Basketball Systems, Skills & Drills

Fast breaks
Versoix specials

These plays can flow out of the open-post Versoix secondary break without having to re-set. Many could be automatic reads based on passing and cutting action.

1) Ballscreen
- Spread fist, Step-up, Stagger shake
2) Pistol action
- Pistol down, Pistol up
3) Reversal to the trailer
- Backscreen-stagger, Backscreen-ballscreen, Dive-post
4) Advance pass, stay
- Carolina backscreen
5) Advance pass, go opposite
- Cross-get, Triangle, Cougar
6) Advance pass, corner cut
- Mavs, Corner ballscreen, Corner stagger, Shuffle-stagger, Shuffle-triangle
7) Trail pin-down
- Baseline runner, Pin-down curl, Wing stagger
8) Flex
- Flex hold, Flex fist
9) High-post flash
- Knicks handback
10) Dribble entry
- Rip, Pitt

1) Ballscreen

a) Spread fist
5 comes up to pick and roll with no inside big, the screen can be flat or angled either way, teammates space away.

Dave Leitao - Phoenix screen -a lot of times at the end of the shot clock it's a flat screen, the wings drop to the corners, the ballhandler's partner spaces out.

Tennessee playbook - Late clock #1 - 5 screens middle if X1 is forcing middle, or screens sideline if X1 is forcing sideline.

Ryan Krueger - if X1 tries to force 1 to one side of a flat screen (usually weak hand), 1 will move to that side then spin back off the screen.

Tony Bergeron - ballscreen with 5 to get a big defender out of the post.

Villanova spread offence (FIBA Assist 37) - 5 starts in the post and sprints to either slot to set a ballscreen, with his back parallel to the sideline.

Mark Few - as his defender helps on 5's roll, 3 fills up back behind the screen. A 4 that can shoot in the fill spot is extremely dangerous.

Lawrence Frank - 3 fills up to the wing.

Marc Hart - 1 High - 4 loops in front of 1 to the ballside wing area (above the foul line), 5 runs right off 4's butt to pick and roll.
See Quick hitter - PG shallow cut, Tactics - Van Gundy ballscreens (Shake), Lawrence Frank ballscreens (Strong).up

b) Step-up

5 sets a step-up ballscreen for 1, 2 clears weakside.

Lawrence Frank
- L-action - 4 also ballscreens for 1, to go middle. NBA playoff basketball comes down to the play after the play.
See Offence - Swing (special no. 1), Quick hitter - Nets. up

c) Stagger shake

5 and 4 stagger ballscreen for 1, 5 rolls, 4 pops.

Billy Donovan - 1 can use the stagger ballscreen, or dribble at 3 and send him backdoor or make a dribble hand-off and 3 uses the screens.

Ben Braun - 5 or 4 will slip to the basket if their man helps on the ballscreen, if they know X5 will hedge, 3 will pop to the wing for a pass from 1 and hit 5 slipping to the basket (a bounce pass away from the defence).
See Xavier middle ballscreens for options (e.g., 5 turns and flarescreens for 4), also Tom Crean Clear 40 (2 goes backdoor), Mike D'Antoni double drag (4 downscreens for 3). up

2) Pistol action

a) Pistol down (dribble drag)

1 dribbles at 3 for a hand-off (or backcut), 3 gets a ballscreen from 4.

Bill McNally (wedge)

- 3 walks his man away to set him up, 1 can fake the hand-off and drive baseline
- lift 5 to screen with 4 (double wedge).

Ben Braun - 5 is opposite the ball, 3 can go backdoor if his man helps or cheats on the hand-off.
Variation - 5 ballscreens for 3, 2 flarescreens if 4 is a shooter, see Xavier middle ballscreens (Flip wide).
Ben Jacobson - if your point guard hands off on the wing, consider running him off a double screen to the other side of the court (see Tennessee playbook, Play call #4, and Pitt below).
See Nets fast break, also Trail quick hitter and Izzo quick strikes. up

b) Pistol up

1 passes ahead to 3 and follows for a handback, 4 flarescreens for 3, then ballscreens for 1 if there is no pass to 3. 4 ballscreens for 3 if there is no handback to 1.

