Article-of-the-Month: At the Buzzer…..Good!!!!! (Was It Luck or Preparation?) 

At the Buzzer…..Good!!!!!

(Was It Luck or Preparation?)  Part  2

By Coach John Kimble

In the last few seconds of the close games, there seems to be more chaos and more up-tempo and changes of possessions take place more frequently and more rapidly.  Players’ ability seems to be more of a deciding factor in the outcomes of the games.  That is why in the first article, specific drills for last second situations were discussed and explained.  Along with improving the shooting and passing skills of players to execute those pressure packed plays must come some fundamentally sound offensive schemes that will place players into the proper positions where their offensive skills can be applied.  This article will explain and discuss different plays that must be used in the various offensive scenarios that could take place in games. These various scenarios involved the time, the score, and the location of where the ball is being taken out of bounds.  That location could be underneath the offensive team’s basket, the offensive team’s front court sideline, the back court sideline or the far baseline underneath the opposition’s basket.  Each location poses new problems for the offensive team that must be handled.  There should be a plan devised for each of these different situations.


These plays must be shown and discussed in players’ quiet comfort zones and in a good learning atmosphere of a practice, where there are no distractions and no pressure.  Once taught, these plays should be practiced frequently for short periods of time.  In practices, the various time and score scenarios are given for the players to learn, understand and practice what they should try to accomplish.  These plays should also be drawn out ahead of time and brought to each game to be available when needed in a timeout during a game.   A coaching staff must know the different circumstances and not only know beforehand how he is going to handle these critical decisions, but convincingly sell his philosophy to his players and then repetitively practice his players in game-realistic situations.

Full court last second shots can have two different scenarios.  The offensive team may or not be allowed to run the baseline.   Not being able to run the baseline takes away very important options that an offensive team can incorporate into their last second shot play.  After the opposition scores a last second shot, the current defensive team very frequently calls a quick timeout.  The rules in this scenario allow the offensive team to be able to run the baseline after the ball is taken out of bounds.

Diagram 1 illustrates a variation of an out-of-bounds play made popular by Coach Hubie Brown that is called “Homerun.”  This scenario allows the offensive team to be able to run the baseline.  01 is going to be the original “Trigger,” with 02 and 03 aligned near the mid-court time line, 04 initially aligns himself near the (original) ballside low post block in the front court and 05 starting near the (original) ballside low post block in the back court.  04 should break to the free throw line and look to catch the long throw by 01.  He/she could then either drive to the basket or turn around for a quick jump shot (remember Christian Laettner’s shot?)  If unable to get a good shot, he/she should “volleyball tap” the ball to either 03 and 02 cutting to the wing areas at the free throw line extended.  03 and 02 make a loop cut somewhere near the center jump circle and try to scrape each other’s defender off before cutting to the free throw line extended on the opposite side of the court from where they initially aligned.  If 01 does not make the immediate long throw towards 04 or if there is extreme pressure on him/her, he/she can run the baseline off of 05’s in-bounds screen to try to shake himself free (and possibly have 05 draw a foul) before throwing the long pass from the opposite side of the court.  If the plan is to first have 01 run the baseline, 04 must wait and time his/her cut to the free throw line later.  It is also prudent to tell the official before hand to watch for the foul when 05 sets his/her surprise screen.  Ideally, it is best to have 05 be a good free throw shooter as well as be able to throw long and accurately.

Another option could be for 05 to set the screen for 01 as 01 runs the baseline underneath the basket and to the left side (outside of the free throw lane extended) and looks to throw long to 04 from the opposite side of the court.  After setting the screen for 01, 05 then quickly step out of bounds (on the right side of the court.)  This makes 05 a legal and viable option for 01 to pass the ball, so that 05 can become the new long thrower and the new “Trigger” (to 04).  Many defensive coaches place their tallest defender on the ball to harass the “trigger,” so we have 05 run the baseline away from 01 to draw that defender away from him. Since a defender on 05 cannot go out of bounds to defend 05, we have 05 step out of bounds and receive a bounce pass from 01.  This pass should be a bounce pass because it is a slower pass and gives 05 more time to get completely out of bounds before receiving the pass.  05 cannot legally catch the pass as he is stepping out of bounds.  We also emphasize that whomever is the ultimate “Trigger” (01 or then 05) to step as far as they can away from the out-of-bounds line (to gain as much separation as they can possibly get from the immediate defender on them).  See Diagram 2.

