Better Basketball logo

The Tribe

One of the advantages of the Read & React is that it can ease communication between coaches and players. It can also ease communication between coaches and other coaches (as long as they are in the Tribe). So, with that in mind and as an expansion of our previous post, A Cut By Any Other Name, here’s a list of Read & React Terminology. Natural Pitch – This is an air pass. It is the most natural pass to make when a player drives to the basket and is stopped and looks to pass. Dish – This is a bounce pass, typically thrown to a cutter. Circle Movement – When the ball drives “North-South” to the basket, perimeter players and even post players (Advanced Post Slides) must move to the next “Spot” (as defined by the offense) in the same direction that ball is driven. Ex: If the ball handler drives around their defender using their right hand, then those without the ball must move one Spot to their right. If the ball drives left, then everyone else “Circle Moves” one Spot to their left. Safety Valve – When a player circle moves behind the driving player, he becomes a “safety valve” if the driving teammate gets in trouble. North/South – This is when a player with the ball goes directly to the basket no wider than a “V.” Some R&R coaches call this a “Penetration Dribble”. East/West – This is when a player with the ball moves laterally to the basket. Some R&R coaches call this a “Perimeter Dribble”. This usually occurs in one of two circumstances:
    A player tries to drive north/south, but is stopped and pushed outside the lane; this then becomes an east/west movement. This creates a “U”shaped drive rather than the intended “V” shaped drive.
    A player deliberately dribbles the ball at another teammate on the perimeter (east/west) creating a dribble-at or a power dribble (see below).

This is our first guest post on the Tribe and it's a great way to start. Mike Largey wrote the beginnings of this article in the comments section of the post New Layers: The Ball Screen and I asked him to expand upon it to make sure no one missed out. Fun fact: in the 80's Mike played international ball against the likes of Drazen Petrovic and Vlade Divac. Have an idea for a guest post? Let me know. And, no, it isn't a requirement that you competed against Vlade, just a bonus. Thanks again, Mike. The Circle Reverse is an excellent pressure relief move to a failed North/South penetration. But after viewing that layer of the offense I had a number of observations "circling" in my head.
  1. A player reversing direction and receiving a pass from a teammate that just failed on a North/South penetration attempt is an effective way to open up scoring opportunities. Why does there have to be a "failure" first before we get the benefits of this movement?
  2. When viewing the Circle Reverse layer on the DVD I wondered why the player flipping the pass side steps out of the way of the receiver's defender. Why not just come to a jump stop and set a screen after flipping the pass - similar to a Dribble Handoff action?
  3. If we want to intentionally perform a Circle Reverse with the added screen can it be as simple to read as the Speed Dribble and Power Dribble? Will this new read aid or hinder the development of a "true" Circle Reverse read (an honest attempt at North/South penetration flattened out into a more East/West direction)?
  4. If we develop something that intentionally triggers a Circle Reverse with an added screen should it be considered part of the Sprint Ball Screen layer or an adjustment to the Circle Reverse layer?
  5. Can "it" be considered an offensive principle?
The result of these observations together with my team's performance led to the development of the Intentional Circle Reverse.

We’re trying something new. This is the first Tribe Spotlight where we feature the successes, struggles, insights, and hopefully game footage of Read & React coaches. Our first spotlight comes from Stephen Ring in Melbourne, Australia. I know, the R&R is so international. Here’s what Coach Ring (Ringy in the forum) has to say. And, if you want your team spotlighted, send me an email at and we’ll set it up. The following clips have been taken from our first pre-season games through the fifth game of the regular season. We are far from perfect, but what I’ve tried to highlight with these clips is the players making the reads and reactions. We don’t score on every occasion and sometimes we don’t make the correct reactions, but I think the footage shows that the coordinated movement (even with mistakes) is very difficult to defend, post passing can open up the outside for kick-outs, and cutters are generally in good rebounding position if a shot is taken. Pay particular attention to the progression from the pre-season (Videos 1 & 2) into the regular season (Videos 3 & 4)- we made a lot of progress!

Pre-Season Clips: Learning the Basics

The above clips are from a couple of our pre-season games and we are pretty much sticking to our basic Layers highlighting:

  • Pass & Cut with Circle Movement
  • Good Front Cuts and Post Feeds
  • Post Passing with Laker Cuts
  • Baseline Drives filling windows
  • Drive and Pitch

Pre-Season Clips: Becoming More Comfortable

Here’s another set of pre-season games highlighting:

  • Corner Back Cuts
  • Speed Dribble and an attempted Power Dribble
  • Penetrate and Pitch
  • Penetrate and Dish
  • Back Screen, hit the cutter, dish to Post (pity it was a traveling call)
  • Strong Basket Cuts
  • Baseline Drives
  • Post Passing and Laker Cuts
  • Filling windows

Juliet famously declares in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, “that which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.” Of course, she is talking about Romeo’s name and all the trouble it creates for the couple, but the same could be said about the Read & React. That’s right! Literature and the Read & React; where else could you get this stuff? There is a recent forum thread titled, Changes to R&R Terminology where coaches are discussing what terms they like in the R&R, which they’ve switched out, and which they’ve found most successful. Every coach is different. Every team is different. And players will respond to different terms - the trick as a coach is to figure out which terms your team relates to the best and use those. For example, some coaches have struggled using North/South Dribble Penetration as a term. Instead, they use Penetration Dribble. They’ve changed East/West Dribble to Perimeter Dribble. Any of those are fine and changing the terms doesn’t hurt our feelings. Well... maybe a little, but we get over things quickly.

This article was published today in Basketball Times so I thought it may be of some interest to the Tribe, especially those who are new to the R&R. Several events in my life along with many lingering thoughts about basketball ultimately led to the creation of the Read & React. This article describes a couple - there are more that may be published in the future. There is very little teaching in here, it's just a story about how I reached my breaking point with traditional offense. Just over 10 years ago, after a rather average season, my assistant coach asked me if I was happy. It didn’t take long for the words, “Not particularly” to escape my lips. He knew that I was frustrated with the season, with myself, with... the job. “What would you do differently if you could scrap our entire program and start over?” he probed. Again, it didn’t take me long to respond because I’d thought about that very thing almost every day. “I would teach our kids how to play the entire game by principle.” I, of course, knew his next question before he said it, “Why don’t you do it?” The honest answer was simple: I didn’t know how. I had a lot of pieces; a lot of 2-man and 3-man game principles, but not the entire thing. It seemed like a pretty tall order to create a seamless offensive system that would tie together transition, man-to-man, and zone without contradiction. And, it couldn’t be limited to only one formation like 5 OUT, or demand a certain type of players, or a particular style of play because my players and talent level changed every year.

Not what you would expect from me, huh? But it's true. I want your players to be selfish - not in life or as people - but at least while running the Read & React. And you should too. Here's a quote that puts words to why that assertion makes you uncomfortable.
“There is a tension, peculiar to basketball, between the interests of the team and the interests of the individual. The game continually tempts the people who play it to do things that are not in the interest of the group. On the baseball field, it would be hard for a player to sacrifice his team’s interest for his own. Baseball is an individual sport masquerading as a team one: by doing what’s best for himself, the player nearly always also does what is best for his team. “There is no way to selfishly get across home plate,” as Morey puts it. “If instead of there being a lineup, I could muscle my way to the plate and hit every single time and damage the efficiency of the team — that would be the analogy. Manny Ramirez can’t take at-bats away from David Ortiz.” from an article on Shane Battier
If you understand the tension in the above excerpt, you’ll understand some of the reasons behind the structure of the Read & React Offense. Wherever I could do it, I built the actions of the players on the baseball premise above.