September 20, 2009 • 3-PointFeaturesOffensePlaysWinning Hoops

Ready for anything: A full-court play with 1 second on the clock

Coaches, especially young ones, often don’t spend enough time game planning for specific situations. You need to be ready for anything when you’re on the basketball court, which is an important lesson I learned from studying the likes of Morgan Wooten and Dean Smith, both of whom are in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

No matter what team you’re playing against, you have the potential to be down late in the game. Don’t be so overconfident that you haven’t planned for this scenario. If you are down eight to 10 points with two minutes left, ask yourself three questions:

  1. Do you have your catch-up game ready to use?
  2. Do you know your team’s best ball handlers, passers and foul shooters?
  3. Do you have a strategy for everything?

When you’re prepared, you’re confident, which translates to your team being confident, even if you’re down late in a contest. Being prepared also means having plays in place for specific situations, such as the one below. This is good to use if you are down two or three points with just a second or two left on the clock.

‘Home run’ last-second, full-court play

Home run is a great play to run when you need a 3-pointer and only have a second or two to go the length of the floor.


DIAGRAM 1: The play begins with 4 as your best “baseball” passer. 4’s job is to make sure the baseline is clear and to keep the on-the-ball defender as far off the baseline as possible.

4 needs to ask the referee to have the defender give space, which also buys time for the players to get set on the other end. This play is designed for 2 to get the shot but makes it appear to the defense that 3 is going to be the first option.


DIAGRAM 2: Players 2, 1 and 5 all screen for 3. Be sure that 2, 1 and 5 have a bit of space between them to keep the defenders close, otherwise the defenders simply play the outside.

With the defenders close, 2, 1 and 5 step into their screens toward 3. This closes the gaps and doesn’t allow any defenders to shoot the gap and go for a steal. 3 comes off the triple screen and clears to the ball-side 3-point area.


DIAGRAM 3: As soon as 3 comes off 1’s screen, 1 screens for 2. 2 cuts underneath the screen and pops out to the weak-side 3-point area, where he or she should be wide open. After setting the screen, 1 steps high to the top of the key with hands held high.

4 has the option to pass to any of the three players now outside the 3-point line, but 2 is the main option.