Players must learn to create scoring chances and about clock and game management. They can only develop these skills with realistic game situations incorporating decision-making with time pressure. Coaches should never assume that players ‘know’ to make the right play at the right time.
We expose our players regularly to end-of-game situations with 5, 10, and 30 second games, with either the score tied, or the team leading or trailing by 0-3 points. With regular practice, players learn to ‘make plays’ without having to run specific plays. We feel their ‘basketball IQ’ improves faster this way.
For example, using a sidelines out of bounds set, we challenge the offense to score with the game tied and five seconds remaining. The first emphasis in the situation is to inbound the ball safely. Second, for practice purposes, we challenge the point guard (1) to get open and receive the ball. Before the play, we ask her to get open either without or with an off-the-ball screen. The players know that we expect good defenses will bring weak-side help to help protect the ball-side blocks and elbows. Third, we expect the guard to look for one of several options:
- penetration with option to drive and kick to whomever becomes open first with minimal time remaining
- quick post entry, preferably to a post who has ‘sealed’ her defender
- the high post setting a screen for the inbounder who cuts to an open spot
- the high post slipping the screen for a quick pass and shot
As our players improve using the basic options, we add in weak side movement.