In the aftermath of our meltdown in the last two minutes of Saturday's game at North Park, Michelle and I have been brainstorming ideas for how to protect a lead.
Many System coaches just play through, trusting that the approach that got them the lead will keep the lead. I don't like this method for one simple reason: the System is based on numbers, playing the percentages. And the percentages only hold true with a large statistical population. In other words, over the course of a 100 possession game, yes, the odds favor you. Things even out. Over 5 posssessions at the end of a game, anything can happen: you could score 15 points, or you could give up 5 layups and get beat, with time running out before you have a chance to even the odds.
It's like flipping a coin; with 100 flips, chances are you'll get pretty close to 50 heads. But in 5 flips, you might very possibly get only one or two heads (and you'll never get 2 1/2). The more possessions, the better the likelihood of things going in your favor. The fewer the number of possessions, the more random the outcome. And I don't like random outcomes when we've spent 38 minutes building a 10 point lead.
That's why I'd prefer to limit the number of possessions late in a game, and wrap up the victory. Does this make me a System Heretic? No, Coach Arseneault does much the same thing, using his "finishing group" and taking longer to create a shot at whatever point he thinks he has enough of a margin to win. Game over.
So, we've done some tinkering about how we want to play this situaition. I won't go into details, because my attitude about this non-System stuff is "whatever works." Your ideas are probably as good as mine: some varation of holding the ball and playing more conservatively on defense, combined with getting certain personnel on the floor to wrap up the victory.
Bottom line: You are not a heretic if you "pull in your horns" near the end of the game. Use your best coaching judgment... win the game and go get some pizza.