Saturday, October 11, 2014

Using a Horns Set Against the 1-3-1

A number of years ago when I was the head varsity coach at South Tama we played a lot of 1-3-1 zone. I felt a zone gave us the best chance to win and a 1-3-1 was a little different zone that most teams didn't prepare for.

The second time around in conference play we went up against Pella Christian and they HAD in fact prepared. They shredded our zone with a similar look. I was going over tape and it gave me the idea for this zone set series. I haven't run it in a game, yet, but I really believe it's a great way to beat a 1-3-1 zone.

Basic Alignment:
The set starts with horns. A point guard (1) two in the high post (4, 5), and two deep corners (2, 3). It doesn't take much to see how this distorts the zone and makes it tough to match up against.

Basic Action
This was the basic action they ran effectively against us. The point guard (1) dribbles a little bit one direction, pulling the top player. As he does the middle defender (X5) will likely slide to take away the high post. Once the dribbler reaches the lane line, he throws back to the opposite high post player.
 Once that pass is made it's on. The 4 attacks the rim and the other high post (5) dives. So you end up with either a layup on the drive, a pass to the cutting 5, or a wide open three in the corner. I still have nightmares watching those guys knock down three after three.

Sink Wings to Match Up - Adjustments
If they sink the wings and try to match up there are several things you can do. The first thing I would do is set an actually horns ball screen on the top of the zone. Bring the point guard (1) off the ball screen. The back side post (4) dives to the rim, trying to get in front of X1 (who is usually a smaller player) and post him up. The screening post (5) flashes backside elbow, we can throw back to him, he can drive the ball, and we've got some options there as well. 

Another simple option is to run a high low look. The baseline guy is usually smaller so you can throw the ball to your 4 man, have your 5 dive hard and seal the baseline, and look to dump it into the 5. You can then play from there. 

A final interesting option is to have the 1 dribble away from your best wing shooter on the floor. The backside high post (5) will down screen for the wing in the corner (2) who will cut up (and should be wide open). As this happens the ball side post sets a flat baseline screen for the 1 who goes baseline. The backside post (5) dives to the backside block after setting the down screen. Both screens should happen at about the same time. 

Deny the Opposite Elbow with The Middle Man Adjustment
One of the adjustments they make make is to leave their middle man (X5) in the middle to take away that pass. That obviously leaves the ball side high post open (5) so then we run the same basic action. What happens is we force the middle man (X5) to decide who he's going to cover.

Deny the Opposite Elbow with the Backside Wing Adjustment
If they cover it by bringing the back side wing, we throw the diagonal skip pass to the backside corner (2). If that pass is made the 2 attacks the zone. The ball side elbow (4) dives to the front of the rim. The backside corner spots up and you make a play. The 1 could also rotate over to the other lane line if you wanted to give you that pitch as well. And if the bottom of the zone (X1) is over far enough 2 can cut to the backside block for a pass in and a layup.

Deny Elbow and Skip Adjustment
If their backside wing (X2) manages to play it correctly to try and take away both the backside elbow and the skip, you can throw it to the ball side corner player (3). The action is exactly the same as the above counter. If he catches the ball he should drive it. The ball side elbow (5) cuts to the front of the rim. So you have the hammer pass to the opposite corner, the 45 degree to the backside elbow (4), the post at the front of the rim.

Hubie Brown Special
This is a special set you can run out of the look. It's one from one of the Hubie Brown videos. The 1 dribbles hard and makes the trap happen. As this happens the ball side corner cuts through, up the opposite lane line, and gets open.

We reverse the ball to the 2 filling up and he drives the ball. On the catch the high posts (4 and 5) dive to the rim.

If the ball side wing (X3) stops the drive it's an easy kick to the corner for a wide open three.
If the middle man (X5) stops the drive the ball side or back side wing should be wide open.

*One addition I might add is having the 1 cut to the open corner for a kick out 3. 

In Conclusion
Again, I've never run this live, but I do think it presents some interesting options. I'm hoping we can find a team on our schedule who runs 1-3-1 to give at least the basic look a whirl. I know as a coach who has played 1-3-1 this alignment would give us problems if we hadn't spent some time drilling it before hand - I know this from experience! Would love to hear feedback if anyone does try it!

Check out the Horns Variation that @halfcourthoops shot out on Twitter for a 2-3 Zone. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Simple Small Sided Games Build Up For Elementary Part I

Sunday nights in September and October are some of my favorites. Not because I get to cheer on the members of my fantasy football team (we are terrible), but because I get the privilege of working with our elementary players. Coach Klingsporn and I usually split them up with me taking the younger kids in grades 4-6. Holding true to my games based approach I've used a lot of games with them, with great success. Below is an example of a simple two game series that we did to work on dribbling.

