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The North Carolina Motion Offense

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While it might not be the first, Dean Smith's motion offense, which he ran so effectively for years at North Carolina, is considered the Cadillac of motion offenses. Coach Smith more accurately describes it as a "passing game". It is a free form offense with no pre-determined cuts, no set pattern. Players read the defense and react to what they are given.

The passing game can be run out of any set but eventually works into a 1-3-1 set, preferably with a point guard, 2 shooters and 2 post players. The perimeter players have to be skilled ball handlers, the post players must be good screeners and be able to pass from the high post and score from the low post.

The offense is executed by a set of rules that allows players to make their own decision.

Spacing Rules
  • Players should maintain 15' spacing
Perimeter Rules
  • After passing, the passer can:
    • Screen away
    • Basket cut
    • Replace himself
  • Don't stand for more than 2 seconds
  • If overplayed, go back door
Dribble Rules
  • Dribble is used to:
    • Improve a passing angle
    • Go to the basket
    • Escape trouble
Post Rules
  • The lane is reserved for post players
  • Try to maintain high/low spacing
  • Post players can:
    • Screen for perimeter players
    • Screen for one another
Ball Rules
  • Ball should be reversed as often as possible
  • Every 3rd pass should go to a post
  • Post looks low and then opposite
The trigger for the passing game is usually what is now known as the "North Carolina Break". The passing game is designed to fit in at the end of the break and is used as their transition offense. The break already contains spacing, high and low posts and ball reversals. The positioning and spacing on the break allows for a seamless transition from the primary break to the secondary break and finally into the passing game.

The North Carolina Passing Game has made point guard a celebrity position, beginning with Larry Brown moving on to Phil Ford, John Kuester, Jeff Lebo, Buzz Peterson, etc. It is not a coincidence that these former North Carolina point guards are all considered outstanding coaches.

Related Articles & Products

How To Develop a High-Scoring Motion Offense - Instructional Guide To Building Your Motion Offense.

Motion Offenses, Drills, & Tips


Leave your comments, suggestions, and questions below...



Comments

Most Likes First   Oldest First   Newest First

jermain carter says:
1/29/2010 at 2:27:56 AM

i am coaching





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Keith Hines says:
6/1/2010 at 4:45:42 PM

Is there any more info on the North Carolina motion offense?

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David says:
11/29/2010 at 10:53:31 AM

You state that after passing the passer can "replace himself". What does that mean?

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Joe Haefner says:
12/2/2010 at 10:15:34 AM

David, I believe that means to cut and replace the spot the player originally cut from.

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Ed B says:
1/4/2011 at 9:49:05 PM

I am teaching this offense to a good Middle School team. We have good 3 point shooters. How best to integrate that? Down picks and sliding along perimeter come to mind. Spot up as well. But I am having trouble seeing anything predictable on shaking players loose at the players' sweet spots.

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Ed B says:
1/4/2011 at 9:49:48 PM

I am teaching this offense to a good Middle School team. We have good 3 point shooters. How best to integrate that? Down picks and sliding along perimeter come to mind. Spot up as well. But I am having trouble seeing anything predictable on shaking players loose at the players' sweet spots.

Like
   

Anesha says:
7/27/2011 at 3:59:31 PM

this play iz a good play it helkped us win

Like
   

tim says:
10/14/2012 at 7:09:59 PM

The lane is reserved for post players?....after the guard passes and basket cuts? screening away is becoming a total waste of movement. The guards, by basket cutting, offer excellent opportunities to score off the brush screen or shaping up and receiving the pass. I believe the Read and React offers all the basketball needed to score and win.

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Brian Sass says:
10/16/2014 at 7:43:33 PM

Completely disagree. If the away screens waste movement, then they aren't being taught right.

I'm familiar more with Roy Williams North Carolina motion which runs out if a 3-2 set.

Back screens are always set for the player who just passed the ball. Their defender is easiest to find. Down screens are set on the side opposite the ball. So on a pass from wing to point, you get a back screen for the passer, and a down screen where the ball just came from.

I have no problem with Read and React offense or advocates. But I've seen numerous offenses work. I've seen numerous offenses NOT work (including the Read and React).

The key to successful offense is TEACHING. I suffered my own failures trying to run offenses I didn't fully comprehend how to teach.

I was fortunate to hit on an offense that was simple, effective, and easy to teach. I can't imagine running anything else. What made it effective for me wasnt the X's snd O's, the alignment, the movement, or what it's called. It was my ability to teach it improved with experience.

Take what you know. Have them learn what you are able to teach. If your philosophy matches your talent, if your adaptable, and if you are a good teacher of the game, ANY offense can be successful.

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Ken Sartini says:
10/17/2014 at 9:56:46 AM

I agree Brian, its all about HOW YOU teach the game. There are a lot of good offenses out there... but you have to teach something that you REALLY know.... that way, the longer you teach it, the better you will get at it..... you will be able to tweak it to fit your new players.

Something very simple here, IF they don't understannd what you are teaching they will have slow feet because they will be thinking all the time. JMO

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