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Coaching the Read & React

I love the corner cutter in a 5 OUT when the wing drives baseline. There, I said it. It’s out there and it feels so good to get that off my chest. Why do I love him? Well, mainly because he is the underdog. He is the most harassed cutter in the entire Read & React system, yet he continues to soldier on, following the Circle Movement principle with a blatant disregard for what outsiders might think of him. “You’ll clog the middle!”, they yell. “You won’t make it to the other side in time!” “You’ll keep the penetrator from getting to the rim, you selfish…” But, those words of discouragement don’t even phase him. He just Circle Moves like he’s been trained to. Sometimes he’s open; sometimes not, but he knows deep down that he’s doing what’s best for the big picture. Nicely done, corner cutter in a 5 OUT when the wing drives baseline. Nicely done. Ok, that’s over. I just had to have a little fun with this issue. In reality, this is probably the most discussed “problem” in the Read and React. We’ve had emails about it, I’ve seen it in forums, coaches ask about it in clinics and I finally want to put it to bed (at least, for now). The goal of this post is to look at what aspects of this action are seen as problems and examine all the proposed solutions. From there, it’s really up to you.

The following question came up in the comments section of the post, Quick Options for a Scoring Post and an Athletic Post. Rick answered it in the comments, but I didn’t want anyone to miss it. Question: I have a 4 guard that I want playing the perimeter and in the post. What are some options that I can do? I also have a center that I need to get the ball to also. My 4 guard can post, penetrate, hit the mid range and outside shot. What should be the rules for her when she is on the perimeter and in the post? Answer: The rule for her should be that no one takes a shot until she has touched the ball at least once every possession! When she has the ball in her hands, she has the freedom to choose the next best action – those without the ball react with their one predetermined action. This allows her to move everybody depending on her chosen action. I’m sure you’ve already made her aware this. However, when she passes, whether it’s on the perimeter or into the post, she must cut. Point out to her that cutters, like ball handlers, have the freedom to choose the next best action. This is where she can use her abilities inside and out.

Perimeter and Post Actions

Clip 1: This clip begins with #2 Kamille making a Basket Cut because she is one pass away and her defender is over the Read Line (Pass & Cut Layer). #21 Kachine Passes and Cuts, looking for a scoring opportunity (Pass & Cut Layer). #20 Kelly Krei must fill two empty spots toward the ball (Pass & Cut Layer) – see the blue arrow. But while Kelly is filling, the ball is driven in the opposite direction - to the left - by #24 Jaime. Because of the North-South Drive Circle Movement Layer, Kelly must immediately change directions (double blue arrows). The combination of these two simple layers makes it very tough on Kelly’s defender: She must move from weak-side help position to ball-side denial and make the decision whether or not to help on the drive while Kelly is changing directions. For defenders in this situation – there’s too much movement, too much space, too many decisions and just not enough time to close out.

In the Pass & Cut Layer, a rule is established that never changes throughout the offense: If you pass one spot away, you must basket cut. There are many reasons for this rule, but I want to focus on the Rear Cut. Most teams teach their defenders to jump to the ball when a pass is made. Depending on a coach’s defensive philosophy, this is done for one of two reasons.
  • To establish denial position and prevent the return pass.
  • To get in a better helping position closer to the ball (gap defense).
The Rear Cut is the best response for this defensive habit.