1) Dribble Tag
  • Simple rules, everyone has a ball except for one player. He chases down another player and tags them. The player that is tagged drops is ball and is "it". The player who was "it" picks up the ball and is now a dribbler. 
  • What made it different was how we progressed in the game. 
  • Let them just play without talking about it for 3-4 minutes. Let them get a feel for the game. 
  • Then we stopped and I questioned them - "What makes it harder to get tagged?". The players decided that changing speed and direction (and hands) made it harder to get tagged. They also mentioned that you have to keep your head up to see who is "it". 
  • Modeled how to change speed and direction for the players - pushing off the correct foot, etc. 
  • Let them play for 5-6 minutes. Noticed lots of heads up, changing speeds and directions without having to be coached. 
  • Stopped and assessed as a group how we did. 

2) Rodeo
  • Rodeo is a simple game. Two players on D chase around and try to steal the ball or force a pick up on the dribbler. Play for 30 seconds and switch dribblers. 
  • Again, we let them play for 3-4 minutes to get a feel for the game. Had to coax some defenders to pick up the pace. 
  • After 3-4 minutes (everyone had 2 turns) we stopped and talked about how to be successful by asking them what they thought. 
  • They immediately recognized that they needed to change speed and direction again as well as playing with their head/eyes up. They also noted that breaking the trap by splitting it was only good in a vary rare situation. Lastly they said once you escaped the trap you had to sprint away, but not keep your back turned for long. Good stuff. 
  • I then demoed some stuff on breaking the trap, back dribble (see the defense), read what was most open, attack the outside, and go. 
  • Let them play again for 6-7 minutes (everyone went 3x). Saw a lot more of what we were working on, even when I wasn't coaching it. 

So there you go, simple but effective. In about 20 minutes everyone got in a ton of random practice ball handling. They had to change speeds and directions with the ball while keeping their heads up. They were genuinely enjoying themselves, and they were analyzing the game themselves. The most fun part about it for me was the questioning - seeing how much they really knew about the skill without having to be told. I also saw more transfer using questioning than if I would have flat out told them - I think there is something to making them think about it. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Notes from Spain and France U20

Image from
Spent the better part of last night and today watching the U20 game between Spain and France. I like watching teams whose rosters are not dominated by high level (NBA/Euroleague) pros. It's interesting to see what teams without that big time talent do because it relates better to the teams I coach at the high school level. There was TONS of great stuff, too much to put all of it on here unfortunately. If you get a chance, watch the game, the end is kind of epic. I did get a Spanish horns series, Spanish modified Iverson series, French set series for a good PG, a good BLOB series from France and Spain, and a few other odds and ends to share.

Spain Inbounds Set
I like BLOB sets that are out of different alignments. Everyone runs line, box, 4 up, flat, etc. This alignment is three across with the ball side block, middle rim, and a step off the rim as well as a player on the ball side elbow.

Set #1
The set starts as described above. The 4 is ball side block. The 3 is at the rim and the 1 is just outside the three. The 1 curls around the 3 and 4 to the corner. As this happens, the ball side elbow (5) screens the screener to the elbow for a shot or drive. If the one is wide open for a three you can throw it there too.
If there is no shot or drive, the inbounder (2) comes off a double screen set by the 4 and the 5. They get into the offense from there. If the shooter (2) isn't open, the second screener (5) pops up to the opposite elbow and gets the ball. 
On the pass to the 5 on the opposite elbow the shooter (2) back doors. They get into their offense from there. 
Here is a quick video. 


Set #2
In this set the middle player (3) simply starts coming out to the corner off a screen by the block player (4). The cutter (3) doubles back and gets a back screen to the rim.
Here is a quick video.


Set #3
This is a great read/counter to the first set if the defense cheats off the middle man to help on the player cutting to the corner. You can also use it if you have a size mismatch on any position. The 1 runs off the double to the corner. The inbounder (2) lobs it into the first screener (3) at the front of the rim for a shot.
Here is a quick video.

Set #4
This is a set that Spain ran for a corner 3 to end the 3rd quarter and take a 1 point lead. This time the middle man (3) comes off a screen by the elbow player (5). The outside on the backside (1) screens up for the screener (5) who cuts to the rim. The ball side block player (4) sets an in screen for the 1 who just set the back screen. The 1 gets the shot.

Here is a quick video.

France Set #1
This look caught my eye because it's a good set to get some initial action for a point guard. They also run some little on big back screens out of the set, which I like. They ran it as a secondary (hitting the trailer, and also out of a 1-4 high look.

