By Jeff Haefner
I believe there are two things all basketball offenses should do, no matter what type of defense you face, or what your players’ strengths might be. And I think too many coaches get away from this…
First, I believe you should always try to get the ball inside against ALL types of zone and man defenses — even if you have NO players that can score in the post area.
Quite often I see coaches stop emphasizing inside touches when they face certain types of zones (like a 1-3-1 trap) or if they have players on the floor that are not good at scoring in the post.
I believe this is a mistake for a long list of reasons.
A good defense will try to take you out of your game and get you to do things that you don’t want to do. For example, a good 1-3-1 zone trap can fluster your team and take them out of their offensive flow. Many times these defenses will get your team to stop going inside and getting the ball near the basket.
The last thing you want is the defense to take control. YOU want to dictate the situation. And if you want to score lots of points, you need to get the ball as close to the basket as possible.
As a defensive minded coach, my philosophy is simple. I want to keep the ball as FAR FROM THE BASKET as possible. This includes stopping dribble penetration and getting the ball deep in the post. It doesn’t matter how the ball gets there. From a defensive perspective, I want the ball to always stay as far from the basket as possible.
I know that when the ball gets close to the basket, the odds of a made basket or a foul is much higher. I also know that when the ball goes inside, my defense breaks down and it’s more susceptible.
This is why I believe all offenses should try to get the ball inside, drill the concept, and emphasize it.
If you have small players that can’t score in the post, you should still try to get the ball near the basket and threaten the defense. You can get the ball close to the basket with dribble penetration, cuts, screens, or have your players post up. If the player is not good in the post area, they don’t have to score often (maybe never). They just need to be a threat and get the ball down there.
Then you can attack the defense from the inside out. Even against a zone defense you attack from inside out.
If your players are not good at taking care of the ball when it’s down low, then you need to practice it (whether the penetration comes from the dribble, cut, pass, or post up).
Once the ball is inside, all the defenders have to turn their head, adjust, and rotate. From there you can kick the ball out for an outside shot, reverse the ball, and just play basketball. By getting the ball inside you force the defense to rotate and move. This creates seams and opportunities for you.
If you just swing the ball and keep the ball outside all the time, you are an easier team to play against. Defensive rotations are easier and it’s easy to take things away from you.
Find ways to get the ball inside, practice those situations, and you’ll have better offense – whether you’re facing zone or man defense.
The second thing I think all offenses should do is reverse the ball. Again, this comes from me being a defensive minded coach.
The hardest things to guard are teams that are good at getting the ball inside and reversing the ball. It is very hard to guard a team that does that well. This makes my defense susceptible to openings, missed rotations, out of position help, and so on. I just don’t like it. I want to keep all teams from getting the ball inside and reversing it because I know how difficult that is to guard.
Does your team do a good job of reversing the ball in every game you play? Does your team do a good job of getting the ball inside in every game you play?
I personally think too many coaches make the mistake of conceding the post up and inside touches because they have small players that can’t score inside.
Let me know what your thoughts are.