In this post, I will present two simple deviations to the Reverse Option at the end of the fast break, as presented in my book “You Can Run With Anyone” available on Amazon. Both are “quick-hitters” that feature a (4) man who would be one of the key players in the offense. He should be a passer, a scorer, a rebounder, a playmaker, and a good decision maker too. He is the kind of player who can shoot outside, drive, post up, and cut to open areas looking for scoring opportunities. The plays are diagrammed from a right side attack, but they can be taught, practiced, and run from both sides of the court.
The Away play starts with the point guard (1) having the ball. He may have dribbled the ball up court himself on a slow possession or gotten a back pass from the wing (2) or (3). The point guard can signal the play with a wave of his hand to the (4), motioning him to go away. Sometimes the (4) can initiate the play himself by just screening away. In Diagram 1, the (4) screens away for the (3) who v-cuts up to the free throw line or top of the key area. With a good shooter at the (3) position, I would often use this as a quick way to get him open for a shot. If he is not open for a good shot, he dribbles back to his original wing position as (4) ducks to the rim and then v-cuts back to the low post. (Diagram 2) The (5) moves to the high post area for spacing and to occupy his defender. This is a nice option to isolate the (4) at the low post and let him go to work. The (3) is also involved in a two-man game with (4) and the (3) can feed him, then cut to the basket or relocate to a new area.
Meanwhile, on the weak side, (2) takes his defender to the low post as (5) and (1) set up a staggered double screen for him. (Below left) As (2) comes off the double screen, whoever has the ball, (3) or (4), can find him possibly open at the top of the key for a 3 -point shot. (Below right) As he screens, (5) should take a look over his shoulder to see if his defender has switched on to the (2). If so, (5) can step toward (3) for a possible pass if open in the key.
If (2) gets a pass at the top and does not have an open opportunity to shoot, (5) can screen for (4) as the two of them change sides. The (1) heads out to his side and gets beyond the 3-point arc. (Below left) Now (2) has several passing opportunities as shown in the diagram. (Below right) As in all early offensive plays, if a good shot opportunity has not yet developed, the players then move straight to their Motion or Set Offense.
With basically an all right-handed team most years, I usually only ran this Away play by entering from the right side. The (3) was usually very comfortable curling into the pass at the top of the key for his shot. The (4) generally favors the left-low block for his favorite operating spot as a right hander too. If you have a left-handed (4), you will probably find it better to enter this play from the left side.
A counter option in the Reverse Secondary or Lob play is called Kick Back. As in a few other Early Offensive Plays I discussed in my book, I got this option from Jerod Haase while visiting with him in Kansas years ago. It is a very nice option to have for catching a defender anticipating the reverse pass from the top to the wing. Start with the standard Reverse Set and swing the ball from (2) to (4) or from (1) to (4). (Below left) When the ball goes to the (4), the (2) moves to the low block, just as he does on the Reverse Lob Play. The point guard (1) slides down to the wing vacated by (2). The (4) sets up the play by faking a pass to the (3) on the reverse side of the court, hoping to get his defender (X4) to lean that way a little. The (4) then turns back to the right side and throws a pass to (1) as (2) prepares to set a screen on (X4). (Below right)
A good V-cut by (4) off of (2)’s screen will free up the (4) for an easy basket many times. (Diagram below) If X2 helps on (4) cutting to the low post, (2) may be open for a shot at the top of the key. When (4) is not open to receive a pass after coming off the screen of (2), he should cross-screen for (5), just as he does in the Reverse Lob option. This may free either inside players for an open inside shot on a pass from any perimeter player. If not, the offense flows directly into the half-court Motion or Set Offense as usual.
This is a “surprise play” that needs to be set up and run when the defense least expects it. This option can and should be run and practiced on both sides of the court, because the Reverse Lob is run from both sides.
These two Early Plays work very well with a versatile, bigger, better player in the (4) position. But since the (5) sometimes trails the break when the (4) gets out and streaks to the low post, the (5) should also learn to execute these plays. That way you are developing two players who can play the (4) position, covering for one another whenever one of them is out of the game.
I generally teach two Early Plays for Summer League or early in the Winter Season. I add one or two featuring some of the better players at a later date, usually over Christmas Break. This gives the team plenty of time to get use to a couple of plays and work on their execution before moving on to more. A future post will feature two more Early Offense Specials that may be even more suited to your personnel.