Opening night of the college basketball season gave us another painful reminder that you can never practice time and score enough.
Stony Brook started their season at George Washington by missing their first 18 shots and falling down 22-0. They came back and won the game, which is an incredible story if that was the whole story.
Stony Brook cut the lead to 3 in the final seconds, and GW had to enter after a made basket and a time out. GW tried to pass the ball out of bounds along the baseline, and a Stony Brook player stepped in and stole the pass – a violation that resulted in a technical foul. Not a play you see every night.
GW made the technical free throw and now had the ball with a 4-point lead. They inbounded and got fouled with just under 10 seconds left to play. They were headed to the FT line up 4 with under 10 seconds, and they were going to lose the game.
GW missed both free throws, and then incredibly fouled the Stony Brook ball-handler as he dribbled the ball up the floor. I was literally about to switch to another game, and I saw the foul and thought “wouldn’t it be amazing if they found a way to lose this game?” Literally at this point if they had let Stony Brook dribble the length of the floor and lay the ball in they would have likely won the game – more time off the clock, an easier inbound situation after a made basket. But the foul stopped the clock and allowed Stony Brook to set up their pressure after the free throw.
Stony Brook made both free throws to cut it to 2, then forced a 5-second violation on the inbound attempt. GW couldn’t get the ball inbounds. Stony Brook than got a tip-in at the buzzer to tie it, and went on to win the game in overtime. As if it couldn’t get worse, GW went 3-12 from the FREE THROW line in OT.
I cringe when I watch games like this, because I know they can happen to any of us. But it’s a great reminder to practice some version of your time and score package every single day. You want your kids to feel as comfortable as possible in those game ending situations, and you see kids lose their minds all of the time. Why would GW even go near the ball-handler up 4 with 8 seconds to play? It’s completely irrational, but it happens all of the time.
So practice your time and score stuff every single day. It doesn’t take long, you don’t have to get too elaborate. But put your kids in those situations and see how they react. Even when you do, you’ll still see your players do unimaginable things at the end of close games, because the pressure is just different. They lose their minds.
But if you handle those moments in practice, you’ll be much more comfortable at the end of close games.