Introduction to Pattern Play Basketball - Multiple Half-court Offenses
The personnel required for pattern play cannot be classified into a single group. There are simply too many styles of pattern play in basketball to mention them all.
When it comes to pattern play basketball, let me make one thing perfectly clear. It isn't a matter of fitting the personnel to the pattern, but choosing and fitting the pattern to the personnel. Sometimes multiple half-court pattern offenses are set up without a pivot man because there will be times when a post player isn't available. Facts tell us, winning combinations can be developed without the ideal personnel. Seldom does a coach have what can be called perfect material; therefore, changes must be made in the offense to give the available personnel every opportunity to succeed.
A high degree of teamwork and cooperation is necessary to play pattern basketball. There is no place in this style of play for the selfish player, because every effort is being made to get shots in the high-percentage area rather than jack the ball up once it crosses the ten-second line. Many times one more pass will break down the defense and lead to a better shot.
Necessary in any style of play, good ball handling is vital to the success of pattern play. Turnovers kill you; therefore, few mistakes can be afforded in passing, receiving, spacing, and dribbling.
The ball, as well as the players, must be moved. The more movement of ball and players, the better. Movement increases breakdowns in the opponent's defense.
Pattern play basketball in high school, requires one big forward, either 6'5", or 6'6", with the other forward a little smaller. Both these forwards have to be able to rebound with the center, move out fast on the fast break, handle the ball, and shoot on the move.
The guard situation should include one good big, strong player, about 6'2", who can go to the board for rebounding. He needs good speed, and a threat beyond the three-point line. He is one of the main cogs in the sideline fast break that I will deal with, later. The other guard can be smaller. I still believe there is a place in modern-day basketball for the little man. The little man often gives the team something a big man is unable to contribute. He is in the lineup because he is a hustler. This often carries over to the rest of the squad. Better ball clubs have always had an outstanding little man.
In high school, the team with a 6'6" or 6'7" center can utilize the "Big Dog" sideline fast break to good success provided he can consistently get from one end of the floor to the other within 4 seconds. We want him to beat his opposing center down-court every time.
This method can be used at any level of play. The elementary and secondary levels should definitely use the basic fundamentals discussed in in the Fundamental Eight basic plays. In analyzing the trends of today, I would still teach the fundamentals Coach McCutchan taught me 55 years ago and I would teach them everyday. Do it this way from the first day of practice:
The elementary and junior high coach can really benefit and use the above drills. In fact, they could even use each play as a different offense. Junior varsity programs can continue to develop these fundamentals leading right up to the varsity level.
In this article, and those that follow, I will deal with keys to identify and communicate a few types of offenses, allowing you the benefit of multiple offenses, so prevalent, today. It's a simple way of explaining different offensive patterns so that every player understands what is happening in the offense.
If you start analyzing today's offenses, you will always see the above eight fundamental plays popping up. Every offense I studied used at least one of these plays; therefore, it makes sense to adopt each one of them as your own.
My advice is to use them, but select the offensive alignment best suited to the players you have at your disposal. Reread the Fundamental Eight Basic Plays to refresh your memory. You may not always be blessed with that tall deceptive pivot player or that quick talented slick guard. Therefore, determine which plays are best suited to your talent and focus your teaching to those few, say five throughout the season.
In reality, the eight basic fundamental plays actually gives you eight different offenses you can run immediately at the beginning of a season. Simply run the play on one side of the floor and if you don't get a shot, reverse the ball, and run that same play on the other side of the floor. This is simple enough for first graders... after you teach them to balance the floor!
However, rather than run continuous pick and rolls or give and goes, it is preferred to run patterned offenses consisting of two or three of the fundamental eight basic plays.
Don't set your sights on one particular pattern, but give your team a multiple-patterned offense without complicating things. You must teach and practice these eight basic fundamental plays before introducing a 2 or 3 play patterned offense. No matter the level of play, proper execution is most important. That's the reason for using those drills as warm-ups to every practice session.
The eight basic fundamental plays are the basis of for this numbering system. For example, a 13 "one three" play would be a 1 "one-on-one play" followed by a 3 "pick and roll" play. In the heat of battle it is easier to say run a #13 than say, "Take your man one-on-one and if that doesn't get a high percentage shot, pass off and screen the receiver's defender and execute a pick and roll."
Obviously, the more digits involved, the more complicated the offense and takes much longer to explain using words. The options are usually set before the game, given at a timeout or signaled from the bench.
If you are going to run a multiple play, prearrange the second and/or third play options and only call the first number of the play during a game. For example, if you are running 3 as the second option of a #13 play, call out, or signal, "#1."
Here is where the ingenuity and individuality of coaching comes to play. The offensive options best suited for the varsity may not be the best suited for the reserve team; however, you are teaching the same eight basic fundamental plays; thus, implementing any changes becomes easy.
You should always emphasize scoring on the first option, stressing proper execution that usually will get a good shot. However, getting good shots will not always result in a score. A good defense often extends them in defending the first option, which often makes it easier to score on the second option.
The defense is now setup for the 3 option if 1 is a good shooter. Option 3, the pick and roll play is an excellent two-man play and should be executed properly as shown in this diagram. X2 and X5 must defend 1 and 5 on this pick and roll.
Other options might work as well in this situation. Scouting your opponent and game situations, among other things determine the appropriate options to use against a particular opponent. Coaching determines the options, but working every practice session on the eight basic fundamental plays prepares the players for quick adaptation to their use.
