There’s a difference between simply “Running the Read & React” and learning how to use the weapons that make up the Offense.
Doesn’t running the Offense mean that you know how to use the actions of the Read & React?
No, and here’s why.
The actions that helped you win last game won’t necessarily work in this game. We all know this is true. Every opponent has different personnel with different strengths and weaknesses. Every coach has a different defensive personality. And, if I scouted your team last week, I’m going to adjust my defensive strategy to take away the strengths of your players. Intellectually, we know this going in, but emotionally we don’t want to believe it.
Let’s say that you’ve been running the Read & React Offense long enough to have 5 weapons in your belt; Dribble Penetration with Circle Movement; Pass & Cut; Speed Dribble; Power Dribble; Pin & Skip.
Last game, you focused on Dribble Penetration and the results were amazing. But, this game the defense is good enough to stop your attempts at driving to the basket. You are frustrated, your players are frustrated, the crowd is frustrated. Your only conclusion is this: there must be something wrong with the Offense.
Nope. There’s nothing wrong with the Offense.
There is, however, something wrong with your choice of weapons.
Cops aren’t running down the street dragging sniper rifles and snipers aren’t trying to hit a target 300 yards away with a pistol. The same is true of anything. You don’t go to an English class with a pencil and a calculator or a Math class with a copy of Hamlet. Each situation requires the right weapon. (And yes, I consider Hamlet an appropriate weapon for learning Shakespeare.)
If the defense is good enough to stop your attempts at driving to the basket, then you have to switch weapons. It’s a cliché, but the defense can’t take away everything; they are giving up something in order to take away your drives. You and your team must figure out what that is, then exploit it.
In order to find out what the defense is giving up, you might holster Dribble Penetration temporarily and pull out Pass & Cut as your emphasis of action. This doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically score with your cuts, but you’ll definitely move the defense, create some bad close outs, and some defenders will certainly miss their change in assignments (example: from ball-side denial to weak-side help). You’ve just created driving opportunities that you didn’t have when your main action was to dribble penetrate. Now, you may be in a position switch back to Dribble Penetration and do some damage.
What if the defense shuts down your perimeter passing?
I’m not sure how this is possible with the Read & React, but nonetheless, let’s imagine you are having problems passing East-West. You should change weapons; switch to Speed Dribbles or Power Dribbles. These will still create the North-South cutting motions that you would otherwise be getting if you could simply Pass & Cut. With players cutting and both players and the ball changing sides of the floor, the defense will begin to loosen up allowing passing or driving opportunities.
If the defense keeps the lane covered with help defenders, then you must Pin and Skip more than usual – perhaps every other action is a Pin and Skip. With the ball changing sides of the floor so often and with the long close outs that accompany the skip passes, options such as driving or feeding the post will come open. Eventually, the defense will be forced to come out of their sagging positions to play closer to the perimeter. When this happens, switch back to a weapon that attacks the newly open lane.
I’m not saying this constant testing of weapons is easy. Most certainly, it isn’t. It’s much easier to choose your favorite action and just pound it against whatever defense comes your way. No wasted brain energy there. It’s much easier to complain that the system is flawed, or the players, or the refs, or the other team is just better.
But, none of that is true. And, we all know it.
So, what are we asking of you?
We are challenging you to invest intellectual labor into your coaching. We are challenging you to change the way that you coach. A Read & React Coach is not a coach who runs the R&R. Anyone can run anything. A Read & React Coach is different.
How different? You’ll hear more about it in future posts.