The two Early Offense Plays I will present this time were two that I used later in my coaching career. Generally, I used them for really good players that I had at the time, or with veteran teams that already had 3 or 4 Early Offensive Plays down pat.
The Reverse Pick is a nice, quick-hitting option that works well as a counter with the Reverse Double or Reverse Lob presented earlier. I especially liked using it with a hot shooter or late in a game if quick shots were needed. The play starts with the regular Reverse Play, again looking for the high/low opportunity to the (5). (Below left) When (4) continues the reverse to the (3) , the (4) can call for the Pick Play by raising a fist as he looks at (3). The (2) heads to the low post as he normally does in the Reverse Play. As (2) notices (4) raising a fist or moving toward the opposite wing, it is his key that Reverse Pick is on. (Below right)
The (4) moves to the ball and sets a ball screen for the (3). The (2) reads the play and sets a screen on (X5) so the (5) can cross under the basket. (Below left) The (3) dribbles off the screen of (4) and looks for a quick mid range jumper or possible drive to the basket. The (2) immediately moves to the wing after (5) cuts under the basket. (Below right)
Besides shooting or driving himself, (3) has several options as he gets to the key area. If (X5) steps in to stop (3) on a drive, a pass to an open (5) will be there. The (4) rolls to the basket after (3) uses his pick and looks for a Pick and Roll option pass. (Below left) The (3) can also choose to hit either wing with a pass and a post up for the two bigger players (4) and (5) might be open. (Below right) With no decent scoring opportunities at this point, the play should immediately evolve into the Motion or Set Offense.
Today’s basketball philosophy does not favor a mid range jump shot, like the one available to (3) early in this play. But I have had some players who were very good at 15-17 foot shooting, but not so good at 3-point range. Their favorite shot was the mid range jumper, so they were very comfortable with this play. If a 3-point shot was really needed, the shooter could choose to stay behind the arc and go for it. What I like about the drive off the screen toward the free throw line is that it really puts pressure on the defense. The driver is attacking the middle of the key and has many options from there.
As in most other Early Plays, this can be run on both sides of the court and should be practiced as such. If one wing or the other is a better scorer, then the point guard should start the play on the opposite side from the “scorer” when a key basket is needed.
The “UP” is a version of a play I saw Bill Self use with one of his earlier teams. It is designed to post up a key big man. I used it later in the season as an added Early Offense when I wanted to post a certain Big. It was useful because we did not have to run Reverse to get into it. The point guard would call it when he had to dribble up court, generally in a delayed action or back court OB. Sometimes you will need Early Offense that starts with the (1) bringing the ball up court because the wings may be covered. In my book, “You Can Run With Anyone,” I discuss the High Post Backdoor and the Fist Play for the Point Guard in just such a situation. The “UP” play is in that category of “what to do” when the point guard can not pitch ahead safely on the fast break.
The “UP” begins with the point guard dribbling at a wing player who then moves down to the low post area. Sometimes we had the point guard wave the wing down to the low post area if he was unclear as to the play call. The (4) and (5) set up in a Double High Set, one at each corner of the free throw line. The (3) moves to the corner to draw his defender lower. (Below left) If one or the other of these two bigger players was better at posting up, or if we specifically wanted to post a certain player, he would set up opposite from where the ball was headed. This play can also be run from a Double High Set, with (4) and (5) both at the high post to start. The point guard can then dribble to the side opposite the better post player to set him up. As (1) dribbles close to the wing, (5) goes down and sets a rub screen for the (2) who moves straight up the lane line. The (1) then finds (2) above the arc and hits him with a pass. (Below right)
The (4) crosses the key and sets a pick on (X2) to set up a pick and roll play. The (2) looks at (3) as he dribbles off the pick of (4), then sees if (4) is open rolling to the basket. (Below left) This pass may be there sometimes, but is not the key option in this play. As (4) rolls to the basket, (5) sprints to the high post, straight up the lane line. (Below right)
A pass is made back across the key from (2) to (5). (See Below) Meanwhile, (4) steps into his man and seals him off to open a passing lane inside. Because (X4) often hedges or switches on the pick and roll, (4) will be in a great position under the basket to score easily. Usually the (5) can hit the (4), but sometimes (5) will have to swing the ball to the (1) and let him get the assist.
Seldom does this play not get an easy shot inside. When it does not work, as always, we would flow right into our Motion or Set Offense. There should be no “reset” or “setup,” just a smooth transition into a regular half court offense. This is accomplished through repeated practice of “5 on 0” and “5 on 5” drills full court. But remember, don’t give the team too much too soon. Present one or two Early Offensive Plays early in the season and work to get them down perfectly. Then add another special play that you need for a better player. Once we got to league and had four Early Offensive Plays, we seldom had to set up into Motion or Set Offenses. Run correctly, Quick Hitters will get you excellent shots before the opponents can organize their half court defense. That is always the Goal.
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