensively and defensively.

Shot selection is the key and the shots you want to take are layups only.

3.  Radio Broadcasters and Color Commentators Reminders

Having listened to many  tournament games on the radio over the years, I would remind the game broadcasters  to please, pretty please, give the game score and time left in each quarter more often. Commentators, please let us know what kind of defenses and offenses are being played, and is in foul trouble. Also, when wrapping up games could we have stats on shooting percentages, turnovers and rebounds etc

Remember please, you are there and we are not. We have  to rely on your comments to know what is going on in the game.

Sometimes  it is hard to listen to the game and know  what is really going on the court…we are not watching the game on TV.

 4. Observation: : What is the most popular man to man offense? How many coaches yell out to their teams on offense……MOTION?  In officiating at all levels I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard a coach at any level elementary thru College yell out to his team “run…MOTION”. These coaches must have all gone to the same basketball clinic as many teams run this 1-2-2 continuity offense. Count the number of times you hear or see this offense being run in tournament games.

 5. Observation: Officials: Relax, enjoy yourselves. Don’t worry about getting the next game assignment.Concentrate onn the game your  doing. All coaches, players and fans care about is that you get your calls correct.

6. Suggestion to the MPA. Why do the  tournaments have the same schedule of games year after year? Is it fair that Classes A B have to play on the first Weekend every year? If they are in a prelim game on Tuesday and Wednesday,it does not give them much time to prepare for the tourney as C and D. In fact, if you are some of the B and A teams you only have one or 2 days to prepare if you are in the prelim  ls it fair class C has to play back to back Friday Semi-finals and Saturday Finals year after year. Why not rotate the teams by playing them on a rotated basis every 3 years and that would really be fair. Something to think about?

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