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.

Pin Screen: Offensive Fundamentals

The pin screen by itself is a not a difficult skill to execute. However, there are a number of offensive fundamentals that are required to successfully complete this action.

The Screen

This is the easiest screen in the game of basketball for players to set.  The chances for players to get called for a moving pin screen are minimal.  The likelihood of the screen being a good one are high.  All they have to do is find a helpside defender and screen them. Ideally, they keep them from closing out to their player.  Most likely, the screener slows the defender down enough to make it difficult for them to closeout.

The Recognition

Three different people must read the situation to make a pin screen effective.  This starts with a screener.  Without someone to set the pin screen the action obviously can’t happen.

It is easiest to teach post players to set this screen. They are in and around the lane and have the shortest distance to travel to set the screen.  Post players are also not required to move as much in this style of offense.  They can stay on one side of the floor and when the ball goes away from them they can find a help defender and screen them easily.

Cutters are also able to set pin screens. However, teaching them to sprint their cut and then stop to find a help side defender can be tough. Many times they are focused on cutting and filling and they aren’t thinking about setting a pin screen.  Of course you could make a call that makes them think about setting pin screens, but then everyone is looking to set them and there may not be anyone on the perimeter to set them for.

Weakside perimeter players are also potential screening candidates.  However, this is even more difficult to teach because they are so focused on being ready to react to the ball that they aren’t programmed to think about sitting pin screens.

The second person who must recognize the pin screen is the person who the screen is set for.  They must read the screen and put themselves in position to make the most effective use of the screen.  They must line themselves up with the ball so that their defender must go around the screen instead of just closing out straight to them.

The final person who must see this action develop is the person with the ball. They must widen their vision and see the screen being set and determine if they can make a good skip pass to the open player.

The recognition for the ball handler and the perimeter player being screened for are triggered by the screener’s call. Offensive players may say that they don’t want to call the screen because they don’t want the defense to know it’s coming. It’s much more important for the offense to be on the same page instead of the defense to know it’s coming. Also, just because the defense knows it’s coming, doesn’t mean they can stop it. In fact, in the pressure of the game situation, the defense may over compensate to the call and then something else will be available.

The Pass and Catch

The ability to make a solid skip pass is critical to make the pin screen work well.  The pass must be thrown strongly, quickly, and on a line over the top of the defense.  Passes that aren’t high enough will easily be deflected.  Passes that are too high will give the defense time to closeout and possibly intercept the pass.  The receiver must have ready hands and feet to be able to take advantage of the defender who should be out of position.

The Seal

Once the screen is set and the pass is thrown, the screener should look to seal the next level defender in the lane.  If the receiver’s defender closes out well, the screener should be open close to the basket. Of course, this requires another effective pass.

Here are some video clips of pin screens.  We don’t score on all of them, but the pin screen is well executed in each instance. The first clip is of a high pin screen against the top of the 2-3 zone.  The receiver does a good job of using the screen.  A well thrown pass leads to an open shot.

When offense is being played like this, it’s pretty hard to guard.

Here’s a clip against a 1-3-1 zone.  This is a heady play by the screener. The post player’s seal serves as a sort of screen as well.

This one might have been a little bit illegal, but again this could easily be considered a post up  by the post player.  In any case, it created an open opportunity.

We turn the ball over, but the kick out to the open shooter shouldn’t have been a difficult play. It was all created by a well executed pin screen.

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.

Pin Screen: Points of Emphasis

This entry is part 11 of 13 in the series Next Best Actions

Pin Screens are unique to the screening family. The points of emphasis are the same as for any other screen. However, they must be executed in a different way because of the uniqueness of the pin screen.

Waiting for the Screen
While there is not a “cutter” on a pin screen, we will still refer to the person that the screen is being set for as the cutter.  Most of the time, these cutters are players who are 2 or more passes away from the ball.  In other words, they are on the weak side of the floor. In order to set up a pin screen, they must be patient when filling up to the next spot.
Remember: Only spots 1 pass away must be filled.
Spots that are more than 1 pass away do not have to be filled immediately.  While there is certainly nothing wrong with filling all the open spots, waiting to fill a spot provides an easy opportunity to set a pin screen.  It keeps the defender stationary and in a help side position.  It also helps make it easier on the screener to find the defender. Ball handlers must also learn to wait for this screen to be set as well.
 While a ball handler should never pass up an opportunity to attack, they should give a pin screen the chance to develop if they see a teammate going to set one.

