Closing Quarters - - The IQ Series

When you lose a game by 3 points, it’s easy to look at things that happened at the end of the game to decide the defining moments of the loss. No matter if someone missed a shot or turned the ball over late in the game, it’s easy to point to one play and say a certain player lost the game on his own. There are, however, many more factors that go into a loss besides 1 play in the last minute of the game. One of those factors is a teams ability to close quarters. Closing quarters efficiently can greatly effect the outcome. Let me give you an example. We lost by 3 a few weeks ago and had a shot to tie at the end of the game. Despite everything else that happened throughout the game, we failed end of quarter situations twice in the first half.

First quarter

We took a contested drive with 10 seconds to go, then allowed our opponent to hit a three before time expired. 5 point swing.

Second quarter

We turn the ball over with under a minute to go, then allowed our opponent to knock another three down after an offensive rebound. Again, 5 point swing.


So because of how we closed 2 quarters, there was a possible 10-point difference not in our favor. Even if we didn’t score, by ensuring that we took the last shot, we could have took away 6 points. And in a 3 point game, that means all the difference.


Time and Score - - The IQ Series

Throughout the season, there a plenty of opportunities to learn from each game. My goal this year is to share what I see with players to help develop your basketball IQ. The first topic will be time and score. The situation is this: there is 2 minutes left and your team is up by 4 points. What can you do to remain aggressive yet also remain under control? The common phrase is “playing not to lose.” This attitude can cause you to tighten up and make mistakes because you are only attempting to not make mistakes. Here are some tips from what I have witnessed this past week to help you maintain poise and finish the game with a win.

Amazing plays are unnecessary

Defensively especially. If you try and steal the ball by jumping the passing lane and do not make the play, your team is now at a disadvantage. This can lead to easy shots or most likely a foul and free throws for the other team. Even diving for a ball can be costly if you do not gain possession. Only make hustle plays that are 100% in your favor. If there is a chance you do not make the play, do the safe thing and contain your man to ensure a tough shot for your opponent.

Amazing shots are unnecessary

If you have to split defenders, double pump, or fadeaway, you probably shouldn’t take that shot. You most likely want to work the ball for a layup. Some coaches may be ok with a dependable shooter taking an open mid-range shot after a number of ball reversals. Jumps shots, in addition to not being as high-percentage as layups, also lead to long rebounds, which lead to easy transition baskets.

Ball fake

If you are up by 4 with 2 minutes left, the defense will be looking to jump passing lanes to get steals. Ball fake as you looking to pass to get the defense off balance. Turnovers and bad shots will lead to the other team coming back and making it anybody’s game.