Do you call timeout or let them play?
My assistant jumped up behind me and was saying timeout, timeout, timeout just loud enough for me to hear. I said, "let them play".
Let Them Play
This situation happened to me when I was coaching in Revere a few years ago. I opted to "let them play," because I knew my team. My best player had the ability to create on his own and we had practiced this scenario in practice several times before. I try to practice game situations like last minute plays, buzzer beaters, and other siutations to prepare us for this type of situation.
We ran a brush screen and then cleared out the left side of the court. Sounds simple, but this was all our player needed. If he got doubled teamed, then he would hit the player off the brush for an open shot (our best shooter). If his man stayed with him, then he would have a 1 on 1 situation and a clear out. His man actually sagged off him a few steps, because he was afraid to get beat to the basket. Mistake. A quick hesitation dribble, followed by a pull up jumper and SWISH! We won a huge game and it worked out this time. However, it doesn't always work this way and I still believe you have to know your team in this situation.
I have coached other teams where I would say "TIMEOUT" and run a scripted play we practiced.
In a recent 2nd round NCAA tournament game, Bruce Weber decided to "let them play". Maybe he knew his Kansas-State team too. The team grabbed a rebound and was down 63-61 to LaSalle. His point guard, Angel Rodriguez, had the ball and was rushing up the right side. It was a little bit chaotic, but a ball screen was set and 2nd ball screen was set by the same player. Rodriguez dribbled toward the baseline out of control with about 4 seconds to go and threw up a wild shot at the buzzer. In the background (watch the clip for yourself), Weber was trying to call a timeout, but it came too late as the player was already in a shooting motion. Everyone I was watching the game with yelled "call timeout, call timeout sooner". You can make that argument in this case, because the shot did not fall. However, it does not mean it is always the right decision.
I believe the coach has to know his/her players in this situation. I have seen teams "call timeout" in some cases only to take an awful shot and I have also seen plays develop like Tyus Edney's buzzer beater against Missouri in 1995. I have seen teams "let them play" and take a shot like Bruce Weber's Kansas-State team this year to lose the game and let them play to hit a buzzer beater shot.
I say, you know your team better than anyone and you make the call that you feel is best in that moment. Just make sure you prepare for these situations beforehand.
Now you make the call.....Timeout or Let Them Play?
Always remember, "hard work beats talent, if talent fails to work hard"