Basketball Systems, Skills & Drills

Fast breaks

After a make or miss, the wings run their lanes (wide), bump the baseline except if there is no defender between them and the basket. 5 rim runs then when the ball crosses halfcourt posts below the weakside block after a two-count. Posting away creates space for 1 to penetrate, the ballside wing to drive or backcut, for 5 to flash cut, and an opportunity for a post feed on ball reversal (see Tom Crean fast break, Vance Walberg dribble-drive attack, Tubby Smith motion). However, 1 can cross-grain the ball in the frontcourt to post 5 ballside (see Mavericks fast break). Other options:

- with interchangeable bigs, 4 rims runs if 5 gets a defensive rebound
- if 1-2-3 are interchangeable and 2 or 3 gets a defensive rebound, he pushes the ball and 1 takes his spot (Bradley fast break).
- the wings stay in the deep corners to flatten the defence on the baseline for deeper penetration and larger gaps (Jeff Bauer).

North Carolina - if one big is a good shooter and the other a great low-post guy, they run, a) but the shooter can slow and the other big runs right past him, they go to their comfort zones, or b) the shooter runs and posts, then the other big comes down and screens for him to switch spots (see Fist below).

Tom Crean - the best thing the fast break gives is space.

Many plays in transition are reads triggered by the actions of the point guard and trailer.

- Drag, Fist
- Weak, Quick, Shake
- Swing, Strong, Kickback
- Dribble-clear, Shake, Gator, Dive

See Versoix specials.

Blaine Taylor - if we put in too many secondary options, we lose our push up the floor and opportunity to make plays.

New Jersey Nets - drag pick and pop on the run. 4 circles under the ball and ballscreens beneath the 3-point line (forcing X1 go over the screen), 5 is weakside as 1 comes off the screen (5 relocates). 1 has to be a threat to beat X1 away from the screen. 4 picks and pops (holds). On a pass to 4 popping, he looks for a shot, hi-lo pass to 5 ducking in, or a pass to 3 then he takes one step towards the basket and sprints to pick and roll or pop (forcing X3 to go over the screen).
If X1 goes under the screen, 4 can re-screen (or roll and wipe him out), and will set the screen lower next time.

Option - 4 slips to the basket if his defender shows high outside the ballscreen, or calls a switch, then 5 replaces.

Other options (after 5 relocates)
- 4 picks and pops, 5 punches in (Serbia)
- 3 clears to the other corner, giving 4 more room to pick and pop
- 4 picks and pops if 1 penetrates (Hofstra)
- if 1 drags the dribble to the other swing spot, 4 rolls and 5 replaces (Hofstra)
- 4 picks and rolls if he is not a shooter, 5 replaces.
- 4 picks, rolls and screens for 5
- 5 flarescreens or backscreens for 4
- 1 spin dribbles, 5 ducks in
- 5 stays weakside (unless 1 turns the corner), 1 throws back to 4 who drives.

Jeff Van Gundy - X4 is likely back defending the paint, so a "drag" high pick and roll can take away the show. The ball is above the screen and 4 has his back towards the basket, so if X1 goes under the screen he recovers to 1 in the paint, and 1 is attacking the basket (not east-west) as he comes off the screen. 4 can pick and roll, or hold if a shooter. If a screener can't catch and score on the roll, use him as a screener on the roll.
Ben Braun - optionally have 5 flarescreen for 4. If X1 goes under the screen, 4 re-screens, 1 makes a pullback crossover. Against teams that go under ballscreens it's very important that you don't set screens outside the scoring area, set the screens even closer to the basket to take advantage. 1 can also step back and shoot behind the screen, 4 turns and re-screens for a jumper.
Scott Adubato - a screener steps back for a pass if he reads that the defence is helping on the drive (X4 gaps or sloughs off and X1 goes under the screen).
goxavier.com - middle ballscreen options
- 1 acts like he is going to use 4's screen, spin dribbles, ballside 5 ducks in his man
- 4 rolls, 5 replaces
- 4 pops, 3 clears the ballside corner
- 1 rejects the ballscreen.
Villanova Punch - 1 dribbles at the ballscreen then spin dribbles, ballside 5 seals his defender, 1 passes to 5 or to 3 for a baseline pass to 5. 4 screens away for 2 then rolls to the basket.
Tennessee playbook offence, Late clock #3 - 5 stays weakside, 1 throws back to 4 who drives and can kick out. up


A call. 2, 3 and 5 are flat, trailer 4 screens for 5 to make show guy X5 late. 5 comes up to pick and roll with 1 (head-hunt X1), the trailer crosses the lane low then replaces as 5 rolls.