Variation - 3 sets a step-up ballscreen for 1, then uses 4's flarescreen.

European offence - among the plays that start with a pass, the most common one is a clear-out (isolation play) that starts with a hand-off pass between the guards, followed by a flarescreen.

See the Nets early offence, Izzo quick strikes, Memphis fast break, Quick hitter - Lob options (Pistol up). up

3) Reversal to the trailer

a) Backscreen-stagger

1 passes to 4 and cuts using 5's backscreen.

5 and 4 stagger screen for 2 on a pass to 3.

Option - 5 and 4 stagger screen for 1 on the pass to 2.

See Quick hitters - Pecora slash, Diagonal backscreen to stagger, and Offences - Spanish Women,
Carleton Ravens, and Xavier fast break (Thru).up

b) Backscreen-ballscreen

Based on a Tom Izzo halfcourt set.

5 backscreens for 4 on a return pass to 1, then picks and rolls with 1, 4 replaces.

See Offence - Swing (Special #3).
goxavier.com - in a similar play, 5 starts at the high post in a 2-3 (Princeton) set.up

c) Dive-post

4 passes to 3 then dives and posts, 5 ducks in on the pass to 4 then comes high, look for a high-low pass if 4 is fronted.

See Quick hitters - Drag and pull, Butler ballscreens, also Horns 1 dive and pull, and Larry Brown dive post.

5 ballscreens if 3 has no play (Dive-fist).

Peter Lonergan - pass and post cut by 4, 5 circles up to set the on-ball screen.

4) Advance pass, stay

1 advance passes to 2 and stays. Note that plays using reversal to the trailer (above) could start this way to flatten the defence.

a) Carolina backscreen

Look to get the ball inside, 5 can v-cut into the lane on the pass to 2, or wait for a skip pass or quick ball reversal to seal his man (shown). 2 can pass back to 1 or skip pass to 4 (shown) or 3, optionally 5 pinscreens X3 if he is playing sagging help defence.

Jeff Bauer - weakside post play is a great time to screen, v-cut, or wait for a skip pass. Although a flash to the ball is basic, this should be the least-used option on the weakside - don't chase the ball (unless the big is dominant). Use v-cutting to seal a defender, not to run to the opposite lane line. Waiting for a skip pass allows the big to get a post feed off quick ball reversal, stepping into the defender deep in the paint as the pass is in the air. Anytime the ball is on or moving to his side of the floor, the big should step into his defender and seal him in the paint (leg whip or pin and spin). The post looks to pinscreen on the lane line any weakside defender who is in or near the paint.

Roy Williams - 1 passes to 4 if 2 is denied, most of the time get it to 2. 2 can skip pass to 4 or 3 if ball reversal is denied. 2, 1, 4 and 3 all try to throw inside to 5 (he starts ballside), he is always the first option (you may not want 4 making the high-low pass). If 5 works his butt off, the defence won't pressure on the perimeter because he will kill them inside.

Tubby Smith - the ball is reversed from 1 to 4 to 3, or 1 passes to 2 who skip passes to 4 or 3 (moving up on the weakside wing), or 1 skip passes to 3.

Larry Brown - 2 busts to the block on a skip pass to 4.

4 looks inside and swings the ball to 3, 2 goes to the weakside block then backscreens for 4. 3 can dribble up to improve the angle for the lob pass (Larry Brown).

Larry Brown, Roy Williams - on a pass to 2 out top, 4 screens for 5 (Williams - 5 always goes low).

Roy Williams - 4 can follow his pass to 3 and ballscreen, 2 screens for 5 (Sweep).

Run Kickback if 4 passes to 1, see Versoix fast break.
See Xavier fast break (Swing).up

5) Advance pass, go opposite

a) Cross-get

1 advance passes to 3, cross-screens for 5, 4 downscreens for 1 then goes to the weakside block, 5 ballscreens (Nets cross-get). 4 can come back out to ballscreen on a pass to 1 (Nets cross-fist, Suns 5-out fast break).

Option - 5 can set a flat (butt) ballscreen, see Bill Self ballscreen offence and Florida 2006 fast break.


