Coaches: Comebacks and Perspective

There is something about the 4th quarter of a basketball game that drums up all sorts of feelings.

  • There is excitement at the challenge seeing a lead shrink or grow.
  • There is stress to get back in the game or to keep it in your favor.
  • There is urgency knowing each second is closer to the final buzzer.
  • There is pride from the extra effort and focus required.
  • There is hope that your team will do enough to achieve the win.

The 4th quarter also unlocks new levels of being for everyone in the gym.

  • The crowd cheers a little louder and groans a little deeper as each play moves toward the finish.
  • Officials sharpen their focus as each play, and each call, carries extra weight.
  • Coaches find their groove as the previous 3 quarters have revealed the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent.
  • Players enter “flow” as their mind, body, team, and the game all become one.


Drexel rallies from 34-point deficit, breaking NCAA record for biggest  comeback - CBSSports.comIn 2018, Drexel University completed the largest comeback in NCAA D1 Men’s Basketball history by eliminating a 34-point first half deficit (29-56) to beat the University of Delaware 85-83.

The story mirrored a sculptor creating a piece of art by chipping away one piece of stone at a time to reveal a masterpiece.

Drexel head coach, Zach Spiker, was quoted in an ESPN interview as saying,

“Our approach at halftime was, let’s make it happen. Look, this has a chance to be the craziest comeback, a perfect storm. I told them, just get a stop, there’s no 30-point shot, 20-point shot, 15-point shot. Let’s just be poised here. We turned up the tempo, made it more full court. Let’s make it a crazy game.” 

The 4th quarter (final 10 minutes) saw Drexel down by 13, with each minute seeing their point gap shrink.

With 5 minutes remaining, Delaware’s lead was cut to 7.

By the 2-minute mark, the 34-point chasm was completely shut, and the game was tied at 79-79.

History was written as Drexel rode the wave of emotional momentum to secure a two-point victory off free-throws with 2 seconds remaining.

Poise, patience, hope, belief, urgency, and enthusiasm were on full display by Coach Spiker that day. His leadership spurred the team to give their best – one play at a time. His ability to shift the team’s perspective from despair to opportunity resulted in NCAA basketball history.


There are times in our lives when all hope seems lost and we’re coming to the end of something.  These times emulate similar emotions of the 4th quarter of a basketball game – especially for the team facing a deficit.

It is in these times when we need a great “coach” – a friend, mentor, leader, or even a stranger – to help shift our perspective and encourage our perseverance.

The Bible provides many examples of how God plays the perspective-changing “coach” at just the right time.

Consider Moses and the Red Sea, and how God made a way when it looked like the Israelites were headed for a loss.

Think about Gideon, and how God gave his armies victory when all odds were stacked against them.

Most importantly, consider Jesus and how God came in the flesh so that the unclosable deficit between humanity and divinity could be eliminated. 

Romans 5:3-5 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we  know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and  character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame,Romans 5:3-11 says:

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Is Jesus your savior?

Is He your Coach who helps shift your perspective in the 4th quarter?

Consider how you would enter a “4th quarter” life situation if you truly allowed your suffering to lead to endurance, character, and hope because of the compassionate work of Christ.

Consider joining the  “4th Quarter Sprint” fundraising campaign to support the international basketball ministry of News Release Basketball.

Tim Bieri | News Release Basketball Director
Tim Bieri | News Release Basketball Director

Tim has served with NRB for nearly 20 years and has coached at the collegiate level for the past 13 years.