Late Game Situations: Do you call a timeout?

As many times as I have heard this topic brought up today on television, I can only assume it has been the topic of water cooler discussions all across the country today. Why didn’t Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan call a timeout last night at the end of the game?

If you missed the game I will quickly bring you up to speed. After Syracuse missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Wisconsin corralled the ball down one (64-63) with 18 seconds remaining on the clock; and one timeout. After passing the ball around the zone a few times and eventually attempting to attack on the dribble, Jordan Taylor was left hurling long 3-pointer with 3 seconds remaining to win the game. Buzzer sounds and the Orange advance. Click here to see game highlights

Getting back to the question at hand: If you have the ball at the end of the game and you are losing, do you call a timeout or leave it in your pocket and let your players take the game into their own hands?

My philosophy is that I will always call a timeout. Mainly just to calm down my guys and get them out of a panicked mind-set. Additionally, I would like to make sure I have the correct players in the game and I am able to put them in the best position to win the game. Furthermore, I always prefer to have the ball at half-court. Even if there are five seconds left on the clock, there is still enough time to advance the ball quickly to half-court, call a timeout, and still have about 3 seconds remaining. Couple of thoughts on this:

  1. You take 47 feet out of play by putting the ball into the half-court.
  2. You get an additional 4.5 seconds to run a play before the ball has to be inbounded. Giving you 7.5 seconds to run a play.

Part of my philosophy has come from my obsession of the NBA and always trying to learn from the best coaches in the World. I cannot remember the last time I watched an NBA game and the coach did not call a timeout at the end of a game to draw up a play. But let’s get something clear, they aren’t just pulling plays out of the sky. Typically, these are plays that the team has practiced all season long. One thing that I learned from a current NBA coach is that he never draws up a new play during a game; avoiding any confusion or uncertainty. It is vital to set aside time in practice to at least walk through some end of game situations and new plays.

Consequently, this plan is not bullet proof. There is always the factor of not being able to get the ball back in-bounds. During my time at Florida, we lost to Tennessee twice on what seemed like the same play. Ball at half-court and the inbounds pass was stolen both times for a game ending lay-up. But as we all know, basketball is a game of strategy and numbers, I know the numbers are in my favor to get the ball inbounds.

I would love to hear your feedback. What is your philosophy regarding late game situations?

Please do not take this post out of context. I am by no means being derogatory towards Bo Ryan as a coach and saying that I am smarter than him. He has been to a Final Four and runs an extremely successful program in the Big 10. Ryan is not alone, this situation has already happened several times during the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

Keep bouncing…

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