- 3 cross-screens for 5, 4 downscreens for 3 (Serbia U20), this can be done on a dribble-push by 1, exchanging roles (see Dribble entry below)
- 1 does not advance pass, 3 cross-screens for 5, 4 dives on a pass to 5 (Mike D'Antoni).
- after the cross-screen by 1, 1 and 4 stagger screen for 2 (Suns 5-out fast break)
- 5 does not ballscreen for 3 (Nets cross)
- 5 does not ballscreen, get into Argentina triangle motion
- 5 ballscreens, 4 does not downscreen for 1 (Jeff Bauer, Herb Brown cross four get).

Cross-get is similar to Weak, but without ball reversal.

See Offence - Kelbick 1-4 high (play for weakside post). up

b) Triangle

1 passes to 3 and cuts to the weakside corner using a backscreen from 5, 4 pins down for 2, 5 ballscreens for 3. 1 can bump and fade if X1 goes ballside of the backscreen (Hubie Brown).

- 1 can basket cut, backscreen for 5 rolling and pop out to the wing
- 1 can cut to the ballside corner then lift on the pick and roll (see Break 3 offence, Slice quick hitter), optionally 5 screens for 1 after the ballscreen (Bill Self)

Variation - 4 stays high on the weakside to reverse the ball to 2 and follow to ballscreen, or dribbles at 2 to send him backdoor then dribble hand-offs with 1 (see Cougar below).

Tom Izzo - 1 cuts opposite his defender (take the path of least resistance), and must get a layup or make X5 help. Miami option - 5 rolls and downscreens for 1 to come back out the same side.

Maccabi Tel Aviv quick hitter - 1 backscreens for 5 rolling, then pops out.

Ben Braun - X5 is going to have trouble helping on two screens.

Bill Self variation - 5 steps out top for a pass from 3 who then downscreens for 1 and clears, 5 passes to 1 on the wing and follows to ballscreen.

Also see Offences - Barker triangle, New Jersey Nets, and Horns - 23 triangle, stagger, Florida.

Option - 1 can pass to 5 at the high post, run blind pig. up

c) Cougar

1 passes to 2 and clears to the weakside corner, 5 crosses the lane, 2 passes to 4 who dribbles at 3 who backcuts.

4 dribble hand-offs with 1 (or passes and follows to ballscreen), 5 and 2 stagger screen for 3.
5 posts on a throw-back to 4.
Variation - 1 passes to 2 and cuts to the weakside low post, 4 dribble hand-offs with 3 (1 and 3 swap roles).

See Offences - 1-4 Dive Series, Kowalczyk ballscreen, Carleton Ravens, Quick hitters - Iverson, Staggered zipper. up

6) Advance pass, corner cut

a) Mavs

1 passes to 3 and cuts to the ballside corner, 5 flashes to the ball to post up and form a triangle with 1 and 3, then picks and rolls if he doesn't get a pass. 5 snaps back to post up if 3 passes to 1 breaking out of the corner on the pick and roll. If 5 slips a ballscreen, the ball is reversed to 2, 4 follows to ballscreen (see the Florida pick and roll offence).

Variation - 4 pins down for 2 weakside and gets inside.

See the Mavs fast break and Punch quick-hitter.

Billy Donovan - 4 sprints to the weakside short corner if he is a non-shooter, 2 flarescreens if 4 is a shooter. See Florida 2006.

Ben Braun - a flash post situation is a great time to ballscreen, take a step higher if the defender is working hard to deny a pass, but don't take him off the hook by coming out too high. up

b) Corner ballscreen

1 passes to 3 and cuts to the ballside corner, 5 crosses the lane to post, 3 passes back to 1, 5 backscreens for 3 then picks and rolls with 1, 4 pins down for 2.

Tom Crean - a corner cut is a good way to get the ball back to the point guard.

Bill Self - a corner ballscreen is a good change-up option.

Option - 5 ballscreens for 3 (Mavs, above) if there is no pass to 1.

See Quick hitter - Canes, Offences - Tom Crean (53 motion), Bill Self ballscreen, New Jersey Nets. up

c) Corner stagger

1 passes to 2 and corner cuts, 2 and 4 stagger screen for 1 when the ball is reversed to 3.