Set #1
This set started as a secondary. The point guard hits the 4 on the slot and cuts to the block on the 4's side. The 4 passes to the ball side wing (3). The 4 then down screens the 1 who comes back off the screen, gets the pass, and immediately receives a ball screen from the 5 man. The 2 is spotted up in the corner that the drive is going to.
Here is a quick video.

Set #2
This set starts the same basic way, but out of a 1-4 high look. The 4 steps out and gets the ball and then passes to the wing (3). The 1 starts to make a cut again.

The 1 doesn't finish his cut this time, but instead turns and screens for the 5 at the back side elbow. The 5 cuts to the rim and the 4 on the ball side slot sets a screen the screener down screen for 1. The one comes off the screen, gets the ball, and immediately gets a ball screen from the 4 who set the down screen.
Here are two quick videos. 


Spain Modified Iverson Set
Spain did an interesting thing with the traditional Iverson set. The traditional set works with a 1-4 high. The wings interchange with one wing going over the top and one under the posts. You throw the ball to one of the two and have a set out of it. Instead of going traditional Iverson here, the Spanish team stacked their bigs to provide almost a double screen on the cut.

The set starts with the posts stacked in the middle of the free throw line. The wing they wanted to get the ball (2) always went over the top and the other (3) always under.

When they threw it to the 2 the bottom of the stack (5) came over and set a ball screen. They liked it going baseline the best.

But they would also set it going to the middle.

If the screen wasn't there, they liked throwing back to the 1.
 The 1 would then get a ball screen from the other post. If nothing was there it would be a dribble handoff to create action.

Here are a few short videos of the set.



Spain Horns Series 
Spain ran a interesting horns series in this game. They all started with a post/post cross screen, but gave some different looks for post up opportunities.

Set #1
The first set in the series starts with the 5 cross screening for the 4 who pops out and gets the ball. The point (1) cuts down and the ball side corner (3) cuts in. After setting the screen away the 5 turns and sets a screen for the opposite corner (2) cutting up.

 As the 2 cuts off the screen, the 1 and 3 set a double screen the screener back screen for 5 who cuts to the block and looks for the post up.
 Here are a few short video.


Set #2
The second set in the series starts the same way. But this time the 1 cuts all the way through and starts to head to the corner. The 5 sets a screen away for the back side corner (2) but sets it a little deeper than the first time. As the 2 comes off the screen the 4 with the ball dribbles at him.
 The 2 takes the handoff from the 4. As that happens the 3 at the block sets a back screen for 4 and we enter the ball that way.
 Here is a short video.

Set #3
The third and final set starts the exact same way. This time the point follows his pass and takes the handoff. The 4 cuts off a flair screen by the 5 and immediately goes to set a screen away for the backside corner (3).

The 5 steps out after setting the screen and gets the pass. The 4 finishes the screen away for the opposite corner who cuts up. The 5 reverses the ball to the corner coming off the screen (3) and then goes and screens away for the other corner players (2).

Here are a few short video.

France Set for a Slasher
Liked how France used this set to get their driver a look at the basket. I think you could put any position 1-5 in the 2 spot if you like them getting to the rack.

The set started in almost a box look. The point (1) came down on the laneline opposite the bigs. The 5 at the elbow down screens for the 4 on the block who cuts up and gets the ball. Right after setting the first screen for the 4, the 5 turns and sets a in screen for the wing (3) on the opposite block who cuts out and gets the ball.
Once the 3 gets the ball on the wing the 2 who has been on the opposite elbow steps out and screens the passer 4, right as he passes. The 5 then turns in and screens for the 2 cutting toward the corner. Pass the ball to the cutting 2 and let him go.  
Here is a short video clip. 


Spain Set for Two Shooters
Spain ran a solid set to get their shooter open. They ran it out of a transition, but it could have been in the half court as well.

Set starts in almost a box look with a wing on the ball side, post on the backside elbow, the 4 on the block, and the shooter on the backside block. The point dribbles off the wing who goes down and through a baseline screen set by the 4. The play starts to look like 2 is coming off a double from 3 and 5 but at the last second 3 takes off to the corner off a screen by 4 and the 2 comes off the 5's down screen.
Here is a short video clip. 


France High Box Inbounds 
France ran this BLOB sets several times and got some good looks.

In this series, the 2 and 3 were stacked mid lane and the 4 and 5 stacked ball side elbow. The 3 would down screen for the 2 who came off that screen and the double. If there wasn't a wide open shot, the 2 doubled back and with the 5 set a double screen for the 4 who popped out. The 1 then followed his pass and got a hand off.

When the 1 took the handoff he immediately got a ball screen from the 5. Right after the handoff, the 4 peels off and takes a back screen from 2 to the rim. 
Here is a short video.