With tourney time looming, it’s time to address basketball strategy.
The first one is to “foul or not to foul.” This occurs when a team has a three-point lead with less than 10 seconds to go in the game and is on defense.
I have not seen any team immediately foul on the inbounds throw-in by trying to steal the ball and then foul, putting the offense on the foul line.
What you see are teams just playing straight up and hoping that the offense doesn’t throw up a prayer that is answered as the ball goes in for a 3-pointer and forces overtime.
Many times this momentum in overtime carries that team on to a win.
We always fouled in this situation. If we could not foul on the throw-in, then we would try to steal the ball when the player with the ball was dribbling and if we did not get the steal we would foul the dribbler.
Now the offensive team must be successful on four consecutive things.
They have to make the first foul shot, miss the second foul shot, get the rebound and score to tie the game.
I have never seen this done successfully.
I have seen several big -time college and NBA coaches not foul in this situation and it amazes me that they don’t foul and put the pressure on the four straight successes needed to tie the game compared to just one lucky shot in the last 10 seconds.
Another thing that I have observed is that teams often have a problem identifying the type of defense that is being played against them.
We always went to a double stack low at the low block on each block and this allowed four of our players to be below the defense being played and if it was a zone then it was very easy for them to identify the zone, and the point guard sees the defense from in front of it.
If the defense is playing man-to-man then you would see eight players, four offensive and four defensive players at the block, four on each side and this tells you it is man-to-man.
This saves a timeout and the players can go to whatever offensive setup they use against that defense.
Speaking of saving timeouts, it also bewilders me when coaches or players attempt to call a timeout in order to avoid a jump ball or a throw-in, closely guarded or 10-second violation.
Because teams only get three 60-second timeouts and two 30-second timeouts per game, it is not wise to waste timeouts trying to avoid violations as they are not any worse than a turnover or a missed shot.
If coaches want try to save their timeouts for when they are really needed, then they can install the following system. They should have traffic light colors which allow their players to call a timeout to avoid a jump ball or a violation.
In the jump-ball situation, a team has a 50-50 chance of having the possession arrow, so why call a timeout in that situation unless it is really late in the game.
Coaches should use three colors, red, green and yellow to let their players know when they can call a timeout in the game.
Red means do not call a timeout under any situation, green means you may call a timeout and yellow means you may call a timeout if it is in the last two minutes of a close game.
As the team breaks for a timeout or between periods, the coach yells out the color for the timeouts and the players repeat the color together.
These three special strategies are simple and can be put into action without too much trouble.
A final strategy that may be more difficult to employ is for teams to hire three officials for at least their last three home games in order to prepare their players for postseason play, which utilizes three officials instead of two.
Even back when just two officials were used, our scorebooks usually showed that more fouls were called in the postseason than the regular season. With three officials, more fouls were always called in the postseason.
If I was coaching today, I would hire three officials for all my home games. I even hired three back in the 1970s when three-person officiating first came about. The cost per season for a varsity team would be no more than $300 and that is a small investment to get the team ready for postseason.
I like the use of three officials because I feel that what is not called affects the game more than what is called and six eyes are better than four.