Call Timeout or Play On?

The Madness has ended and whether you watched as a fan or as a student of the game, there was a lot to take in the last few weeks.  One of the biggest topics of conversations always ends up being end of game situations.  Whether it be Coach Few’s decision to call timeout and tell his team to foul in the semi-final game or the Florida buzzer beater that went the length of the court without a timeout.  

The question remains:  Call timeout, or play on?

We came across this article that outlined the perspectives of top college coaches and found the variety and insight to be interesting for coaches of all levels.  


What coaches say:

Matt Figger, Associate Head Coach at South Carolina said, generally speaking, 12 seconds and under is usually a let-the-kids play scenario for South Carolina.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said often his first instinct is to refrain from calling timeout and see what develops.

”I’d let it go and watch and then be ready to scream timeout if it looks ugly but I want them to just play on and that’s what we practice,” Calipari said. ”I like to go home with timeouts. I like the players to work through their issues.”

South Carolina coach Frank Martin said he does have a few basic end-game guidelines.

”Any time we’re tied, I’m not calling a timeout. If we’re down one, probably not calling a timeout,” Martin said. ”That’s kind of the way we rehearse. If we’re down three, we’re going to foul, inside of 7, 8 seconds to go.”

Which brings up another point: It’s not just the team with the ball that has a decision to make. Wisconsin had a timeout Saturday night and maybe the Badgers would have been better off using it after Nigel Hayes’ go-ahead free throws and setting up their defense.

Florida assistant Darris Nichols said the Gators scout opponents’ offense tendencies well enough to know the ones that thrive on inbounds plays.

”A team that’s really good in that situation, why would you call a timeout and let them do what they’re really good at?” Nichols said.

In the end, though, all the strategy and planning often goes out the window.

”Sometimes you get a broken play and a guy jumps sideways off one foot and throws it over his shoulder and it goes in the net,” Martin said. ”You can rehearse a lot, but at the end of the day things have to go your way and breaks have to go your way. All of sudden we look a lot smarter when that happens than we really are.”