Sprinting to the Screen
It’s important that the screener sprint to the screen.  The R&R is a fast paced offense.  There’s not a lot of standing around.  If the screener doesn’t sprint to the screen, the opportunity for the screen to be effective may be lost.  This also forces the defense to work harder and can make the screen more difficult to guard. Jogging to the screen will likely result in poor spacing and offensive confusion. It also minimizes the amount of time that the ball handler has to hold the ball to wait for an action to occur.

Communication
As with other screens, it is important to communicate that the screen is being set. With back screens (and most screens), the communication is primarily for the cutter and secondarily for the ball handler.  With a pin screen, these priorities are reversed.  With a pin screen, the cutter has very little work to do. A pin screen could be set for them, without them knowing, and it could still be effective.  Likewise, since they are away from the ball, they are likely to see the pin screen being set for them in their line of vision to the ball.

As a result, the communication in the pin screen situation is primarily for the ball handler. The ball handler is likely evaluating their options on the ball side of the court first. This is what they should do. However, a pin screen attacks the weak side of the defense.  A screeners’ communication that a pin screen is being set helps draw the attention from the ball handler to the weak side of the floor. This doesn’t mean that the offensive player will be open or that the pass should be thrown, but merely, that the screen is being set. It is still up to the ball handler to make a good decision.

Screening Angle
The screening angle for a pin screen is pretty straightforward.  The screen should be set on the defender to keep them in help side position for as long as possible.  In most cases, the backside of the screener will face the sideline, although if the ball is at the top, the screener’s angle may be more toward the baseline or the corner.

Using the Screen
This screen is probably the easiest screen to use for a cutter.  All they have to do is line up with the screener and the ball. In some situations, even this isn’t necessary.  It’s possible that the screener has done a great job of setting the screen and the offensive player doesn’t have to move at all.

Shaping Up
While a back screen can open opportunities for a player to get an open outside shot, the pin screen can create opportunities to get the ball inside. Primarily this occurs when the skip pass is made and the screener opens up to the ball.  As the defense chases out to closeout on the pass, the screener almost always has an advantage to post position on any defender.  It is just a matter of them finding a body and owning that position.  Post position can also be achieved before the pass is made if the weak side defender tries to anticipate the screen.  The screener can seal this defender out of the lane and look for the ball.

 

Pass, Cut, & Fill: Defensive Fundamentals

This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series Passing Actions

The pass, cut & fill layer provides coaches the opportunity to teach players how to defend offenses when a pass is made.  Following the rules of the Read & React creates significant off ball movement anytime the ball moves. This simultaneous movement of the ball and off ball players provides a teaching environment for any defensive strategy.  It provides a laboratory to create situations to test defensive skills and concepts. With the incorporation of the other foundational layers, coaches can teach and evaluate almost any perimeter defensive concept that does not involve a screening action.

1 pass away
What does this position look like for your defense philosophy? How do you teach it? On the line?  Off the line? How far? Up the line? Hug the player?  Always see ball or always see man?  Of course you always want to see both, but sometimes you have to choose.  Open stance?  Closed stance?

2 pass away
What does this position look like for your defense philosophy? How do you teach it? 1 foot in the lane?  2 feet in the lane?  Mid-line?  Does it depend on where the ball is?  Does it depend on the type of player you’re guarding?  Does it depend on how you defend the post player?  Does it depend on your defensive rotations?

Closeouts
They are one of the most important defensive concepts and skills for teams and players to master. The ability to closeout to a player in proper position is critical for defensive success. The Attack Dribble layer is a great opportunity to drill on ball closeouts.  Off ball closeouts are just important.  It is critical to always be in control of the body and be able react quickly offensive movement.  A closeout that is not aggressive enough to a position 1 pass away could lead to an open driving lane.  A closeout that is too aggressive to a position 1 pass away could lead to an easy back door cut.

Transitioning from one defensive position to another
This is related to closeouts in a way, but it’s also more than that. How do you want your players to get from on ball to 1 pass away?  What about from 1 pass away to on ball?  What about from on ball to 2 passes away or from 1 pass away to 2 passes away? Where do they go?  How do they get there?

Dealing with cutters
How do you want your players to deal with cutters? How do you defend the backdoor cut?  Do you allow face cuts?

Defensive Rotations
Defenses are inevitably going to break down. Whether on ball or off ball, somebody is going to make a mistake somewhere along the way. Defining who helps, when they help, and how they help each other completes the defensive picture for the most basic offensive actions. If your team can’t defend basic actions, they are going to have a more difficult time guarding more complicated ones.  