See the LSU fast break, Bill Self high-low motion, and Naked post in 4-out 1-in motion. up

d) Shuffle-stagger and e) shuffle-triangle

1 passes to 2 and cuts to the ballside corner, 5 flashes to the ball, 4 comes over for a pass, 2 shuffle cuts using 5

Option - 2 does not shuffle cut until 4 passes to 3, see Tubby Smith fast break (fist), Bill Self motion entries (Illini), Tennessee playbook call #1.

See the Shuffle-double-double quick hitter - 5 is ballside, 1 UCLA cuts using 5.
Variation - 2 acts like he is going to shuffle cut off 5, 5 changes his angle to set a pin-down screen for 2, 4 dribble handoffs with 2 (Xavier newsletter #2, 2010-11).

d) Shuffle-stagger

4 passes to 3, 5 and 4 stagger screen for 1.

Progressions on a pass to 1,

- 5 and 4 stagger screen for 2 (Bill Self, Shuffle-double-double), or
- 2, 5 and 4 screen for 3 who runs the baseline (Argentina flex, Seth Greenberg slice - 3 is a better shooter than 2, Tennessee playbook).
Variation (Xavier) - on the pass to 3, 2 acts like he is going to shuffle cut off 5, who then changes his screening angle at the last second to stagger screen with 4 for 2.up

e) Shuffle-triangle

If 2 doesn't get the ball after the shuffle cut, he turns and screens for 5 then uses a downscreen from 4, who will come back out to pick and roll on a pass to 2.

See the Memphis fast break.

7) Trail pin-down

a) Baseline runner

5 crosses the lane, 4 pins down for 3.

1 passes to 3, 2 runs the baseline using 5 and 4, 5 flarescreens for 1, and can ballscreen for 3 if there is no pass.


- if 3 dribbles over to shorten a pass, 5 UCLA screens for 3 on a pass to 1
- 5 re-screens for 1 to come back if there is no pass (UConn).

See Horns - Zipper, Fast breaks - Basketball Highway, Serbia U20, Florida 2006, Xavier, Offences - Bill Self motion entries ("Blue"), 4-out 1-in motion, UConn 3-out 2-in motion, Quick hitter - Lob options.

b) Pin-down curl

5 crosses the lane, 4 pins down for 3 who curls the screen and keeps going to the other corner.
Variation - 5 and 2 screen for 3, see Fast breaks - Mavericks (zipper action), North Carolina (B-3 counter).

4 pops for a pass from 1 who follows for a handback, 4 can then ballscreen.

See Mike D'Antoni (quick series), Duke down series, and Spurs 2007 (Strong) for the two-man game.

Also see Tony Barone - the trail pin-down is automatic if 1 passes to 2 and gets a return pass, and there is more to the ending of the play. up

c) Wing stagger

5 and 4 stagger screen for 3.


- 5 and 4 then stagger screen for 2 on a pass to 3, see Serbia U20 and Lon Kruger Gator quick hitter
- 2 also screens for 3, for a single-double.

Mike D'Antoni - 1 passes to 2 and cuts to the ballside corner, 2 passes to 3.

Also see Flex fist below and Gonzaga offence.
Variation - up-and-down screen - when 5 see a trail pin-down screen by 4, he walks up the lane to set a second downscreen for 3.
Single-double - 2 also screens for 3, if 3 uses 2, 5 flarescreens for 4.
Xavier fast break (Shallow) - 4 and 5 up-and-down screen for 3, 1 dribbles at 2 who backcuts then button hooks.
John David Jackson (FIBA Assist issue 43) - if 4 is a shooter ("tweener"), 3 should curl around the second screen to the basket or other corner, 5 then flarescreens for 4, who flares out behind the arc, which often forces X5 to switch, and 5 flashes to the block where he can post up smaller X4. If 4 passes to 5, he should immediately make a cut to the basket or perimeter exchange to create further difficulty for his bigger, less-mobile defender. If 4 is the first screener in the stagger, 3 should fake using the stagger and make a baseline backdoor cut (causing X4 to help), then 4 uses 5's screen.up

8) Flex

a) Flex hold

2 flex cuts using 5 then clears opposite, 5 ducks in (Gary Williams - rollback). 1 passes to 2, 5 or 4, who can pass directly inside to 5 or dribble down and pass.

