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.

32 Split High

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series 5 player Combinations

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.

 

Page 629Initially, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Page 630As 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.

 

 

Page 631Let’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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page 632As 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

Page 629Everything starts just like the last set of actions.  1 passes to 3 and dives to the rim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page 633This 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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?

Pin Screen: The Whole Part III

As mentioned in the previous post on pin screens, this post will extend the discussion of setting pin screens in a 5 out alignment to a 4 out 1 in alignment. We covered setting pin screens as Next Best Actions out of the 5 out alignment. That’s the simplest way to teach players to set pin screens out of this alignment.

In the 4 out 1 in alignment, the opportunities to set pin screens as NBAs still exist.  There are not as many opportunities as in the 5 out alignment, but they still exist. In addition, there are a number of other opportunities to set pin screens with the permanent post player.

A previous article discussed the location of the permanent post player in a 4 out 1 in alignment. It’s pretty obvious how a post player on the weak side can set a pin screen for the perimeter player on the weak side.  All they have to do is find their defender and screen them. Their defender should be pretty easy to find. If the ball is on the wing, they are probably very close to if not in the lane.  That’s exactly where the post player should be. There should be very little effort involved.  It’s just recognizing this defender and screening them. What if the defender is not in help? Well that’s even better.  That provides open opportunities for cutters and penetration. If they are in help, they are susceptible to this screen.  Even if they see the screen coming, they still have to avoid the screen to get to their player on the pass. This extra second creates the opportunity for a poor closeout as well as a post entry.

If the defender leaves too early, they will take themselves out of help position.  If they leave when they are supposed to, they will be fortunate to closeout in time.  If they hesitate at all, they will be at a disadvantage.

 

Page 342The basic 4 out 1 in alignment offers an immediate pin screen opportunity as long as the post is on the weak side. This can be very effective way to begin an offensive possession. Especially if the ball handler is a threat to attack., the help side defenders can’t anticipate the pass. They have to be ready to help, which makes the pass and screen easier to execute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page 345This alignment is achieved when a player cuts and fills to the ball side corner. Remember 4 doesn’t have to fill up because they are more than one pass away. With the post on the weak side this sets up another good opportunity for a pin screen.  The perimeter player has the freedom to work the whole weak side of the court to catch their defender asleep.  All the post player has to do is find that help side defender.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is fairly typical alignment. Whether it follows a pass from the top to the wing, or a dribble at, when the player cuts and fills to the weak side, they set themselves up for a great pin screen.  Their defender stops in help like they are supposed to, and then all of a sudden they are being screened in.  Of course the pass has to good and the player has to be ready to play with it when they catch it, but the X’s and O’s are pretty simple.

 

 

 

 

 

Page 344Here’s a unique looking alignment. This is easily accomplished if 2 starts on the left wing passes to the top and cuts through to the corner.  1 could also be on the left wing and dribble at 2 who cuts through to the opposite corner.

Now we have the possibility for two different pin screens.  5 could screen for 2 or 4. Either one would work just fine. On this pass, 3 or 4 should cut following the skip pass rules.  This cut could be enhanced by a back screen following the pin screen.

If the help side cheats the screen, you’ve got a clear out on the left side for your point guard. If your point guard can beat the defender in front of them, something good should happen.

 

 

 

 

 

I just listed 4 examples of how to set up a pin screen when you are playing with one post player and after one action has been executed. Of course your teams will learn how to set them after 4 and 5 actions as long as your post players are on the weak side. The NBA options are still available as well which gives your team even more ways to set pin screens. I hope this helps your team score more points.

 

 

Keeping Things Simple

This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series 5 player Combinations

A recent opponent played a true matchup zone against us. These defenses can give teams problems. Zone offenses tend to be less effective because the defenders aren’t assigned to a certain area. Man to man offenses tend to not work as well because defenders aren’t assigned to certain players either.

Here’s a simple set of actions that we used for a few consecutive possessions in the second half which helped us create a number of good scoring opportunities.  Of course players had to make plays, but as coaches we have to put them in position to do so.

We drew up the first three frames in a time out. The fourth frame was not part of what we did, but it would be one way to simultaneously create two 3 point shots on either side of the court.

The lesson learned here is that sometimes simple is better.  The trick is not the complication of the action.  The trick is putting players in places where they can be successful while creating ball movement and player movement with good spacing. These actions were created based specifically on the skills of the personnel on the floor.

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There are a few interesting things to notice.  The alignment changes in a very simple way from 4 out to 3 out with an even front. Notice how the defense defends the same action differently all three times.

The tandem alignment is designed to take away the middle of the floor.  By starting in a 4 out alignment, it brings out the middle person of the tandem.  This along with the denial of the low post player opens up the high post and causes the defense problems.  The entry to the high post causes confusion.  Now it just takes one attack dribble to hold the low wing defender to create the open 3 point shot.

