Bob Knight Offensive Strategy (or Drill) to Get Open Shots for Your Scorer

Here is an idea from Bob Knight on how to get your best scorer an open look. And it did receive some criticism which we'll get to after explaining the offensive tactic.

Here's the tactic: You simply have your scorer set three screens in a row. After that, the player looks for a score.

If you think about it, that makes a lot of sense.

You might score before your scorer even sets multiple screens!

The defense has to pick their poison. Does the defender guarding the screener help on the screen or stay close to the scorer?

If the defender does not help, this is going to make it very difficult for their teammate who is the defender being screened. And it's going to make it a lot easier for the offensive player receiving the screen.

If the screened defender isn't receiving help, it forces them to cheat on the screen. They might have to cheat over the top, under, or towards one side of the screen. And the cutter can easily create a ton of separation by just going the opposite way. This can be done via flare, curl cut, or backdoor cut.

If the screened defender plays honest, the cutter gets a split second advantage they normally wouldn't have. The offensive player can simply execute a straight cut off the screen. So now the screened defender has to run into the screen or go around the screen.

If the defender guarding the screener does help, now your scorer has a much better chance to get an open look!

That's because the defender moves away from the screener (scorer) and gives them more space. And the screener (scorer) can cut to an open area to maximize distance.

You can also have another player screen the original screener (scorer) again. Screening the screener is a very difficult action to defend.

Also, if you have the scorer set multiple screens in a row, it might lull the defender to sleep. Then the defender won't be as quick to react when the scorer looks to attack.

By exercising patience, you also increase your chances of breaking down the defense!

In order to get three screens set, you are going to have to move the ball across the court multiple times. This puts a lot more pressure on the defense and increases the chance of a defensive breakdown and scoring opportunity.

Criticism in response to this offensive strategy...

When we originally posted this on social media, we had a rebuttal to this conversation which led to a good discussion. It also helped with clarifying a few things and further expanding on how to implement this strategy.

Imagine that! A productive discussion on social media. :)

Here is the comment.

That philosophy and "5 touches" before a shot worked in the 70-80s. If you are outmanned, yes. But if you are more athletic vs the competition, get up and down the court instead of allowing inferior teams to stay close. Take your open shots when they come especially with 3s. Game has changed today.

And after some discussion, they also added...

My point was the slow down style keeps most games close and if you have the players let the talent take over. Not a fan of having a certain amount of passes as a rule before taking a good look or attacking.

First off, I agree that there are situations in which you don't want to slow down the game and let less talented teams compete with you.

And to clarify, I don't think this is a strategy you use throughout the whole game. You might use it when you've had an offensive drought or you want to get a particular player an open look. You might use it once or twice every game or you might only use it a few times a season.

Also, in these situations, you can tell your players to take a lay up at any time.

And depending on your situation, you can tell your players to take a shot when it's a good shot for them and they're wide open. Of course, the shot clock might slightly change your approach too.

Either way, this tactic is certainly a great tool for practice! This helps develop patience, passing, and shot selection.

In regards to getting up and down and pushing the pace versus working the ball around on offense...

Why can't you do both?

Dan Miles of Oregon Tech who won over 1,000 games at the college level did. He'd push the pace and look for a good shot early in the shot clock. If the defense recovered, they would swing the ball side to side a few times, then look to attack.

And Coach Miles' teams were some of the highest scoring teams for decades while also averaging some of the lowest turnover rates. It was quite remarkable actually.

What do you think? Is this a useful tool for special situations in games? Can it help your offense by using it during practice?

Offense Solutions and Resources

Don Kelbick's Motion Offense Videos

23 Basketball Team Offense Drills - Improve Spacing, Cutting, Screening and Ball Movement

20 Basketball Fast Break & Transition Drills - Full Court Drills

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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Pat Tarrant says:
7/2/2019 at 11:22:48 AM

When you are getting up and down the court against a weaker team and scoring easily, this will not be a necessary strategy, but in a dogfight, where your best player is having a difficult time getting free, this is a very good strategy. I've coached basketball at the high school and college level for 40 years, and always want to push the ball on offense, but we have to get back to sound principles when you play a team that isn't giving you anything. This has nothing to do with what era your playing in. Timeless principle, "If you're having trouble getting open, set a screen." Steph Curry's screen setting makes him more difficult to guard.

  1 reply  

KJ Ball says:
7/5/2019 at 5:32:48 PM

Pat I agree %100. This has nothing to do with era. If you haven’t noticed Curry’s screen setting as a way to get open looks you aren’t paying much attention. If you have superior talent then much in the way of strategy isn’t needed. Good, solid idea to get good looks.


Rick Gerlach says:
7/1/2019 at 5:40:23 PM

I agree it depends on the situation of the game, but the one thing I do not like, more so can't stand.... Is the coaches philosophy of push it up the court one pass shoot the ball. To me that is lazy coaching because there's really not much you need to do as a coach. I know coaches out there where they have the talent or not they pushed the ball up the court one pass launch a 3. They're doing this with kids at 5th grade level and younger that don't even have the strength to reach the Basket from three and you see these kids at older ages with these horrible shooting touches that looks like they're just launching the ball up there they still have two hands on the ball with that Earth rotation. Plain and simple it is lazy coaching. You can still be aggressive and play half-court offense.


Marquin Keith says:
7/1/2019 at 4:54:10 PM

I think pushing the ball is intelligent basketball, but slowing it up is just as smart. If you don't push you miss easy points, especially if a team is trying to press but you don't allow them to consistently get into it. Slowing it down is a great strategy also if you don't have the quickest post players but they are crafty. It's really about knowing your players.


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