It’s not uncommon for coaches in one sport to turn to other sports for inspiration on how to do things. For example, a big talking point during England’s run to the World Cup semifinals in 2018 was how the team’s manager, Gareth Southgate, turned to the NBA and NFL for tips and pointers on some things the Three Lions did on and off the pitch.
Still, we’ve haven’t quite seen one coach do the cross-sport thing to the extent that Northern Kentucky coach John Brannen did on Friday night. The Norse were playing host to Horizon League foe Wright State, and with 11.8 seconds left, Northern Kentucky was doing all it could to protect a three-point lead.
This included running an absolutely wild inbounds play in which all five players stood out of bounds. Three players lined up to the right of junior forward Dantez Wilson, who was tasked with inbounding the ball. With all the attention being paid to the trips right setup we had on display, junior guard Tyler Sharpe ran a comeback route and received the pass.
It was all pretty easy from there, as the Norse nearly took 10 seconds off the clock and could have gone in for a wide-open layup if they wanted. Eventually, Sharpe got fouled, went 1-for-2 from the stripe, and secured a 68-64 win for the Norse.
As for the inspiration for the play — which was called “Clemson” and got installed one day before the Norse took on the Raiders — Brannen told CBS Sports that he stole the idea from another college basketball coach.
“Dan Muller actually ran the play at Illinois State, so I have to give him credit,” Brannen said. “I saw him run it, and I liked it because of the fact that it allowed us to get the ball inbounds, because you never see it. And secondly, it put us in position to put our two best foul shooters in position to probably be the first and second options on the play, which was the main thing because we were up three with 11 seconds to go.”
We’ve seen plenty of college basketball players go on to have NFL careers — Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham, Julius Peppers, etc. Perhaps this will lead to the reverse happening, with former NFL offensive coordinators drawing up inbounds plays for college basketball teams. We’ll know this is a thing if Marty Mornhinweg gets a job on the bench for some MAC team in the next few weeks.