FSN's Mary Murphy Gives Her U.S. Bank 'Tip of the Week'

Feb. 21, 2007

Here is your 'Tip of the Week' from Fox Sports Net (FSN) basketball analyst and former college basketball coach, Mary Murphy.

The execution of a last-second play for a winning basket is exciting to see and even more exciting when you replay it and understand just how the play worked.

'Special situations' are moments in a game when a coach understands her team's need for something unique or extraordinary. Today's 'tip of the week' is the recognition and appreciation for the 'special situations' that take place in each basketball game. 'Special situations' are out-of-bounds plays, end-of-the-half and end-of-the-game plays. It can be a defensive adjustment; a trap keyed off a first pass or a dribble, a run and jump situation, something to distract a ball-handler right before half-time to cause a turnover and create some points.

Coaches practice 'special situations' every day in practice and during pre-game shoot around. When the time comes and your team needs three points with five seconds to go in the game, things work best if the play being run has been practiced a multitude of times. Preparing for these moments can be cumbersome because by the end of a game your best player may have fouled out. It is important that your top 8-10 players know how to run the play, what adjustments to make if they get on the floor and the defense is running zone defense instead of man-to man.

There are teams that consistently execute their 'special situations.' They score points when they run inbounds plays under the basket or on the sideline. They run stunts off missed free throws and are able to grab valuable offensive rebounds. They 'surprise' teams as they come out of a timeout and with a simple change in their defensive scheme--man-to man to zone, or half-court pressure to full-court trapping...forcing a moment of indecision and possibly a turnover, points and a change in momentum.

A basketball game is forty minutes of back and forth action. Teams that make a habit of winning close games do it because they know how to execute at critical junctures. It is no accident. It takes hard work, focus, confidence, teamwork and imagination to excel in 'special situations.'

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