Since there are 64 possible play patterns using the two numbering systems, obviously, no team would use them all; however, it lends itself to a widely diversified offense. A set-play type team, in theory, could run a different two-option play every time down the floor and never repeat one during an entire game. I certainly don't advocate this because it would require an extremely intelligent team. One of the most talented basketball players I ever coached had trouble getting past two-option patterns. Yet, most could easily handle three-option patterns.
As in the old days, the point guard is still generally the floor general who calls the plays. He would signal a play in three ways:
Multiple Half-court offenses easily fit into either mode. Many teams huddle both offensively and defensively when a free throw occurs. This is an excellent time to change the offensive set or time to set up a pressing defense.
Games with huge crowds often drown out oral signals and hand signals sometimes become confused. Therefore, to use the multiple half-court offenses advocated here, a card system is recommended and all offensive changes called from the bench. A glance over at the bench tells the player what offense is being used. The advantages are many. Timeouts can be limited.
The card system is not essential, but certainly has proven to be a valuable communication tool. Simply teach your players to glance at the cards and not study them.top of page
Play #4 - Cincinnati Backdoor Trap
Pete Newell and his University of California Golden Bears first used this offense in the 1960 NCAA Tournament. St Louis University used a modification and Ohio State introduced it to the Big Ten during the 1961-62 season. Cincinnati's Coach Jucker's Backdoor Trap series had one purpose. That purpose was to give his big men at the forwards and pivot tremendous scoring power in close to the basket.
Actually. the way they ran their backdoor trap, it could be called a #4 single play continuity. They swung the backdoor pattern from side to side, running it from the left and right and right and left again without pause.
The distinctive feature of the basic pattern is this shuttle movement which alternates the two forwards and pivot players in their positions, one after the other. This keeps big men closer to the basket in their normal positions. It is designed to take advantages of defensive commitments and mistakes in close, where defensive mistakes are always fatal.
#4 Backdoor Trap Basic Pattern
The success of this play in Cincinnati's backdoor series depends on the success of Forward #4 setting up his man for a pick by the Pivot #5. Teach your players to walk their man back toward the Pivot before faking and cutting to the basket. Once the defensive man on #4 commits himself in response to the fake, the Forward breaks opposite that commitment. When the play runs perfectly, #4 is able to go baseline as illustrated the following diagram on the left.
The keying of the play is left to #1 who has the ball. If #1 passes to #3 and cuts around him to the baseline, the play is signaled. #4 must see #3 continue to the baseline before making his own move. Upon seeing this, #4 walks his man into #5, fakes up court then cuts shoulder to shoulder off #5 and take a quick pass under the basket from #3.
In the event #4's defender cannot be faked away from the baseline, #4 can elect to cut above #5 rather than baseline. You should always teach your players to react to the defensive moves and try to take advantage. No matter which direction the defender of #4 commits, he should be forced into a pick by #5, freeing #4.
Since no play can be run perfect every time, there is a possibility that #3 will not be able to make the feed pass into #4. In case of this happening, the players do not stop their movement, but continue in the positions shown in the next diagram. Study this diagram closely, if you wish to understand the flip-flopping motion of this continuous offense. Notice that #4 now occupies the pivot position on the opposite side while #3 becomes the strong Forward and #5 moves out to become the weak side Forward. #2 take the release pass from #3 and we are ready to run the same play from the other side. Meanwhile #1 is coming back outside, prepared to start the whole thing over again should the play miss the second time. It will take six complete shifts before all players are back in their original starting position.
Simple in operation, this continuous offense can be bewildering to the defense. I'll guarantee there will be a defensive mistake at some point during the cycle of six shifts. The aim of it all is to have one of your big men take advantages of that mistake.
You must emphasize that the guards, making the first pass, must cut all the way to the baseline. This prevents his defender from sagging on the feeder. You don't want the strong side clogged up by a sagging guard, especially if the situation calls for the Strong Side Forward to cut high instead of going baseline. For example, if #1 sees that #2's defender is sagging, then #1 should pass to #2 to bring that defender back out before the play begins. #2 should return the pass and the play continue as diagramed on the previous page.
I know from experience this basic play will score once or twice before the defenders sense what you are doing and a good team will adjust to stop any set pattern. Therefore, you need a few surprises and this pattern offers many. This pattern would be my choice of a total offense if I were coaching, today for the following reasons:
Sometimes, as the basic pattern flip-flops from side to side, the weak side guard will notice the defense is beginning to overplay to the outside. This happens when the defender on the weak-side guard begins to sense the movement of the play and concludes that his man always cuts outside the weak-side forward after passing. Against such an overplay, the weak-side guard passes to the forward as before, but cuts quickly down the middle executing the give and go (#2 Play) down the middle for a quick return pass and a lay-up.
On this option it is extremely important that the strong-side forward stay in his original position, foregoing his cut to the basket. Otherwise, there will be two offensive players cutting into the same spot at the same time. Make it a rule that the forwards are not to cut to the basket unless the weak-side guard goes outside the weak-side forward and continues to the baseline.top of page
Play #84 - Adding Guard-Around Options to Backdoor Offense
The backdoor offense pattern offers many different options. In modern basketball it is essential that all players be scoring threats. In the old days, the guards were essentially defensive men, but today do as much scoring as the forwards.
One of these variations would be the Adolph Rupp's old guard-around play options giving it the designated #84 which means a guard-around play followed by the flex cut. The following diagrams show you a couple of these options.
Although I shown a continuity offense using one and two plays, in reality most continuity offences used today are actually a combination of two and three plays run on opposite sides of the floor. Some are more complicated than others; therefore, I'm going to continue using the same backdoor trap offensive set using other plays from those selected basic eight fundamental plays that you should practice every day.
To be continued....
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