This is a first on this blog. I’m actually talking about making a call. You might be surprised. I certainly think there are times when a coach can impact a game by making the right call. The question is how does that call change the team’s outlook. I will cover that in a different post. For now, let’s look at “32 Split High”.
“32 Split High”
“32” is obviously 3 out 2 in. That’s the easy part.
“Split High” refers to the location of the post players. “Split” tells them that one should be high and one should be low at all times. “High” means that the ball side post should be at the high post.
All I’ve done is called an alignment. I haven’t called any actions. I haven’t restricted the play of the offense. I’ve just created the opportunities for some interesting offensive spacing and actions. There is no set pattern here. Let’s look at a couple different possibilities when players follow the basic concepts that we’ve outlined so far. These are actions that just naturally flow off of the basic actions of the players. The combinations and possibilities are endless.
Initially, you might ask which post is “High” when the ball is in the middle of the floor. You can answer that any way you want. It could be either, both or neither. There is justification for all three answers. I chose the 4 just because that’s how I happened to draw it. There is no specific reason.
In a very inauspicious beginning to the action, the point guard passes to the wing and cuts to the basket just like they are supposed to. 2 fills the spot vacated by 1 and 1 fills out to the corner.
As 2 fills up, 5 yells “PIN” on the backside and 4 sets a back screen for 2. You can certainly call this a fade screen. It could also be considered a “PIN” screen. Either of those are fine, but to keep it consistent with I’ve written so far, it would technically be a back screen. Pin screens are set on help side defenders. 2’s defender is 1 pass away. Depending on your defensive terminology, this could be considered “help side”. Usually, I reserve help side for more than 1 pass away. Again, it’s up to you, it’s just important that you’re consistent with your players.
Back to the action. 4 is screening for a defender who is moving to get in the gap defensively to help on the potential middle drive from 3. 5 has pinned in 1’s defender. 3 has driving lanes and also has 4 passing options. If the defense cheats the pin screen, 5 could be open on the weak side. We’re screening for 1 and 2 and 4 might be open on the slip. 2 could certainly cut to the basket if the defender tries to chase over the screen. In this case the defender tries to go under the screen.
Let’s say that no one is open or 3 just doesn’t feel comfortable making the pass or drive at that moment. 4’s defender probably helped on the back screen and will probably be late in getting in position on the ball screen if 4 will sprint to the screen. If 1 and 2 don’t receive the ball from either of the screens, they should fill up.
As 3 drives off the screen, this filling movement keeps their defenders off balance. If either of them help on 3’s drive, then someone will be open. If not, 3 should be able to get into the lane with 4 passing options. 5 slides down as 3 drives. After setting the screen, 4 can roll to the rim or pop to the perimeter based on the defense and/or their skill set.
I didn’t draw this diagram, but let’s say 3 refuses the screen. 2 would fill behind 3 as a safety on that baseline drive. 1 would still go to the corner for the drift pass and 5 would rise to the elbow. 4 can dive to the rim or pop, again depending on the defense and/or their skill set.
Here’s a whole different set of actions
This time 4 sets a back screen and 2 dives to the block and posts up. Maybe 2 gets the ball and maybe they don’t. Either way, 2 and 4 have switched roles. 4 has become the perimeter player and 4 has become the post player. This means that since the ball is on 2’s side, they must come back to the high post, if they are going to stay in the post. In this case, I’m assuming 2 wants to stay in the post for a pass or two but doesn’t receive the ball. If they did receive and entry from 3, there would be a Laker Cut and then who knows what might happen.
On the pass to 4, 3 cuts off of a back screen by 2. They might be open, but if they aren’t they continue to the rim and run off a down screen from 5. Without really trying that hard, we’re just set a staggered screen for 3 They can curl off this screen if they are being chased or pop to the corner if not. As 4 reverses the ball to 1, 5 posts up off the screen and 2 back screens 4 back into the post. Again if 4 can shoot, 4 might fade off of this screen.
If 5 isn’t open on their seal after the second staggered screen for 3, they can sprint into a ball screen. 5 can roll or pop off of the screen based on the defense and their skill set. Everyone else is either circle moving or sliding in the post.
Here’s an exercise for you. Take “32 Split High” and following the concepts that you understand, what are some combinations that you can come up with? How do things change if there is a dribble hand off as the first action? What happens if the action starts with a back screen on the wing? What if we make an entry pass to a post player, but that player doesn’t take a shot? What other options or opportunities are created?