Option - 5 sets an area screen inside the arc.

Avery Johnson - if X5 jumps out to help or trap and 5 handles the ball well, he separates weakside for a pass, 4 locates to the other side, 5 drives to shoot or kick. If 5 doesn't handle the ball well, he rolls under the basket, 4 becomes pressure-release weakside, on a string as quickly as possible.

Billy Donovan - 1 doesn't want to pass to 5 rolling, there is too much traffic, pass to 4 replacing and let him throw it inside.

Ben Braun - against a hard hedge by X5, 1 hits 2 on the wing, 5 keeps X5 on his back for a pass.

Tennessee playbook Late clock #2 - 4 circles outside 5 (who is ballside), 5 circles inside 4 to pick and roll, 4 replaces. up

Motion series

These are reads, not calls. 1 advance passes ballside to 2 or 3, or reverses the ball to 4. 1 looks to advance pass whenever possible.

Tony Barone - the best teams can go either side of the floor, right or left, but it really is hard to do.

1) Advance pass

a) Weak

1 passes to 2 and cuts through to the weakside block, 5 reads the cut and comes ballside.

Option - 1 can cross-screen for 5, see the Versoix special cross-get, and the Argentina motion offence.

Dribble-entry option - 1 dribble clears 2 to the weakside block, switching roles (see Denials below, and Emir Mutapcic).

2 passes to 4, 1 comes out to the wing, 3 cross-screens for 5. 4 passes to 1 and downscreens for 3, then comes back out to ballscreen if 3 gets a pass and doesn't shoot, 5 replaces.

If 1 has no play, 5 ballscreens (Emir Mutapcic).

Seth Greenberg slice offence - 4 backcuts if denied, 3 replaces him.

Tony Barone - 4 comes back out to pick and roll to the front of the rim on a pass to 3 at the top, 5 replaces. 3 comes off with two dribbles, if he passes to 5, dribble hand-off or pick and roll with 1, 4 is weakside block.

Bill Self - once the initial offensive set has been broken down by the defence, the offence is now in ballscreen mode, it's the best way to get a shot off in a short period of time.

Also see the Spurs 2007 and Tom Crean fast breaks, and Florida 2006 for other options on ball reversal. up

b) Quick

1 makes an early pass to 2 and cuts to the ballside corner, clearing the primary helper on a middle drive by 2. 5 reads the cut and stays weakside.

Jeff Bauer (clearing the gap) - 1 can corner cut or basket cut, corner cuts are useful against trapping defences.

See Houston Rockets clear-out quick hitter (Rocket fuel).

Vance Walberg - if we are dribbling too much, elevate 2 for a pass, 1 cuts hard to the hoop and comes out, 3 elevates, 4 gives 2 a two-count before moving over.

Jerry Petitgoue - they don't drive baseline very often (teams load up on that), but on "through", 1 passes to 2 and goes through, they want a baseline drive by 2.

Spurs 2007 - 1 can make an early pass to 2 and cut to the ballside corner, exchanging positions in the motion attack.

Tom Crean - the best thing is to get the ball in the corner so it can be driven middle.

4 gives 2 a two-count to attack the basket, then picks and rolls (or optionally screens for 1), 1 fills behind the ballscreen, 5 stays weakside, 4 snaps back to post up if 2 passes to 1 breaking out of the corner (Dallas Mavericks). X4 will be late showing on 2 if he is back in the lane to help, 2 will have more room to drive middle if X4 denies 4.

Look to use 3 to hit roll man 4. 4 will slip if X4 shows high outside the screen or defenders switch, optionally 5 flashes high for a pass (Dave Smart) or into another pick and roll (Billy Donovan).

Tom Crean - it's a shake (automatic quick) if 1 cuts to the ballside corner.

Bill Self ballscreen offence - with 1 in the corner 4's chest faces the sideline, make X2 go over the top, if he goes under, bury him with a reverse-pivot butt screen. After screening, dive and post, or screen for 1 sprinting up to replace 2. Weakside 5 has a number of reads, including a fade screen for 3 if X3 is in a help position. 2 clears to the weakside corner on a throw-back to 1, who can shoot, post feed 4, hit 5 flashing for a high-low if 4 is fronted, or wait for 5 to step out and ballscreen.

