It is the 4th quarter, the other team has the ball and my team is down by 4. We have 4 fouls, and the other team isn't a very good free throw shooting team. I thought that I should have my team foul to get closer to the bonus. My assistants said not to though. Aren't I making the right decision? I had my team foul twice to get to 6 fouls. What would you do?

Tags: Late, game, situation

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I think that was a great idea to get close to the bonus.  then if you needed to use it to put them on the line you would be able to do it without wasting a lot of time.  The only issue is how much time was left on in the fourth.  I would not foul before  around the 2 min mark or so. If so it could back fire if you pick up to many fouls to early and give them to many FT (even a bad shooting team is bound to hit some). Also, do you play with a shot clock if so that would be something that would have to be thought about, if not then I think you made the right call. 


I agree with you in this situation.

I concur!  Maybe throw on a press and see if you can pick up some steals and/or fouls.  I also think waiting till below 2:00 minutes is probably a good idea.

I agree as well!  I am a BIG fan of full court presses in fourth quarter situations when my team is down. Most high school and younger teams rarely handle pressure well, let alone fourth quarter pressure with the game on the line.  Last year we went on a 16-0 run in the fourth and won the game with full court pressure and a 1-3-1 defense.  That was fun to watch!  

I would personally try to apply pressure and trap to generate turnovers and easy baskets as well as frustration for the other team before I start putting them on the line.  If your team isn't applying good pressure and or trapping correctly and those tactics just aren't working...then I would resort to the fouls as a last ditch effort!

  What was the result of the game? Did the decision work?  What did you learn as a coach from that decision?

I would amp up the defensive pressure and tell my team to be extra aggressive going after the ball. Then if you get a steal its great and if a foul is called it doesn't hurt. Sometimes this approach is more conducive to ensuring that your team is being proactive, still playing hard. It is a no lose situation, you get your foul situation to where you need it and/or you get more possessions with chance to even score or get ahead.

I think we need more info as suggested above. How much time is left and whether or not you use a shot clock would change the thinking. I agree with George about extra aggression. If you know going into the game that the opposing team is not good from the ft line, then I would come out aggressive from the start.

Hard to say whether it is the right decision. I would definitely say it is not a wrong decision. But this depends on so many factors, as others have pointed out.

I would always look how that specific four-point deficit came about, like were we down by 12 just four minutes ago or did we just give up a four-point lead. If you just surrendered a lead, I would definitely foul and send them to the line in hopes of swinging momentum back your way. If you already came back from a larger deficit and feel good about your team's groove, maybe you should just play it out. After all, all you need is two more stops than your opponent will get the rest of the way.

Like most things in coaching, it is purely a judgment call. I believe in consulting the assistants, but in the end the head coach is responsible and has to make a final decision, even if it means disagreeing about fundamental matters. After all, nobody will blame your teams' losses on the assistants, but you are going to have to take responsibility.

Don't just look to foul, tell players to play aggressive defense and attack the ball. Make the officials make judgment the call. I have had some officials not to make a call at all. 

I concur with the other coaches who favored full court pressing with more aggressive defense looking to create turnovers or get steals instead of fouling for the sake of fouling.  I might have waited until the 2.30 mark.  In conjunction with that I would be looking to attack the basket to get layups/and ones as opposed to shooting 3s to get back in the game.

How much time is on the clock? One thing i would try is full court man run and jump trap. Aggressive traps and shooting the gaps will create Turnovers. If you pick up a foul or two it wont hurt your team. Working hard will bring forth a move prideful energy.

Depends on how much time is left. Pressure the entry pass full court M2M. If you don't get the steal, just play solid, pressure defense. Most teams will turn the ball over or take a pressure shot under that scenario and you will get your looks. Make the other team beat you...and then make the most of your opportunities.

For every game where I have seen the "Hack-a-Shaq" work...I have seen or been part of a dozen where just executing your game plan works better. The most viewed highlight on YouTube last year was of a D1 Mens College Basketball game with Old Dominion, I believe, where their opponent came back from 10 down in the last 1:40 without fouling to win by 1. Now, the winning basket was a spectacular and unbelievable 3/4 court shot...but the message great defense and execute when you have the ball...and all leads are surmountable.

That is really a tough call that you, as the head coach, get to make.  In a normal game I don't know if I would do it, but if you really see the other team struggling from the line then it may be beneficial.  Honestly, you have a good defense for doing it, but it's one of those situations we as coaches have all been in:  You are either going to look like a genius, or an idiot. Haha. 

Personally, I would pick-up full court, trying to force a steal or a 10 second violation in the backcourt.  I would only foul in the frontcourt, but I would try trapping passes and being overly aggressive (and worst case senario get a foul) and only under 2 minutes.

What level?

Once you get to high school and players can consistently hit 60%+ of their free throws, getting in the bonus can really hurt you.

In junior high the overall FT% of your opponents is not likely to break 50%, so essentially putting them at the line for a 1-and-1 is almost like forcing a turnover.

(Obviously this is not true for all players; if you have no opportunity to pre-scout your opponents, pay close attention to their FT shooting in warmups or early in the game. It is usually not too hard to see who has decent form and can hit their FTs; obviously you want to try to avoid fouling those guys.)

I never (well, almost never) tell players to "go out and foul," because few players below HS age can convincingly 'fake it'; if you say 'go out and foul,' they karate-chop opponents in the arm and sometimes manage to get called for the virtually unheard-of intentional foul.

Much better is to explain the idea of 'maximum aggressiveness,' in which you go full-out for the ball, and if you happen to bump the opponent in the process, that's the way it goes.

Obviously it is important to make sure your top players do not get in foul trouble because few JHS teams have more than two or maybe three decent offensive players, and if one or more of those guys get in foul trouble which inhibits their playing time, that ends up costing you dearly on the offensive end.

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