The Coaching Toolbox coaching staff started this post yesterday by writing about the poor handoff exchange that cost the Spurs a turnover and 2 points in Tuesday night’s playoff game. You might want to check out yesterday’s post to help put today’s in a little better context.
Your level of basketball might not play with a shot clock, but there are 3 shot clocks in high school basketball-the end of each quarter-where it is essential that your players execute in the manner you want them to. Then, there is the end of game clock management scenario to deal with. Regardless of which of those two scenarios you wish to apply it to, Kobe Bryant’s rushed shot at the end of the game that ran no time off of the game clock was a huge mistake. In just a few seconds, he took a game that was almost impossible to lose and turned it into a game of chance for the Lakers. If Kobe even runs 2 more seconds off of the clock before taking his bad shot, the controversial no call at the end isn’t even an issue. To me, the lesson is that we all must teach and drill and drill even the best and most experienced basketball players on clock management because it takes a great deal of talent to make up for poor clock management. As Coach Bob Knight says, “In basketball, the mental is to the physical as four is to one.” Clock management is a huge part of the mental game.
The third thing we took from the game is that you cannot put faith in the officials to make calls (even if they are obvious) in tight situations. We must coach our players to have a mindset to put the ball in the basket at the end of the game and not to rely on a foul call. As your players leave the huddle to line up for that last second play, they must be of the determined mindset that they are going to score even if the oncourt action resembles that old kids game of “scrubs and rummies” where there are no fouls. Our belief is that if the players expect a foul call, they are setting themselves up for failure. If they believe that they are going to be tough enough to score regardless of contact, they have no guarantee of succeeding, but they at least give themselves a chance.
In closing, this is not a criticism of any players, coaches, or officials involved. They are all at the top of their professions and unless we have been there, we have no idea of what it is like. My purpose in writing yesterday and today’s posts is to emphasize that we can be proactive and hopefully have a better mindset and purpose when we face the same situations at our levels of competition.