As I watch games on all levels, I always asking myself, “What would I do in this situation? What would I do to give my team a fighting chance to win?”
Let’s start with the definition of insanity: The definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results.
Let’s pretend that you’ve chosen a particular action to emphasize against your opponent. In fact, let’s pretend that you’ve told your team that you want the offense initiated with a high-ball-screen.
Furthermore, pretend that your opponent defends this offensive action perfectly, in other words, you’re getting nothing from this type of action. The shots that you get are not the ones you want and furthermore, they’re not going in. What do you do? You’re behind and the defense “has your number.”
If this were baseball and your pitcher was throwing all fastballs and your opponent was knocking the cover off the ball, would you tell him to throw better fastballs or would you tell him to throw some change-ups, some curves, or some sliders?
If this was football and the defense was stuffing every attempt to run the ball, would you tell your team to “run better” or would you begin to throw the ball?
If you were boxing and every time you threw a right hook your opponent counters by breaking your nose, would you continue to throw the right hook or would you try some jabs and combinations?
If I were operating the Read & React with a lot of ball screens and my opponent defended it perfectly, resulting in fewer scoring opportunities, then I want to CHANGE MY ACTIONS and try to create DIFFERENT scoring opportunities.
You might be saying, “OK, but how do I do that in the middle of a game?”
In order to create a change in scoring opportunities, you must change the situations that the defense is guarding. The defense has already proven that they can guard the actions your offense is using, so whatever changes are made must affect tempo, ball movement, and player spacing. Think about what changes these require from the defense.
Here are some possible changes:
1. Go 5 OUT and Pass & Cut & Dribble-At without ANY screens. Avoid any physical contact and turn the offense into a foot race with the ball changing sides of the floor as many times in one possession as possible.
2. Begin 5 OUT with an emphasis on cutters posting up when they have the chance. Seek to feed the post and choose Laker Cuts or X-Cuts. If nothing is available, kick it out, get out of the post, keep going and try it again with a different player. The tempo and rhythm of this action is inside, outside, inside, outside, etc. A similar variation of this would be Pass & Cut mixed with Dribble-At. When a Dribble-At occurs (and no lay-up results), the cutter posts up. With this version, everyone on the team knows that only the Dribble-At cutter will post up for the feed.
3. 5 OUT and every cutter seeks to set a back-screen on their way out. As every Read & React coach knows, this will result in Multiple Staggered Screens. However, note that none of these are Ball-Screens. The defense has already proven that they can defend Ball-Screens. Don’t forget that with the clustering that occurs in this action, there will be huge open spaces for dribble penetration.
4. 4 OUT 1 IN and Pin & Skip, Pin & Skip, Pin & Skip until weak-side defenders don’t dare to put a foot in the lane. Combine any other layers with this emphasis. It won’t matter what they are, because you’re just looking to move defensive players until there’s a good Pin & Skip opportunity. Remember, you don’t have to shoot the Skip pass. You can catch and drive, catch and feed the post, catch and pass and cut, catch and Dribble-At, etc.
5. Change formations to 3 OUT 2 IN at the high post (1-4 HIGH), emptying the lane, and let the High Post players set ball screens whenever they like on whomever they like (see “Post Player Quarterback”).
6. Pass & Cut in any formation with the intention of hunting DRAFT DRIVES or OPPORTUNITY DRIVES. We are looking to break down the defense by combining two actions: (a) Pass & Cut layers + (b) Dribble Penetration/Circle Move/Post Slides.
I could go on with this list or you can watch similar variations in READ & REACT VARIATIONS. These variations could be given a color code, a name, or a number so that they can be worked on during practice. Spend a few minutes in practice on “Changing Gears”. Try it first with 5 vs zero. Tell your team to take no shots and “change gears” as you call out your codes. Then try it with shell defenders. Your final stage of preparation is to change gears on the fly during scrimmage.
The next time your opponent is prepared for your offensive actions, you will have the ability to change gears (tempo, spacing, screening or cutting actions) and offer your players different scoring opportunities. Of course, your opponent might simply be too good for you and no changes work and you lose anyway. However, my responsibility as a coach is to give my players a CHANCE to win: “Never change a winning game, but ALWAYS change a losing game.” I created the Read & React to have the ability to change the game, i.e., scoring opportunities without changing my offense and to do it “on the fly”.