Euro ballscreen attack - the other big always comes high on a sidescreen, and can ballscreen if the screener slips the screen.

Mark Few - the fill guy is as important as the ballhandler or screener in a ballscreen, as his defender helps on the roll, he fills up back behind the screen.

Nets early offence - if 1 cuts to the ballside corner, 4 must pick and roll not pop. 5 can duck in, space out to the weakside corner if he is a shooter, or go flare the help (screen for 3).

coachesclipboard.ca - roll and rise - 1 lifts off the baseline to create a triangle with 2 and 4 rolling.

Mike MacKay - at the 2009 World Junior Championships, the majority of 3-point shots came from
- pick and pop, off the side or top
- pick and roll, hit the perimeter shooter when his check helps on the roller
- pass out of the post on a double-team
- penetration and perimeter defender helps
- trailer walking into a 3 as the defence flattens out to stop transition
- 1-on-1 late clock, when a switch creates a mismatch, or at the end of quarter.

Ben Braun - attack teams on the backside, a lot of teams end up zoning because they over-help on the ballscreen.

For other options on a corner cut (e.g., to avoid a ballscreen), see Versoix specials, also Tony Barone.

Progression - 4 can run Quick even if 1 cuts weakside after passing to 2. 5 comes ballside on the cut by 1, 4 sprints to ballscreen for 2.

Billy Donovan (Florida 2006) - if 4's man is back in the lane, it's an automatic pick and roll, X4 is late showing on 2.

1 backscreens for 5, then 4 screens for 1 (Tubby Smith, Larry Brown) or 1 backscreens for 4 (Tar Heels).

Also see Old Dominion wave-on ballscreen. up

c) Shake

1 advance passes ballside and stays, or fakes a basket cut and self replaces (see the Suns 5-out fast break). It's an automatic shake pick and roll if he gets a return pass, 4 head hunts. 5 stays weakside. If 1 throws back to 2, 4 posts up. See Spurs 2007, Bill Self secondary.

Bill McNally - 2 dribbles baseline to flatten out the defence, then passes back to 1, who can reject the screen and drive the basket if X4 hedges. 4 picks and pops if he is a shooter, otherwise he picks and rolls, (ballside) 5 replaces.
Dallas Mavericks - 5 can duck in from the weakside, or be ballside and replace as 4 rolls.

Bruce Pearl - 4 picks and pops, 5 is ballside and "points" (follows the ball across the lane), if 1 passes to 4, 4 can dribble hand-off with 2 (circle back). 1 can dribble hand-off with 3.
Unicaja Junior fast break - 4 needs space to play in isolation, so 2 has to move to the other side when the ballscreen is set (in the same way, 5 will go to the opposite low post). Also see Serbia U20.
For other plays on an advance pass and stay (e.g., to avoid a ballscreen), see

a) Tony Barone - 1 stops and pops when the defence sucks in on the pass to 2, 4 automatically pins down for 3 on a return pass to 1 ("go" play), see Gator below.

b) Larry Brown - dive is automatic on the pass from 1 to 2 and back, Dean Smith would run flex. Also see Larry Brown High screen and Villanova Punch. up

2) Ball reversal to 4

1 passes to 4, 5 ducks in, 2 walks his man down to set him up for a wide pin-down. 4 can pass to 3, or back to 1.

See Tubby Smith and Bradley fast breaks.

Spurs 2007 - 1 passes to 4, takes two steps to the basket and walks down to screen for 2.

Vance Walberg - to get the ball inside, pass from 1 to 4 to 3 then 5.

If 4 passes to 3, 1 pins down for 2, 4 can ballscreen for 3 or stagger screen with 1.

a) Swing

4 follows his pass for a pick and roll or pop if 3 does not attack the close-out (give him a two-count), 1 clears to the corner, 5 goes out weakside and can punch into the lane if 4 pops.
Option - if 4 slips the screen, 5 sprints to set a second ballscreen, see Dive-fist below, and Dive-post in Versoix specials.

LSU - when 1 passes to 4 it's an automatic ballscreen, 4 passes to 3 and follows for a pick and roll.

Mark Few - anytime a big catches the ball up top it's an automatic pass and follow with a ballscreen.

Bradley - there are two primary options on ball reversal, a staggered screen for the wing or the trailer follows his pass to ballscreen. 5 reads the action on the ballscreen and moves to the opposite block, the point guard screens away to occupy defenders and free up a possible kick-out.

