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When the lead needs to be secured late in the game, coaches exercise their wisdom by utilizing an offense to shorten the game and give the trailing team fewer opportunities to score points.  While delay offenses have been around for years, they became hugely notable in the 1960's and 1970's thanks to the success of Dean Smith's North Carolina teams and their ability to close out close games late.

Advantages of Delay Offense

The delay game serves one purpose: giving the other team fewer chances to score by possessing the ball.  When a team is leading or is at a competitive disadvantage, a delay game can be effective in both regards.  If a team leads late in a game, holding the ball and running a delay offense will give the team trailing fewer possessions and less time to come back and steal the game late.

When it comes to playing against a team with superior talent, a delay game has been found to keep the game close and allow the team with the least talent the opportunity to be competitive.  In basketball, it has been shown that when teams with talent get into high-possession games, those teams will win those games.  To blunt this advantage, delay offenses have been used to keep the game close and allow teams with less talent the chance to win.

Disadvantages of Delay Offense

The only disadvantages with delay offenses are related to the tempo of the game.  First, if you are a fast-breaking team, the change from a fast tempo to a stall game can affect the comfort levels of your players.  You are playing at a fast tempo then telling your team to slow things down.  That will affect the mindset of your team over the course of the game.

The other is that when you are playing in a delay offense, the margin of error is small.  Some teams at the high school level will run the delay game as a strategy for the entire game.  When this happens, the need to score in the limited number of possessions rises and the ability to get away with turnovers reduces.

Using Your Primary Half Court Offense

One way that you can develop a delay offense is to use your half court offense.  The way in which this would be done is if you play for nothing but lay-ups, dunks, and jump shots at the end of the clock.  The call for this in our offense is "Biola".  When this call is made, it does not matter what our offense is, we are looking to run clock and take either a high-percentage shot or a shot at the end of the clock.

High Flex Offense

For teams that run the Flex Offense, the High Flex Offense is a great variation to take run clock and get backdoor lay-ups off of the screening action.  In Diagrams 1 and 2, the offense is shown from a 2-3 high set.  The continuity patterns remain the same as that of the normal flex offense with a back screen for the first cutter followed by a down screen for the player setting the back screen.

Diagram 1

Diagram 2

If at any moment the cut over the top is taken away, we will look to get the back cut off of the screen.  In Diagram 3, this occurs and we look to take advantage for the lay-up.

Diagram 3

Four Corners

The Four Corners offense was made famous by Dean Smith's teams at North Carolina.  The offense starts from a 1-4 high set with the wings breaking to the corners near the half court line while the posts fill the corners (Diagram 4).

Diagram 4

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