 

In the second clip, the person in the middle of the zone is worried about that weak side post player.  She remembers in the previous possession how that player flashed to the high post and compromised their defense.  That little bit of attention draws her away from the cutting post player.  A good post entry and a good individual play lead to a layup.  Notice also in this clip how the weak side post player could have sealed the backside defensive player to prevent their rotation to help.  It worked out anyway, but posting on the weakside can be a huge benefit to the team even if they don’t receive the ball.

This is just a tough individual play.  But notice after scoring the first time how the defense reacts.  They decide to double team that player which obviously opens up other players who react well to the openings it creates.

After this they started fouling and we didn’t run the action again.  We didn’t have to.  It’s amazing how such simple actions can lead to productive offense.

Posting Up (3 player combinations w/ Read Line)

This entry is part 14 of 14 in the series 3 player Combinations

Here are some 3 player combinations that show someone posting up after a Read Line cut. Notice that in all of these diagrams the ball handler could have filled the open spot with a dribble.  This would have been the same as a Dribble-At, which was diagrammed in an earlier post.   As a result, I wanted to show something a little different.  A fourth perimeter player on the court would open up a lot more possibilities for the ball handler.  Those diagrams are coming next.  These will also be shown from a 4 out alignment, which will look a little different from the diagrams that I’ve been showing.

Again you’re probably going to notice a lot of obvious screening opportunities.  Keep in mind there are only 3 players on the court.  When the fourth and fifth players are added, there will be even more opportunities.  At this point if players want to start taking advantage of these “obvious” opportunities, that’s great.

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Posting Up (3 player combinations)

This entry is part 13 of 14 in the series 3 player Combinations

Below are 9 different 3 player combinations that have a player posting up after executing an action for one action. There are more on the way.  The next set of combinations will have Read Line cuts included.  You’ll notice that all of these posting opportunities are in the mid post.  I will also draw up some high post and stretch options.

You’ll notice in some of these diagrams that there are some obvious screening opportunities. When the post is shown in some of the other locations, we’re going to run across even more good screening opportunities.We’re getting so close to setting screens.

After the next couple sets of 3 player diagrams, we’ll look at some 4 player and 5 player scenarios with a permanent post player.  If you’re playing 5 out, posting up is pretty straightforward.  The cutter doesn’t have very many decisions to make.  They can post up anywhere they want.  In a 4 out 1 in alignment, they have to be cognizant of where this permanent post player is located.

Of  course the rules that you establish for your permanent post player will affect the decisions of your “temporary” post players. We’re going to start looking at that this week.  I hope this stuff is helpful.  If I need to provide more explanation for a specific diagram let me know.

 

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Posting-Up: (3 player breakdown Part I)

This entry is part 7 of 13 in the series Next Best Actions

This post will introduce a 3 player breakdown of players posting up as a Next Best Action.  Remember, the breakdown of posting up is going to depend on your rules.  It’s obvious you have to work on the fundamental skills first.  These may be taught in 1 on 0 building blocks or anything up to 2 on 2. I will expound on different options for teaching these skills later.

Once you’ve covered the individual skills, you’re going to have to do a little brain work on your own to figure out what works for your players and your team.  You’re going to be able to rep those skills as you teach and drill the team concepts that are based on your rules. However, you’re going to have to determine what rules you have for your team.

Are there permanent post players?  Where are they?  Where can they go? Is everyone else a temporary post player?  Are only certain players posting up?  Can they post up anywhere or only in certain spots? This list goes on and on.  I don’t want to repeat things from previous posts, but they do need to be considered.

All of the NBA breakdowns will start with 3 at least players.  There has to be a third offensive player so that a second perimeter action can be performed and so the players can have some continuity as they execute the NBA. So let’s start breaking it down.  Hopefully, you’ll be able to apply your rules to the building blocks.

SAMPLE RULE: Every cutter posts up (anywhere they want) for one action and then they fill out.  

3 offensive players 2 actions (3 out)
Let’s start this breakdown just like we’ve started the rest of them. This is a good chance to practice the foundational layers. You should be able to give players the freedom to choose the action.  The only rule they have to follow is that they must post up on each cut.

Keep in mind you can start with a player in the post.  They should be considered a temporary post player. The assumption is that one action has already been completed or that they are exiting the post after one action.  The execution of the next two actions will give both of the other perimeter players the chance to post up.

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This post would be too much to digest if I kept going.  So I’m going to stop here.  I will post some more 3 player breakdown combinations.  This one simple rules creates significant amounts of variability.  The combinations of actions make this grow even more rapidly.  There’s no way I could diagram every possible combination.  Isn’t that fun?  One simple rule completely changes how the offense looks.  More diagrams to come.

Thoughts?  Comments?