See Larry Brown, Maryland flex (hold), Argentina flex, Flex specials, and Swing special 5.


- 4 fades away before getting a pass from 1, see Larry Brown, and Flex fist below
- 3 and 1 stagger screen for 2 on the pass to 4, see Maryland flex.

For reads, see Nets offence, Maryland flex, Hubie Brown triangle (e.g., 2 bumps and fades if X2 goes ballside of the screen).

Jeff Bauer (and Bob Huggins) - 2 should go over the flex screen, X5 must help if a solid screen is set.

Tubby Smith 30 entry - 5 is weakside and sets the baseline screen for 2 as the ball is brought upcourt, get right into flex.


- 4 flex downscreens for 5 (Bob Huggins - if 5 is a shooter; Jeff Bauer - 5 tight curls over the screen)
- 2 runs the baseline using screens from 5 and 3 (Argentina flex)
- 4 and 5 screen for 2, who can cut high using 4 or low using 5 (Barker triangle offence, Tubby Smith go move)
- 2 curls around 5, backscreens for 4, 5 crosses the lane (flex-rip, see Horns 1 rolling, also Argentina flex, Horns early 4 lob)
- 1 passes to 3, 2 backscreens for 1 (Hubie Brown).

Also see the 23 double quick-hitter. up

b) Flex fist

2 flex cuts using 5, 4 slides away, 5 ducks in then keeps going to pick and roll with 1.

Flex fist is an option out of Flex hold if 1 has no pass.

Option - if 1 passes to 3, 5 picks and rolls, see Flex specials (European play #7).

See Maryland flex (quick hitter).

- Maryland Up - 5 flex screens for 2 then ballscreens for 1
- continuous flex screens - 2 flex cuts then flex screens for 3 on a pass from 1 to 4, 5 moves out (see Maryland flex, no flex downscreens)
- 5 and 4 stagger screen for 2 (see Wing stagger above). up

9) High-post flash
a) Knicks handback

5 flashes to the high post, 1 follows his pass for a handback, or 5 can fake the handback, 1 goes through, and 5 drives the basket or passes to 3 and follows to pick and roll (shown).

Variation - 5 dribbles at 3 for a backdoor cut or handoff. up

10) Dribble entry

For other dribble-entry options, see cross-get above, and Tony Barone for flex action.

a) Rip

See Versoix fast break - Kickback.

1 dribble clears 3 who rip screens for 4 then pops, 4 basket cuts then posts or can ballscreen for 1, 5 comes high and would pick and roll on a pass to 3.

Variation - 5 stays low, 3 goes one-on-one from the top (Hubie Brown).

Hoop Tactics - Early Hawk Post - 3 would pass to 2 who looks to feed 5 posting up. up

b) Pitt

1 dribble clears 3, who uses a staggered baseline screen from 5 and 2, the ball is reversed if 1 has no play.

See Defence - Pitt off-ball screens.

Nets early offence - 4 ballscreens for 1 then pins down for 3, who can use the single or double screen.

Old Dominion X - 3 runs the baseline using 5, 2 and 4, then 5 turns and screens for 2.

Dave Arseneault (Grinnell) - 1 waves through 3, swinging through a shooter using a double or triple screen, opening up the side of the floor, letting the point guard penetrate. Any time the defence forces the point guard to the outer third of the court, it's an automatic ballscreen by the trailer.
Bob Hurley - Hold audible - put them in stacks, a shooter comes off a double screen, you can dribble at him and send him through.
Heath Millar - Reverse motion entry - 2 flarescreens for 4, 1 passes to 2 across the top, 3 runs the baseline using 5 and 4.

2 cross-screens for 5, 4 downscreens for 2.

- 4 comes back out to pick and roll on a pass to 2, 5 replaces
- 5 ballscreens for 3 if there is no shot or pass.

See Cross-get above, Fast Breaks - Raiders trailer, and Offence - Argentina motion specials (stagger pop).

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2007-22 Eric Johannsen