Billy Donovan "dribble" - 4 dribble-handoffs with 3 and goes to the ballside corner, 5 sprints to a ballscreen.

See North Carolina sweep, also Nets offence and early offence, and Tubby Smith Swing. up

b) Strong

4 passes to 3 and stagger screens with 1 for 2, 5 posts to the ball when 4 screens away.

4 reads X2 twice, first to set the screen on 1's outside or inside shoulder (X2 chases manside or goes ballside on the first screen), then to hold or adjust his screen (X2 goes manside or ballside of 4). See the LSU fast break.

- 1 flarescreens for 4 (a shooter) on a pass to 2
- 2 can reject the stagger screen and run the baseline, 1 uses 4's screen.
Tennessee playbook
- 1 flarescreens for 4 on a pass to 2
- 2 can reject the stagger screen and go back to the corner, 1 uses 4's screen.
Bill Self - if defenders switch, probably 1 will act like he is screening, 2 acts like he is coming off the screen then pops back to replace himself, 4 screens for 1.
Dennis Felton (Georgia) - they get a ton of shots off the stagger. Felton wants the stagger in the paint, so 2 v-cuts deep. X2 has to run into 4. 1 clears to the wing. On the pass to 4, 2 could instead flarescreen for 1 then 4 screens for 2, pick the picker.

Bill Self - 1 gets behind the arc once 2 clears his screen, 4 slips and finds ball after screening.

Bradley - 1 cuts to the ballside corner off 5 after screening, or 2 can use the baseline, and 1 comes back out using 4.

Spurs 2007 - on a pass to 2 out top, 1 goes to the left wing using a double screen from 3 and 5 then 3 goes to the corner for a triangle. Either 1 or 2 can slip early to the ballside corner, the other player comes out off 4.

Tubby Smith - 5 stays weakside, they are looking for a curl cut.up

c) Kickback

4 passes back to 1, 2 rip screens for 4, who rolls to the rim or ballscreens for 1 (rip-get). 5 gets out and up to the weakside elbow, and ballscreens if 1 passes to 2 (rip-fist). 1 can dribble to the wing to improve the passing angle to 4.

Option - 4 can ballscreen for a baseline drive by 1 (step-up ballscreen).

Rip - a call, 1 does not pass to 4, 2 rip screens for 4 (see Spurs 2007), or as a read, 1 dribbles at 2 (see Versoix specials).

North Carolina kickback - 4 passes back to 1 when 3 is overplayed.

Larry Brown kickback - 3 is denied (or a called play), 2 backscreens on the pass back to 1, 4 can basket cut off the screen or ballscreen for 1.

Hubie Brown - 5 comes high as 4 cuts, and ballscreens if there is a pass to 2.

Nets offence - "rip" is called on the run. 4 ballscreens for 1 (rip-get) if X4 goes behind the backscreen, if 1 passes to 2 up top after the backscreen for 4, 5 comes out to ballscreen. If 3 is denied, 4 will pass fake to 3 then dribble hand-off with 1.

Seth Greenberg - anytime they can't reverse the ball from the high post to the wing, they automatically dribble hand-off back the other way.

Bill Self high-low motion - if 3 is denied, it's an automatic backdoor, one bounce by 4, then backcut by 3 (the key is that 5 is posting in the middle of the lane), if there is no pass on the backdoor, 3 comes back out because X3 has to snap his head if he is overplaying.

Spurs 2007 - if denied, 3 backcuts and keeps going, 4 dribble hand-offs the other way.

See North Carolina backdoor double - 1 and 5 stagger screen for 2 when 3 goes backdoor.
John David Jackson (FIBA Assist issue 43) - if X4 goes high over the screen, 4 cuts directly to the block; if X2 bumps the cut, 4 downscreens to free up screener 2; if X4 goes under the screen, 4 runs out to ballscreen with his man out of position. Try to give an undersized big (a 5) an advantage by running his man off a diagonal entry screen.up


If the defence denies perimeter passes, 1 looks to attack the basket or get the ball inside to 5. Other counters are Dribble-clear, Shake, Gator, and Dive.

Dave Smart - if the defence is denying everywhere, your ballhandler should be the guy with a matchup.

Dennis Felton - if the defence denies the perimeter, get the ball inside to 5, or put it on the floor and get to the rim.

