Four Corners Offense
The four corners offense was an offensive strategy for running out the clock(usually) in college basketball. Four of the players would stand in the corners of the half-court and the fifth would dribble the ball in the middle. Most of the time the point guard would be in the middle, but the middle player would periodically switch, temporarily, with one of the corner players.
The team running the offense typically would seek to score, but only on extremely safe shots. The players in the corners might try to make back door cuts, or the point guard could drive the lane.
Even if the team wanted to hold the ball until the end of the game, some such strategy was necessary since the rules did not (and still don't) permit a player to hold the ball for more than five seconds while closely guarded. So some mechanism to facilitate safe passes would be needed, which the four corners provided. There were other slowdown strategies, but the four corners was the most well known.
It was most frequently used to retain a lead by holding on to the ball until the clock ran out. The trailing team would be forced to spread their defense in hopes of getting a steal, which often permitted easy drives to the basket. Sometimes it would be employed throughout the game to reduce the number of possessions in hopes of getting an upset against a stronger team.
The "five seconds closely guarded" rule was originally introduced partially to prevent stalling, and other rules changes were made to the college rules through the 1970s in hopes of eliminating stalling without using a shot clock, as the NBA had used since the 1954-55 season. (Thus the four corners has always been purely a strategy of college basketball.) There was a perception that the NBA shot clock didn't permit time to work the ball to get a good shot, and that it would reduce the opportunity for varied styles of play.
However, by the eighties, fans were fed up. In the nationally televised 1982 ACC championship game between the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and the University of Virginia Cavaliers, Carolina held the ball for roughly the last twelve minutes of the second half to nurse a small lead. UNC's coach Dean Smith was the man who had made the four corners famous; a prominent restaurant-bar (at a four-way intersection) was called the Four Corners. This reflected a certain defiance by Carolina fans, who knew it was widely hated. They also knew it usually worked, although the times it didn't yielded loud complaints about "overcoaching."
The next year the ACC and other conferences introduced a shot clock experimentally, along with a three-point line to force the defense to spread out. In 1985, the NCAA adopted a shot clock nationally and then added the three-pointer a year later.
The strategy was invented by John McClendon.
- from Wikipedia-