Diagram 3 illustrates another form of the “Homerun” play with the basic form of the play being executed again.  This variation could be used especially if the “Trigger” cannot run the baseline (and therefore cannot throw to a teammate who has stepped out of bounds-01 threw to 05 in the previous diagrams.)  Therefore, all four teammates start in the front court and all four players are potential pass receivers and scorers.  With four receivers, this variation of the “Homerun” can be called “Grand Slam.”  02 and 03 diagonally stack up in the front court just off of the middle of the court.  05 becomes the only “Trigger,” with 01 starting immediately below the basket and 04 starting near the free throw line.  On a signal, 02 sets a back-screen for 03 to use as 03 flare-cuts to the free throw line extended on the left side of the court.  After setting the back-screen, 02 then also makes a flare-cut to the free throw line extended on the right side of the court.  04 sprints towards 01 to set a down-screen for 01 to break up just outside of the free throw lane line.  After setting the screen, 04 immediately seals off of his/her defender to look for the long pass from 05.  If 04 does not have a (high percentage)  ‘inside shot,’  he/she can look to make the tap towards either 03 or 02 as is done in the original “Homerun” variation.  01 remains as the fourth possible scoring option.  See Diagram 3.

A third play is described and shown in Diagram 4.  This can be executed when the time dictates that the coaching staff does not have to immediately take the shot and possesses extra timeouts.  The decision is to get the ball into the front court before then calling the second time out and setting up a front court sideline out-of-bounds play for the last second shot.  The possible threat of a long throw and immediate score still exists by the long cut off (by 04) of the back-screen set (by 01).  02, 01 and 03 align in horizontal straight line between the front court’s (imaginary) hash mark and the time line.  04 lines up in a vertical straight line with 01 just outside of the center jump circle. 04 makes a straight line vertical back-screen cut off of 01’s initial back-screen.  Since the ball is triggered from the offense’s right side, 01 and 02 then set horizontal staggered screens for 03 to utilize before then flare-cutting towards the sideline on his/her normal side of the court.  01 then reverses direction to set a (screen the screener) cross screen for 02 to flare-cut towards the right sideline.  If 05 cannot hit 04 for an open shot, 05 should look to hit either 03 or 02 near the sidelines inside the front court area so they can instantly call a timeout.  Two points of emphasis are for 03, 02 and 01 to make sure they stay in the front court and especially not catch the ball while crossing the time-line (for an over and back violation).  They should be taught to never hop as they catch the ball when they are near the time line.  The second major point is for one of those three players to inform the officials what they are attempting to do and warn them of the calling of the second timeout.  The second timeout should quickly be called and the coaching staff can elect the best play (that has been practiced beforehand) to use in that game’s situation (based on the score.)  See Diagram 4.

If there is adequate time left on the clock, Diagrams 5 and 6 illustrate a sideline out-of-bounds play that can then be executed once the ball is triggered from the front court sidelines.  All for receivers align in a tight horizontal stack on the same plane as the “Trigger.”  04 loops off of the back-screen set by either 05 or 03 and curls aggressively towards the basket for a possible lob pass.  After setting a screen, 03 then uses 01’s back-screen in  “screen the screener” action to cut hard to the ballside deep corner area.  01 breaks towards the backcourt, while 05 “posts up” near the sideline out-of-bounds “Trigger” (02). 02 has two immediate scoring threat options (04 and 03) and two safety passes (01 and 05.)  See Diagram 5.

Diagram 6 illustrates the next phase of movement in the play if the safety valve pass is used.    If 02 inbounds the ball to 01, 02 cuts quickly to the basket and through the lane off of 04’s pin-screen to the deep corner on the opposite side of the court.  01 then uses the ball-screen set by 05 before 05 then sets a down-screen for 03 as 01 dribbles towards the middle.  01 looks to penetrate and create the shot that is wanted (either a “2” or a “3”), dependent upon the time and score.  If 02 passes the ball to 05, 02 still makes the same cut and 01 then cuts to receive the handoff from 05 to attack the defense off of the dribble from the center of the court.  See Diagram 6.

Diagram 7 illustrates a different sideline out-of-bounds  play to be used with less time for possibly either a “2” or a “3” point shot.  05 is the out-of-bounds  “trigger,“ while 01 lines up at the ballside low post, 04 at the ballside high post, 03 at the weakside low post and 02 directly under the basket.   03 first sets a pin-screen for 02 to use to cut to the weakside deep corner area.  After 03 sets the pin-screen for 02, 01 then sets a pin-screen for 03 to break to the deep corner on the ballside.  After setting the pin-screen for 03, 01 receives a down-screen by 04 at the ballside mid-post area.  This places 03 and 02 in the deep corner areas and 01 at the top of the key with all three perimeter players (01, 02 and 03) outside of the three-point line, with 04 being a possible inside scoring threat on the ballside mid-post. An inside shot for 04 is possible, 3 point shots for either 03 or 02 are available and the opportunity for 01 to “create” is also available. See Diagram 7.

It must be emphasized that these plays or any last second shots will be much more effective if the coaching staff decides on the schemes in the pre-season and has them in their offensive repertoire.  They then must be practiced periodically in practices with game-like situations created for the plays to be effective in a real game.

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