Roy Williams - if 5 works his butt off the defence won't pressure on the perimeter because he will kill them inside.

a) Dribble-clear

A read. 2 is denied, 1 dribble pushes him backdoor to the weakside block, run Weak (or optionally Quick) if there is no pass on the backcut, switching roles.

See Vance Walberg dribble-drive attack.

Stan Peters - 1 waves through 2.

Tony Barone - 1 dribble pushes 2 to the ballside corner, run a flex cut.

For other options on a dribble-at entry, see Kickback above, Versoix specials (Rip, Pistol down, Pitt), and Tony Barone.

With a ballside low post, run blind pig (5 flashes to the high post, 2 backcuts on a pass to 5, 1 replaces 2), or 5 backscreens for 2, see the Nets quick hitter and Villanova (Pin), Gonzaga and Barker offences. up

b) Shake

1 raises his fist to call 4 over for a shake pick and roll without first passing to 2. It is more effective if show guy X4 is back in the lane, if he is denying 4, optionally 2 backscreens for 4 rolling, then pops. 

Tubby Smith drag - 2 and 4 are denied, 1 calls for the ballscreen, 2 backscreens for 4.

North Carolina dribble - 4 is denied, 1 looks at 4 and starts dribbling at him (or points to the ground), 4 ballscreens, 2 backscreens.

Ben Braun - if trailer 4 is denied he takes one step to the basket then comes right up to ballscreen and pops, it's hard for X4 to deny the trailer and hedge on the ballscreen. 1 doesn't want to go sideways (east-west), he wants to come off at angle. Optionally 5 is ballside and backscreens for 4.

Billy Donovan - 4 ballscreens if there is no advance pass and X4 is back in the lane. 4 picks and pops, 5 is ballside and stays (on any middle ballscreen), if X4 shows on 1 and X5 helps in the lane, look for a hi-lo pass to 5.

Option - if 1 turns the corner, 4 pops and 5 relocates.up

c) Gator

A read or call. 4 is denied and pins down for 3, 5 crosses the lane, 1 passes to 3, 5 backscreens for 1 then picks and rolls with 3, 4 replaces.

See Florida 2005 fast break, Florida pick and roll offence for a different entry,

Billy Donovan - 4 pins down if there is no shake ballscreen.

Dennis Felton - the high post screens away any time he is denied.

North Carolina B-3 - 4 screens for 3 if denied.

Tony Barone - 4 pins down if 1 passes to 2 and gets a return pass.

Blaine Taylor - the problem with a trail downscreen is that you are now double low, which allows for post help and restricts penetration by the point guard.

Swing special #2 - 1 dribble hand-offs to 3 coming off 4's screen, 5 picks and rolls, 2 clears to the other corner.

Also see Serbia U20, Horns 23 backscreen, and Versoix specials for other trail pin-down options, e.g., 2 runs the baseline using 5 and 4. up

d) Dive

A read. 4 is denied, 1 reverse dribbles or just drives right at him, 4 dives and clears, 1 passes to 3, 5 ballscreens and rolls. It is better for 4 to be late than early, don't go backdoor before 1 can make a play. If 5 is a roll guy, 4 gets out of the lane. If 5 pops (short corner), 4 ducks in from the weakside. 1 and 2 space weakside.


- 5 can cross the lane when he sees the play then come back to ballscreen
- 5 can set a flat (butt) ballscreen, see Bill Self ballscreen offence and Florida 2006 fast break.

North Carolina dive - 1 doesn't want 4 to pin down for 3, he reverse dribbles, 3 comes up for a pass, they want him to get it on the side.

Larry Brown - 4 can go to the ballside corner for a 4-out ballscreen, with no punch guy, it's hard to cover the roll guy.

Nets offence - if 4 is denied, the first thing is for him to start higher, taking his defender out and opening up the middle for 1. Or 1 can dribble at X4 (dribble reaction), 4 takes one quick step then uses his inside hand to go backdoor off his defender's hip looking for a left-hand bounce pass.

Billy Donovan - he loves a flat ballscreen because the defence has to go deep under it to get through, and if the ballscreen is overplayed, it is easy to switch the angle to catch the defence.

Mark Few - run two different ballscreens, regular (chest to the sideline) and flat (if you guess and show on one side, the screener will just pivot to switch the angle and you're burned).

Ben Braun - any time a low post is fronted or denied from the low side, it's a perfect time to ballscreen, it's hard for his defender to deny and help out.

See Spurs 2007, Tubby Smith, Larry Brown dive-post option. up

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2007-13 Eric Johannsen