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The Tribe

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.

Putting Pressure on the Rim

The Read & React Offense applies North/South pressure on the rim with almost every layer. Because any initial attack on the rim must be addressed by the defense, often it is the secondary attack (when the defense is out of position) that leads to the score. Clip 1: Dribble Penetration by the wing puts pressure on the rim. It requires help defenders to stop the drive, but Circle Movement places the receiver in the best passing window.

Most coaches are control freaks (I am). That’s why we invented plays – so that we can position players exactly where we want them and have them move exactly how we want. The problem is that defenses can play by principle, adjusting quickly to anything the offense does. And, like I said in the previous article, a coach’s predetermined sequence of actions (a play) prevents the offense from being able to adjust to the moment-by-moment actions of the defense. If that is the case, how do you counter a defense playing by principle? The answer is easy to say, but much harder to do. You must turn your moment-by-moment hunting of scoring opportunities over to your players, while maintaining control of the larger themes of the game (momentum, large adjustments by the defense, etc.). To say it another way: you need to control players and situations through the offense rather than with it.

Last night, the streets of Indianapolis were quiet, essentially vacant when you consider what they were like after Saturday night’s Final Four games. Butler’s Cinderella run fell 3 points short from being the perfect story. Regardless of the loss in the finals, I can’t look at Butler’s season as anything but successful. You almost couldn’t ask for a closer game. Only the scoreboard can separate the difference between these two teams; one shot, one pair of Free Throws, one turnover early in the game, one made or missed put-back, one call by the officials. Coach Brad Stevens has a great future ahead of him. And congratulations to the Duke team and Coach Mike Krzyzewski! What a fun team to watch all season long. When I consider Duke’s team, the word balance comes to my mind. Which is stronger: their defense or their offense? Everyone on their team rebounds on both ends of the floor. Their offense has a nice mix of dribble penetration, passing, post play, and screens. You can’t concentrate on stopping just one aspect of their offense or stopping one particular player. Coach Mike Krzyzewski continues to build his legacy as a legend in this game. But these are not the things I want to draw your attention to. I want you to forget the rest of the tournament and only consider the last three games – the Final Four and the Final.

Players are smarter than coaches on a moment-by-moment basis. That ought to get your attention! Here’s what I mean:
  • Players should know when they’re being over-played without the ball and can go back-door.
  • Players should know when their defender is out of position and can be beaten by forgetting “the play” and ripping the ball to the goal.
  • Players should see slight openings in the defense that a coach on the sidelines can’t and take advantage of them.
I could go on with this list (just like any coach could). So, when I say smarter, I mean more informed from the standpoint of the immediate read of the defense.

Zone Attack, Staggered Screens, 45 Window, Why You Finish Cuts, Curl the Puppy-Dog

Clip 1: Here’s why you “Hook & Look” when you Pass & Cut against a Zone. Notice that it was the second cutter through the seam of the zone who receives the pass. Clip 2: Here’s an example of the Post Player changing interior spots after the cutter goes through. It’s the same looking for the ball that perimeter cutters should do as they go through the zone. Hunt the spots. Hunt the seams.