32 Split Low

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series 5 player Combinations

32 Split Low is the next call that we will explore.

“32” specifies a 3 out 2 in alignment.

“Split” specifies that the post players must be opposite of one another at all times.

“Low” specifies that the ball side post player should be in the low post.

***Side note: Remember the post spots are the Short Corner, Mid Post and Elbow. While the short corner is “lower” than the mid post, I’m referring to the mid post.

Remember these diagrams are not actions that are set in stone.  These are just possibilities. Your players will come up with more if you let them. I had fun with this one. I would like to see what other people come up with.


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The point passes to the wing. Boring right? You’re right it is, but I had to start somewhere. The screen for 2 from 4 is optional because 2 can just fill, but while 4 is there, they can make themselves useful. This could turn into a back screen or fade screen as well. For now we will keep it simple and have 2 fill the top spot while 1 fills out to the opposite side. Later, you’ll see what happens when this player fills to the ball side.








Page 637Of course, 5 is posting up and looking for the ball. If 1’s defender stops in help, like they are probably taught, 5 may not be open. That’s ok, because 1’s defender just set themselves up to get screened. If 1’s defender follows them out of the lane then 5 should be open for a post entry.  Of course if 4’s defender is helping off on the post then they should be open in the high post.

In this situation, let’s just say 1’s defender is in help side on 5. 4 can pin in 1’s defender. 1 lines up with 4 and 3 throws the skip pass. 2 cuts because they were skipped. In this case, they fill to the ball side. Since 5 is now opposite the ball, they fill the high post while 4 fills the low post.

4 may not be able to receive a pass off of a seal from the pin screen, but 4’s defender is going to have to make a choice.  Little do they know that behind them the other post player is moving to the high post and taking away help side defense.  3 is filling the top spot which brings the last help side defender 1 pass away. If 4’s defender plays behind, we should be able to get 4 the ball. If not, the lob should be available.



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If you’re Phil Jackson, this might look familiar. There’s a strong side triangle on the left side of the floor. We could have had this alignment on the first pass if 1 had cut to the ball side corner. Of course there are dozens of actions in the triangle that start from this alignment.

For the sake of continuing the offense, let’s say 4’s defender plays behind and we’re able to get the ball to 4.  1’s responsibility is to Laker Cut. Now they could Laker Cut and screen for 2, 3, or 5, but for now we’ll say they just fill out. Notice how turning the Laker Cut into an X-cut or into a back screen as a NBA would make things interesting.

Again 1’s defender should stay in help, which sets them up for a nice little pin screen from 5. 2 fills up from the corner. Of course 5 may be open on a dive to the basket, but that probably turns into a lay-up so let’s keep going.



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Notice if 4 puts the ball on the floor to the baseline side, 1 would fill the corner spot following the Baseline Drive principles.  If 4 drove middle, everyone would circle move. The question might be what about 5. I would encourage them to circle move to the right and be available around the low post/short corner.

However, 4 doesn’t feel comfortable trying to score or put the ball on the floor so they decide to kick it out to 2. They could kick it to 1 or 3 as well. The best option is the open option, and for now we’re going to say 2 is the open player.

4 could repost.  They could sprint into a ball screen, but in this diagram they screen away for the other post player. 5 knows their job is to go low since they are on the ball side.  4 has to stay high.  Notice we look a lot like we did in the second diagram.



Page 640This time instead of a skip pass, 2 passes to the top to 3 and cuts to the basket.  5 steps up and back screens 2’s defender on the cut. As 2 exits the lane, 4 back screens 1’s defender as 1 cuts to the basket.  Then 5 sets the second screen for 1 to either flare to the wing or curl to the lane. You might be thinking, there’s no way I could get my players to do all this.

I say, why not? Let’s keep moving. I will address that in a minute.










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1 and 2 have basically switched sides of the court. However, these actions were not predicated. Who knows what kind of match-ups we have right now. It’s quite possible that the defenders have switched at some point along the way or that a defender has gotten themselves out of position.  However, let’s say they’ve played great defense on actions that they couldn’t foresee, because our own players aren’t following a prescribed set of actions.

Now 3 decides to dribble-at 1 for a dribble handoff. 2 fills just as they would if it were a dribble-at.  4 and 5 wait patiently and prepare for the next action.






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As 1 turns the corner, 2 circle moves while 4 and 5 slide away from the penetrator to either open up the lane or open up themselves.








