A message for coaches

I understand the value of cherishing every possession in basketball. I also recognize a need for balance.

Two thoughts are interwined as I reflect on last week's boys' basketball showdown between state-ranked St. Joseph-Ogden and Teutopolis teams.

There was a first-half scramble -- which took place after visiting Teutopolis had used both of its 30-second timeouts -- when players from both schools dove for a loose ball. T-Town gained momentary control and as a SJ-O player came close to forcing a jump ball, the Wooden Shoes called for a timeout.

It may have seemed like the thing to do at the moment, but games aren't won at that juncture of the contest. They can sure be lost then.

That point was reinforced with 11 seconds to play in what was a two-time lead for SJ-O. Teutopolis (which had made 9 of 11 fourth-quarter shots) had the ball near the top of the key. The Spartans created a double-team and the Teutopolis ballhandler responded the way many young players have been taught.

He called a timeout. Let the coach fix it. Let him set up a game-winning play. Isn't that the American way?

Only problem was Teutopolis had exhaused all five of its timeouts. Not only did the team lose possession, but SJ-O's top free throw shooter (Nate Michael) got to attempt two uncontested shots after the technical foul was assessed. He made them both, plus two more when he was fouled after the subsequent in-bounds pass.

In my opinion, coaches need to provide the players the confidence to react to situations as a game unfolds, to make decisions on their own and not rely on a coach  to tell them what to do when the game is on the line.

By the way, on the possession Teutopolis gained in the second quarter with the timeout: It didn't result in any points. The team turned the ball over before a shot could be attempted.

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