Friday, March 16, 2012

Falling Back in Love With the 4 Out

I've always been a motion guy and I doubt that will ever change for me. But over the years my preference of motion has evolved. Started with the three out, went to the four out and a few years ago I went to the 5 out. This year I had a couple true big players on our JV who were a little bit lost in the 5 out. So instead of trying to put the square peg into the round hole, I switched back to a 4 out. Funny this is I now LOVE the four out all over again.

I went to the five out because I liked the idea of the area under the rim being open for cutting and driving. But funny thing is I found that the spacing is actually BETTER in the four out. We got much better offensive looks in the four out than I've ever had coaching a 5 out offense. I am loving the post player for inside touches, screening, etc. Below are some of the things we did and worked for us in the 4-out. None of these are earth shattering, and most apply to most motion offenses, but it's my hope that there is something in here that you can use. I know these things have made a difference for us and made this my best year of teaching the offense.

1. Put the Post on the Backside but Use Him
This is nothing new as Vance Walberg has been doing it in his DDM for years. But in our motion, having the post on the backside made it so much more open for guards to cut to the rim as well as post. It obviously gave us more driving room as well. The post was allowed to flash to the ball, but had a 3 second rule (count to three and get out). He could also seal on the backside when we swung the ball. The other thing he could do was flash to the high post. Putting him there got us a ton of good looks- the guard would pass and cut, he could dribble hand off, perimeters could back cut, post could kick and cut/post, and our post could go 1 on 1 from the high post. Along with that, the post could screen on the backside and then flash to the ball which got us some easy points. One of our posts routinely scored 10-20 points a game in this situation and we were still able to have him not clogging up the lane.

2. Emphasize Movement - Ball and Players
This is a no duh type statement, but as I sit and watch Cincy and Texas it's apparent that not all players know how to move. Some things that we taught that helped were backcutting when not open, flashing to the ball from the backside, and backside screening. Have to be careful with the flashing though as you end up with a clogged lane sometimes. Players don't want to stand, but also they don't know what to do when they are standing so you need to teach them how to move. Also it's important to move the ball quickly. We had a guard who had to keep being taken out because he would hold the ball. Moving the ball helps to move people. When we passed the ball you had to cut or screen - replacing was not an option in our offense. Players need to understand that the more the ball and the players move, the more the defense hugs. Once the defense starts to hug passing, cutting, and driving lanes become wide open.

3. Emphasize Paint Touches
When we won, we got the ball into the paint regularly. There are three ways to get the ball into the paint - post ups (posts and perimeter players), drives, and cuts. If you can have the ball inside often it's going to open up your shooters for threes. We talked often about how many paint touches we got. I think you have to get paint touches on at least 80% of your possessions to be successful unless you have great shooters.

4. Teach Backside Action
Teaching backside action has to do with movement as mentioned above. If you've got guys standing on the backside, they need to know that they can still move. I teach to either down screen (guard screen wing) or flair screen (wing screen guard). You can get really technical with it, but it makes for some good movement. Also, having your backside players move starts to pull the defenders out a little bit.

5. Teach the Offense With Small Sided Games
One thing I did really well this year was teach the offense with small sided games. For instance, we want to work on moving, we would play 3 on 3 cut to score. Players play 3 on 3 and have to score off of a cut - can be of a screen, basket cut, back cut, etc. Playing 2 on 2 or 3 on 3 really does a nice job of emphasizing what you want because players are touching the ball more and concentrating on it. It also is great because it develops the SKILL not the drill. When they get on the floor they are used to having to move no matter where they are or what they are doing on the floor. This likely made the biggest difference for us.

6. Teach pass and cut, drive and kick, and screening options.
So many coaches teach how to pass and cut as well as screen, but I think you also MUST teach your players what to do when the ball is driven. On the drive at least one other player should be moving and everyone should be relocating. I teach that the player being driven at makes a decision - backcut or shape cut behind the drive. The player being driven at needs to read his defender. If his defender comes up to help the player being driven at cuts to the rim. If the defender drops off to help (and you can still see his eyes) the player being dribbled at needs to shape up behind the drive. The post can stay on the backside block, pop to the elbow, or come to the front of the rim. The backside player stays in the backside corner for the shot or crashes in if not a shooter.
7. Teach Patience
Players have to know that they are not going to score on the first pass, or the second pass. But if we can work the ball we will be more efficient. Our scoring this year was actually better when we had longer possessions. We would score in the 60s, 70s, and even a few in the 80s when we were patient. When we rushed it we were in the 40s and 50s. As we learned that we didn't have to score quickly to score a lot we started to really get patient. It's a hard thing to teach but once they understand it's fun.

8. Teach Hook and Look vs. Zone
This was something we added this year, stealing it from the Read and React Offense. We ran the same offense man and zone with the hook and look instead of cutting. When we did it right, we would kill zone teams because we would get the ball inside. Our post would run short corner to short corner and would crash when the ball was passed to the hooking player. Dirt simple but made a huge difference.

9. No Ball Screens
Some coaches will disagree with me, but we were a much better offensive team when we took out the ball screens early on. The reason for me is that ball screens usually have 2 players moving and three standing. It's not good basketball. We would ball screen on a call (fist) but wouldn't let them ball screen. Players ball screen when they don't know what to do and it almost always results in players standing around.

10. Teach Concepts and the Motion Becomes Interchangeable
Even though we taught the four out motion, our guys were able to take the concepts and apply them to 5 out and 3 out on the fly. I don't know how it happened, but our guys were able to do it this year and it was great. I think that teaching concepts and using small sided games helped. One game we had our two bigs in, and was going to have one play outside. But they asked why not just go with two posts so we tried it. The posts were flashing, screening, etc. In another game they started running 5 out because we didn't have a post in the game. Again I don't take ANY credit for it, but trying to figure out how we did it - and I think teaching concepts not spots is a big reason.

11. Teach in Layers
This is probably the most important point on motion offense. We started with passing and cutting. We didn't teach anything else until they got it down. Once they did we started to teach our dribble drive rules, once they understood those we moved on from there. If we moved on and the previous layer started to go bad we would go back to it. But I think teaching it in this way is very effective. Also teach the complexity in each layer as the year goes on. If you add complex things as the year goes on it makes the offense really dangerous. For instance we worked on pass to the high post and cut early in the year. Then we added the dribble handoff as we got farther along in the year.

12. Eliminate the Straight Cut
At the high school level it seems like every player straight cuts off of the screen. Unless you are a dead eye shooter what's the point? Something that we did effectively was run the curl cut only. The cutter can high curl (elbow area) or low (rim) and the screener flashes opposite. If I were to have these guys another year I would teach the flair screen layer as well. But I think the flair and curl cuts are the two cuts that high school players should learn to run. Both of these cuts give you a hard to guard options.

Well there you go, hopefully something in there helps you out.


Jason O'Connell said...

This is definitely one of my favorite offenses...good thoughts!

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