The Iowa Press Break is a very simple press break I picked this up from a very smart man that I once had the privilege of coaching under. The reason I would use the Iowa Press Break as your press break over another is because of how simple yet effective it is and how it can work against any kind of zone press. It’s something that doesn’t take hours and hours to put in, while at the same time gives you everything you want in a press break. When the ball is on a side the guard with the ball has all 4 of the options you should have in a press break. He has a player to pass to up the sideline, in the middle (where you want the ball), a reversal option and someone going deep diagonal.
The whole idea of the Iowa Press Break is that when one of the guards on the side has the ball, the opposite post flashes to the middle and the guard on the opposite side goes deep. You reverse the ball working it up the floor looking to hit that post when he flashes to the middle. Once the post flashing to the middle catches the ball, it’s all over, all he has to do is turn and pass it to the guard streaking long and we’ve broken the press (hopefully)!
This offense can also be used in the half court against zone traps. I don’t show it in the diagrams, but it is the same basic concept, I am sure you can figure it out! The offense starts in a 1-2-2 look with the posts on the blocks. When the ball is thrown to the wing, the backside post cuts up to the elbow and the backside wing cuts to the block. This is GREAT against the 1-3-1 trap because the backside block will be open if the defense locks onto the post flashing high. If you are confused with how this works, shoot me an e-mail and I will help!
This is great against a trapping press because you have spread the floor in such a way that they can not cover everyone. Many times, the guard cutting deep is going to be wide open and can be hit with a pass if the passer gets it off before the trap. At the very least against a trap the reversal pass will be open. If it is not open, you know that you have someone open who can gash the opponent.
As with anything else, this is not the end all be all of press breaks. This is what I personally find useful and is something that I use. Maybe something you have is better and if you do that is great! The only downfall I find to this pressbreak is that we don’t have a guard cutting through the middle of the press. But I find the movement from the other players suffices for this. Many times, the player that is open is the post that is now on the ball side returning to his position up the sideline. The defender lets him go to block out the middle from the post that is now flashing there and the post returning to his ball side spot is open.
The following will be a quick rundown of the press break in more detail. Please refer to the diagrams as well. It really isn’t anything that complicated or mind blowing. I am going to refer to the diagrams in the order that they appear.
You can enter the ball anyway you want. What I show here is my line entry. The posts flash up and then dive deep, they stop at about the half court line. They are trying to clear the area so that the guards can cut in and receive the inbounds pass. If the defenders stay with the guards, hit the posts (if they can dribble) as they are going deep. If the defense is playing a zone, it’s just like football, you are trying to get the ball to the post while he is between the areas of the zone as he heads to half court. When the ball is entered to the wing, it should be immediately returned to the inbounder as he steps inbounds. Now, if you find the defense denying that pass, have the opposite side post immediately flash to the middle. If they don’t deny that pass back, get it there and quickly get it reversed. If they do, your player should be looking to someone else for a pass because someone has to be open.
Once the ball is on a side, if nothing is open off the post flash and sprint deep, the ball should be reversed. As the action takes place for the first pass however, the player at the point should have taken 1-3 steps up, depending on what the defense allows. Consequently, the guard coming back off the deep flash should not come all the way back, but should come back slightly ahead of the point guard. The reason for this is that even if they defense the cutters perfectly, you are still moving up the floor and will get across in the ten second time limit. The posts (though not shown on this poor artists rendition J), should back up a little bit to maintain the spacing against the press. Don’t let them stay at the half court line and pack things in, that makes it too easy for the defense.
When the ball is reversed, the post now on the back side flashes to the middle and looks for the ball. The guard now on the back side goes deep. The post now on the ball side is looking for a pass up the side line and the point is taking 1-3 steps up. The process should continue until the ball is over half court, we can get a pass to the flashing post, up the sideline or deep.
Middle Flasher Entry
When the ball is entered to the post flashing middle, the press should essentially be broken. All the post player has to do is turn, look diagonal, and hit the guard who was streaking up the back side. If he isn’t open, the rest of the players should be filling lanes to the basket and he should find someone. If your flashing post is a player that can put it on the floor (maybe a perimeter player in a 4 out offense), he has the green light to turn and go as well if they are dropping off to take away cutters. As with any press break, you want to attack and try to score. We want to beat the press for an easy shot so that they stop pressing us. As the catch is made the other post on the sideline should make a b-line for the rim as should the streaking guard. What we are hoping for, best case scenario, is for the guard to get the ball and both posts to streak making it a 3 on 1 or 3 on 2 break where we can score. The passes off the middle flasher entry should be bam, bam, and go. We want to attack!
It is not shown in the diagrams, but the sideline entry is basically the same principles as the middle flasher entry. We want to get the ball up the floor and go. If the player who caught the ball on the sideline can dribble, we encourage him to do so. Either way, we want the other post who was flashing middle to make a b-line for the rim as with the guard who was flying deep. If the player that catches the ball on the sideline is a poor dribbler, we want him to wait and hit one of the two guards trailing the play to give the ball to then attack.