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Initiating the Opportunity Basketball Offense

Ask any honest point guard whether he prefers to work against pressure, or no pressure, when putting the ball in play, he will tell you that he prefers the defense to back off and leave him alone. There are two lessons to be learned from this:

  1. Why should we ever practice without pressure, once we learn the system? All good teams will keep pressure on the guards and the good teams are the teams we want to beat.
  2. Why should we ever allow an opponent to dribble the ball into the offensive spots they need to run their offense.

We know that it is easier to run our offense when the defense allows us to go directly to the offensive guard positions we want and then allow us initiate an entry from guard to forward or guard to center on the initial pass.

There is a bit of a gamble, here. If the offensive guards are superior in skill and better drilled, they certainly could take this defensive pressure and turn it into an advantage with quick opening moves, drives, or pivot feeds and cuts. Such pressure gives a confident guard the opportunity to take charge. It gives the guard who has worked countless hours to perfect his ball handling, dribbling, and passing an opportunity to display those skills. Spectators love it. Personally speaking, I enjoy a game more when there is defensive pressure by both teams.

You should benefit much if you never allow your guards to put the ball in play without some pressure during daily practice sessions. This, of course, does not hold true when they are learning the offense.

Initiating the opportunity with, or without, pressure

When there is no pressure, you should go through essentially the same movements as if you are being pressured. This should be done to insure good mobility and ball handling when faced with pressure. Timing is different and the dribblers won't need as many changes of pace and direction.

Back in the days when I was coaching we used a maneuver called, "button hook". This meant to cut-through and hook back. When there is no pressure, only one cut-through is needed. When there was pressure, we might use this tactic several times to get the ball down the floor.

Initiating the opportunity offense against pressure defenses Diagram 37 Diagram 37 shows the cut-through and hook back when the guards are not pressured. One guard takes the ball out-of-bounds and passes in-bounds. Notice that he cuts through in front of the receiver and across to the opposite guard spot. This gives the receiving guard the wide side of the floor in which to dribble. He will dribble diagonally across the floor behind the cut-through guard and into the vacant guard spot.



Initiating the opportunity offense against pressure defenses Diagram 38


The guard going through should always be ready to button hook back, as illustrated in Diagram 38, just in case pressure is applied.





Initiating the opportunity offense against pressure defenses Diagram 39Since the dribbler has moved into the spot where the offense is to be initiated, he will start the pattern. He can pass to the other guard, to the forward, or to the post (see diagram 39). Once he has made one of these passes, the Opportunity Offense is in motion.





Initiating the opportunity offense against pressure defenses Diagram 40


Notice that the guard, taking the ball out of bounds is standing to one side of the goal. Never take the ball out of bounds from directly behind the goal (see diagram 40). There will be occasions when a baseball pass the length of the floor is necessary and we don't want the backboard in the way.

The receiving guard (2) breaks, using a change of direction to receive the in-bounds pass. #2 receives the ball and lets (1) go in front. He then fakes to his right and dribbles with his left hand to the left guard position. He is alert at all times because pressure might be applied quickly and without warning at the center line or at the normal guard position. All these movements are precisely the same as those used when pressure is applied. The only difference is the pace and occasional need to repeat the hook back maneuver several times during one penetration.

Also see: 

Initiating the Opportunity against man-to-man pressure

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