Pass, Cut, & Fill: Offensive Fundamentals

This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series Passing Actions

The offensive fundamentals in the Pass, Cut, & Fill layer are extensive. There are Passing fundamentals, Cutting fundamentals, and Filling Fundamentals. We’ll look at each subcategory.

Passing Fundamentals

  • Passing with the correct hand
    One of the more underrated fundamentals of the game is passing with the proper hand.  Some turnovers are a result of players not being able to pass with their non-dominant hand. The ability to pass with both hands makes the passer harder to defend.  Whether these are push passes, bounce passes, or lob passes, the ability to make all three of these passes with both hands is extremely valuable.
  • Fakes
    Fakes can be made with the ball or with different body parts. However, they are extremely useful in getting the defense out of position for a split second to create a passing lane. Fakes can be used to get the on ball defender out of position, but they can also force the off ball defender to commit briefly to one player and create an opening for another one.
  • Push pass
    It’s the simplest pass in the game yet many players throw this pass from their ear as opposed to their torso.  How many players actually push the ball through a passing window as opposed to throwing it and hoping it gets where it needs to go?
  • Overhead pass
    This pass is critical to being able to make an effective skip pass.  Many younger players struggle with this pass. It must be taught and practiced in order for players to be able to make this pass crisply and on target.
  • Footwork
    Stepping into a pass will provide an extra crispness and better accuracy. Yet many players pass the ball standing up and without stepping into it. Passing from a low position will prove much more effective in pressure situations.
  • Bounce Pass
    In some situations this may be the only pass that will get to a cutter. Sometimes this pass may need to be made with one hand. It is a slower pass which means players have to learn to anticipate and throw this pass earlier in order to fight it into a tight window.
  • Lob Pass
    The lob pass must be thrown differently from other passes. It must be thrown with touch over the defender and into the cutter’s hands.  This is a very useful pass in hitting a cutter late in a cut.
  • Meeting the pass
    Players must assume that the pass isn’t going to make it to them.  They must go to the ball.  They must meet the pass. This reduces the chance that a defender can step in the passing lane and deflect or intercept the pass.  This may draw an offensive player “off their spot.”  However, it’s more important that the pass be caught than a play be on their spot.
  • Catching the pass
    Going after the ball with two hands is a more safe and secure way of making sure players retain possession of the ball.  While players may have to make one handed catches, it’s always better to secure it with two hands when possible.
  • Providing a target
    When a receiver shows a passer a target, it gives the passer confidence that the receiver is ready to catch any pass that comes to them.  A receiver without a target should not be thrown the ball.  A receiver with a target gives the passer something to throw to and is ready to do something with the ball on the catch.
  • Recognizing the open cutter
    The first passer becomes the cutter and the first option as the next receiver. The second passer must be able to recognize if the cutter is open.  Many times the passer must anticipate that the cutter will be open before they actually are.  Sometimes the passer must be patient and give cutter time to get open in order to get the cutter the ball.  

Cutting & Filling Fundamentals

  • Take what the defense gives
    Many defenses are going to try to take away cuts in certain ways.  Sometimes they will jump to the ball and prevent any face cuts.  Sometimes they will jam a cutter. Whatever choice the defense makes, they are choosing to give up something else. They can’t take away everything. The offensive player must learn to how to take advantage of what the defense gives up.
  • Work for face cuts
    Cutters should try to get face cuts as much as possible.  This gives them the best chance to receive the ball on their cut. Coaches can choose to teach players to set up their cuts or to make speed cuts and try to beat the defense to the spot. Either method can be effective.  However, face cuts provide the best way for beating defenses.  They also provide the opportunity for the offensive player to post up their defender.
  • See the ball through out the cut
    Many players give up on the cut too early.  They think if they don’t receive the pass immediately, that they could never be open. Defenders may work hard to take away the initial pass, but then relax later in the cut. Cutters who see the ball through out the cut may be an option late in the cut.  More importantly, they are ready to react to other actions if they always see the ball.
  • Sprint the cut
    Every cut must be a sprint.  Jogging through the cut kills the rhythm and timing of the offensive movement. Jogging through a cut clogs up the lane.  It also makes teams easier to guard.
  • Cut to the rim
    Cutters must cut to the rim.  They must not shorten their cut or change the direction of their cut.  They should sprint on a straight line to the rim.
  • Filling out
    If the cutter choose to fill out, they should do so as quickly as possible. This helps other cutters decide where to go when they finish their cut. It also helps clarify roles on baseline drives.  

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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