Here are a couple of Early Offense options that can work nicely after the initial sprint down the court on a “Numbered” fast break attack. The first example, Reverse Double, is for a good 3-point shooter on the wing, a (2) or (3). The second one, Reverse Lob, could be used when you have an athletic, fairly tall, (4) man, that you would like to feature. Both plays can be run from either side of the floor. Be sure to practice running them from both sides in your workouts.
Reverse – Double
After running the court and pitching the ball ahead to a wing, the Reverse Swing Option was presented in my book, “You Can Run With Anyone.” (Below left) This gives a team three quick looks inside to the (5) at the low post area. If the third option is still not open, (3) to (5), some action on the weak side is appropriate. To set up the Double, after the pass from (4) to (3), the (2) takes his man in and toward the baseline. (Below right) This puts (2) in a great position to receive a staggered, double screen from (4) and (1). The (4) goes first and “head-hunts” the man guarding (2) with his bigger body. The point guard (1) follows up and screens the defender again if he shakes off the initial screen of (4).
This “double action” should get the wing (2) open for a shot around the top of the key. A good 3-point shooter must make sure he is above the 3-point arc when receiving the pass from (3). (Below left) Of course, a mid-range shooter can catch in closer where he is a more consistent shooter.
If the (2) is not able to get a good, open look, the (1) peels out to fill the open side from where (2) came. The (5) can cross screen for the (4) to free him or the (5) himself. (Below right)
The play can continue with a swing pass to the weak side for a shot or a possible post entry. (Below) At this point, if no good shot presents itself, I usually chose to continue into our Motion or Set Offense. It was important to me that we flow from our initial fast break attack, to a “quick hitter” (Early Offense), and then smoothly transition into our regular half court offense. This allowed us to have several great opportunities to score within the confines of the shot clock time limit.
Reverse – Lob
The idea for this play came from watching Roy Williams’ Kansas and later North Carolina teams run something similar. I often had a bigger, well-rounded player, who filled the (4) position for me. If he was athletic enough to go up and catch a lob pass, I liked using the Reverse Lob option as a feature in my Early Offense. It’s really nice if you have someone who can go up, catch a lob pass, and dunk it. But, I never really had that in high school, so we just taught the (4) to catch and put it in off the glass, or catch, bring it down and go back up. You will need to teach your wings (2) and (3) to throw lob passes to the rim. They always seem to enjoy the possible assist and want to work on it themselves too.
This play also starts from the Reverse Swing Option at the end of a fast break. The (2) again heads to the low post, as in Reverse Double. (Below left) When the pass goes from (4) to (3), the (2) comes up and sets a back screen on X4. (Below right) The (4) cuts off the screen and heads towards the far side of the rim as (3) times his lob pass toward the far side and slightly in front of the rim. Even if X2 decides to read the play and help on the lob to (4), he is a guard and would be at a disadvantage for getting up with the (4) to the high pass. The (3) can make it easier on himself for throwing the lob pass by first looking to (5) at the low post, then glancing at the progress of (4) toward the basket. The (3) can then time his pass to (4) by faking a low pass or drive, and then straightening up to toss a two-handed, overhead lob.
If (3) decides not to make the lob pass, he should be able to find the screener (2) open at the top of the key area. (Below Left) When the lob pass is not thrown, the (4) cross screens under the basket for the (5) to create more action and scoring possibilities. If (2) does not have a good shot opportunity, he can look inside for (4) or (5), or maybe swing the ball to the weak side where (1) may be open. (Below Right) As in the earlier mentioned Reverse Double, if these options are all covered, the offense moves directly into the half court Motion or Set Offense. There should be no break in the action and all players need to know how to flow from one part of the fast break to another (Early Offense or Set/Motion). You can practice this in a 5 on 0 sequence to make sure everyone is in sync. Then move to 5 on 5 situations and insist on good shots at all times.
I like having a play in my offense that adds a little flair and excitement to the game. Sometimes we would open with the “lob” to catch an opponent by surprise. At other times, we skipped looking for that option early if we thought it had been scouted and opponents would be looking for it. However, as the game went on, there would be a time or two when the defense got confused and the lob pass was wide open for an easy score. I still see North Carolina run their version now and then in games. When you see the pass and dunk, you might think, “Wow, what a great look.” But actually, it was a play that was rehearsed in practice and patiently set up during the course of the game.
These two Early Offense Options give a coach the opportunity to feature Bigs or Guards, depending on who the better scorers are that particular season. Be sure to practice them with entries on both sides of the court, to either wing (2) or (3).