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Now 1 has a decision to make. Does the action have to stop on this penetration?  Of course not. 1 might dribble back to the top of the key and pass to a wing.  They might kick out to 2 who makes an entry pass to 4 and Laker Cuts.  The action could continue as long as the clock is running and the offense doesn’t give up possession of the ball by either shooting it or turning it over.

The point here is that this is just one combination of actions that are based on this one alignment.  Yet, the action could look very different at any number of points along the way. In each frame of the action, the ball handler could have chosen any number of different actions to take with the ball. Then as a cutter, what they do when they cut changes things. Even which side of the court a player decides to fill makes things different as well.





This may seem complicated. Remember all the players are doing is executing one simple action and then reacting accordingly. They don’t need to know what action to execute next. They just need to focus on executing the next one correctly. The action of the post players is not predicated either. Remember they have two rules to follow in this case.  The first is that when the ball is driven towards the basket to move out of the way.  The second is based on the call that we made at the beginning, “32 Split Low”.

You might wonder how post players know when to set these screens. You’re right, there are no rules, but they can be taught. These screens aren’t being set by them going way out of their way.  All of them “make sense” based on their location and the cutter’s movement. All they really need to do is see the cutter coming prepare for the contact. The cutter just needs to use the post players as they cut off of them.

The good news is that the offense doesn’t break if someone forgets to set a screen. Maybe a post player is busy posting up instead of screening.  Well this can be just as effective. Maybe they decide to set another kind of screen somewhere along the line. That’s good too. This single possibility has a number of others built into it. The way I see it there are no wrong answers as long as players remain spaced, move themselves with a purpose, and move the ball with a purpose, including attacking the lane off the dribble.

Phase II: Transitioning from the Foundation to “What’s Next”

This entry is part 1 of 13 in the series Next Best Actions

We’ve built the foundation and the primary structure.  Now it’s time to turn the house into a mansion.  The first 100 posts have been all about the Foundational Layers of the Read & React offense. These will always be part of everything we talk about. Why?  Because they are all about that little orange sphere.  They are all about that magic pill we call a basketball.

We started with the Attack Dribble.  There’s no mistaking it’s importance.  Besides being the first main topic, it was mentioned in over 50 of the first 100 posts. You can go back and read about it.  I won’t harp on it anymore right now.

Then we moved on to Dribble-At and then to Passing which covered both perimeter and post passing.  These are critical too. However, to stop with these layers would be like putting up the outside walls and not making rooms inside, not to mention furniture or decorations.

Some teams may only need the foundation.  Some teams may only have time for it.  Some levels of basketball don’t need a mansion.  If you’re coaching middle school teams or rec league teams, the foundation is probably all you need.  It’s probably all you have time for.  You may not even have time for all of those.  However, as the level of basketball increases there has to be a next level, a next step.  The foundation is still critical.  You’ll never get anywhere without it, but you have to take the “NEXT” step.

So you ask….”What’s NEXT?”

These are the “Next Best Actions.” Offense is about to get really fun really quick for those of you who eat, sleep, and drink X’s and O’s. Defense is about to get complicated. The NBA’s (not David Stern’s league) are the actions of cutters.

Remember, the person with the ball has a choice of what to do with the ball.  They can shoot, dribble, or pass.  If they shoot, the response of their teammates is rebound (or prepare for transition defense depending on your philosophy).  If they dribble, their teammates have a specific response based on the type of dribble.  If they pass, there is a certain response.  Unless a shot is taken, each of these actions results in a cutter.

Now we will train the cutter on their “next action.”  Until now, they only had one choice.  Their next action was to fill out to the perimeter.  This action is not eliminated.  This is still an option.  However, they also have other options that they may choose from.  Coaches may decide to make these decisions for them.  That’s another topic and another discussion.  Regardless, every cutter must make a decision on what to do “NEXT.”

The cutter’s options are:

1.  Fill Out
2.  Post Up
3.  Set a back screen
4.  Set a post screen
5.  Set a pin screen
6.  X-cut
7.  Set a ball screen
8.  Set a screen for another cutter

These are a lot of options.  You may only choose one or two of these.  You may be able to teach all of them.  Less may be more for some teams.  Other teams may need all of them. That’s up to you to determine.

I’m going to attempt to cover them all in as much detail as I can.  Covering the foundation was like swimming the English Channel.  Tough, but doable.  Covering all of these seems like the Atlantic Ocean right now.  We’ll see what happens.  One stroke at a time right?