The guiding philosophy of our offense is:
Develop Players. Give them Space. Play with Pace. Seamlessly Flow.
The better our players, the better our offense. The better our offense, the better our players. Player development connects w/ offense. Many times these items are seen as separate. When we are working on our offense, we are also developing our players skills. Just as when we are emphasizing a particular skill, we are working on and ultimately enhancing our offense.
All coaches want skilled players. We strive to develop versatile, offensive-minded players who thrive in the chaos of a game. Versatile means that we have players on the floor, regardless of size, who have the ability to shoot, pass, handle, finish, pivot, accelerate & decelerate. Offensive-minded means they have the confidence to attack space when it’s presented and ultimately make the “right play” given the interactions and decisions present on the floor. Lastly, to thrive in the chaos of a game, skills cannot be viewed and evaluated solely from an isolated perspective. They must be evaluated, and ultimately developed in conjunction with the decisions that occur within a game. Technique is important to a degree, but it is often over-valued & over-coached. Adaptability, vision, and feel are more important. Here are some clips that illustrate versatile, offensive-minded players using skills in the chaos of the game:
We are constantly fighting for our spacing- it’s a crucial ingredient to any offense. We call our base offense and spacing template Space & Attack. It’s predominately a 5-out system (but can be adapted to be a 4-out as well) where initial action can vary from team to team. We generally start with ball movement and cutting to introduce the offense. There is a huge emphasis on players being higher and wider with their positioning. Penetration reaction is something we frequently work on within conceptual shooting drills- players must understand how to maintain the integrity of our spacing when a teammate penetrates. When initial spacing along w/ gap recognition is established and understood, we will also begin to utilize backside pins and incorporate post cuts to give ourselves other options to create small advantages within our Space & Attack. Additionally, and once again connecting back to player development, spacing isn’t just player positioning on the floor, it’s also predicated on player “gravity”. Having multiple shooters on the floor that the defense must stay connected to opens up more space to attack.
Playing with pace doesn’t mean that we rush up and down the floor without any sense of valuing a possession. Pace is sprinting to our spacing when we secure possession and probing for an early advantage before the defense gets set. This can be off of a made or missed shot by our opponent. On a rebound, we give freedom and want the player who rebounded the ball to initiate our early offense. If we aren’t able to get an early advantage via transition, we move the ball and our players w/ pace. Playing with pace certainly involves our ability to attack early in a possession, but it also involves the energy of the ball and the intention of our players cuts as a possession extends longer.
Flow ties together our offense. On a made or missed shot by an opponent, we race to space to probe for an early advantage. If we aren’t able to create an advantage early in the possession, we are organized w/ our spacing to seamlessly flow into offense. We do not need to reset our spacing or call a set each time down the floor- we have the ability to flow and play without interruption. Whether it be a pass & cut, drag screen, post-up, snap, or center action- the action connects w/ our spacing. The goal is to constantly be on the attack. If an action creates an advantage, we use or transfer the advantage until we create a high-value shot. When an action doesn’t create an advantage, we re-space and move right into our next action without lag or delay.
Our base offense establishes our spacing template and gives us a foundation to work off of. The quick actions we install connect to that spacing template (flow). Every team takes on a slightly different identity based on the players that make up a roster. For example, some teams may use post cuts and rely more heavily on post entries as opposed to gap creating cuts for dribble penetration. It may fit a team to automatically flow into a drag screen if no transition advantage was available early. Each game, depending on an opponent, could also call for different wrinkles and actions as well. Maybe an opponent is poor in handling off-ball screens and that game requires flowing into action w/ an off-ball screen. This is where coaching and adaptability is required. There were games when we needed to use quick actions with screening more and then other games teams couldn’t keep us in front so we could simply use cuts to open up gaps to create our advantages. Regardless, the goal of any action is to create an advantage that leads to a high value shot. Below is a PDF file that shows quick actions we use that directly connect w/ our spacing when we arrive in the half-court.
Part 2 will feature our approach on how we teach and implement the offense. Thanks for reading!