Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Using Screens

I used to be a HUGE proponent of screening in my motion game. I used to love the pass and screen away look, and probably pass and screened away to death - far too much! As I've learned the game the last few years, I have gotten farther and farther away from setting a lot of screens in the half court setting. 

Now don't get me wrong, I use screens to get my shooter open off some sets, and it's a good and valuable look. But within our motion offense, I would rather focus on things like drive and kick, pass and cut, back cuts, flash cuts, etc. Actions to try to get the ball into the paint and score around the rim. I think these actions push the tempo more and are easier for players to master quickly and get good at. 

One of my biggest problems with having players "read" screens in a motion offense is that most players really struggle with it. They usually resort to using a "straight cut" to the ball because they have ball fixation and don't really know what else to run. It's a hard thing to do, read a defender and decide which of the four possible cuts (straight, curl, back, and flair) to run. 

When I do get to screening within the layers of my motion (varsity level), I teach it with the players having only TWO cut options: the curl cut and the flair cut. The reads become simplified. If you get to the top of the screen and the defender is behind you (trailing) you run a curl cut. If you get to the top of the screen and the defender is sagging in the lane (cheating) you run a flair cut. The screener separates hard accordingly. 

I feel that if the players have two choices it's going to be easier to make a decisive decision and not hesitate. Also, I like the two cuts because it eliminates a straight cut which to me is not the best cut to run. The other two are more aggressive, especially with the screener facing up. 

Anyway, those are my thoughts on using "read" or "motion" screens in your base offense.  I think players benefit highly from learning the other actions first and then being able to perform them. They also benefit from having more limited options on their "read" screens. 

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