Paul Westhead's Loyola Maramount Fast Break and Transition Offense System

The "Loyola Marymount" break was developed by Paul Westhead. Coach Westhead developed a reputation as a free thinker throughout his coaching career. While at LaSalle College in the 70s and 80s, his "0" defense gained widespread notoriety when it was learned that the defense was named because one defender was asked to play no (zero) defense. All he was expected to do was anticipate a steal or a shot and take off down the floor to the offensive end and look for the ball.

In the early 80s, he moved to Loyola Marymount University, where he developed a transition offense system that led to his teams being the highest scoring team in NCAA history.

As I mentioned before, it's not the pattern that makes the play, it is the philosophy. Coach Westhead's philosophy was that he wanted to get a shot up in less than 7 seconds. He tried to create such a frenetic pace, that the other team would just give up. Often they did, out of utter exhaustion.

I am not going to recommend to you that you adapt a similar philosophy. But, to enact that philosophy, Coach Westhead developed a break where its beauty was its simplicity. It featured numbered lanes and specific early cuts to follow ball reversal. By the time the ball was reversed, it had to be up at the basket. It is that simplicity that allows it to fit in with the half court offenses in this transition offense system.

The LMU break, like the Carolina Break, is a numbered break.

2 runs to the right corner.

3 runs to the left corner.

5 runs to the right block.

4 trails and goes to the left elbow.

1 advances the ball on the dribble as quickly as he can and tests the drive to the middle.

The first option all players have when they receive a pass is to shoot.

1 can headman the ball to either 2, 3, or 4.

The player's first option is to shoot.

If the ball is headmanned to the corner and he does not take a shot, he can look in to 5 in the low post or to 4 as the trailer.

If the pass goes to 4, it has changed sides of the court. Anytime the ball changes sides, the 5 man cuts block to block.

1 fills the wing.

4 looks to pass into 5 as he cuts.

4 can swing the ball to 3.

5 cuts block to block.

If 3 does not shoot, he looks into 5 on the block.

Related Pages & Helpful Resources

Fast Break Basketball Offense - Carolina Secondary Break
Fast Break Basketball Offense - Phoenix Suns
Competitive One on One Fast Break Drills - 1v1 Attack
5 on 3 + 2 - Fast Break Drills

Want to learn how to build your fast break and transition offense step by step?

Don Kelbick's Transition Offense and the Four-Second Fast Break
This DVD shows you how to build your fast break and transition offense step-by-step, so you can easily teach it during practice. It will also show you how to seamlessly transition into your half court offense to keep the defense scrambling. As every great defensive coach will tell you, they play their best defense when they have their 5 players back. This DVD will show you how to take advantage of the defense when they're not set and currently in transition. It also includes many fast break and transition drills that build mentality, aggressiveness, decision-making, and basketball skills. This DVD is 110 minutes long and neatly organized ... (more info)

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


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Kim Bright says:
10/12/2018 at 1:25:50 PM

I like the Carolina break but what are you thoughts on the guards getting to the block and in front of the ball instead of the 5. In H.S. girls basketball the 5 isn’t the one always in front of the ball. Thank you for your feedback.


Chris indelicato says:
11/14/2017 at 8:16:39 PM

How does a pass get from 2 in the right corner to 4 at the left elbow? That pass gets stolen every time!

  1 reply  

Coach Lewis says:
2/9/2018 at 2:04:01 PM

2 does not hit 4 at the left elbow, she hits the 4 as she dives to the strong side block. If the 4 is fronted and 3's defender is low, the 2 may be able to skip it hard to the 5 at the top of key or lane line extended at the three point line (assuming 5's defender is playing back side help on the fronted 4). On that pass, 4 as an easy flash in the paint since her defender is sealed. It's a tough pass for girls to make (especially JV), but guys can get it there quick enough to get through.


Ken Sartini says:
6/10/2014 at 4:39:16 PM

Dave -

10 out of 13?? 77%? I don't think any pro can give you those numbers on a regular basis.


Dave says:
6/10/2014 at 3:14:25 PM

Good Stuff, as long as your players can make the shot they are taking at least 10 out of 13 times. The players need to chart there shooting during practice all over the court, to see where they can make shot's and where they can't make the shot. They should have to make 10 out of 13 at any given spot on the floor at practice, to be able to shot that same shot in a game.


Coach Mike says:
2/15/2014 at 10:23:49 AM

Coach H if you bring your 5 to the top of the key first it will eliminate the zone press and the half court trap.


Coach H says:
1/4/2014 at 6:59:00 AM

Love the Westhead system; however, I have found two defenses that have caused it trouble:

1- A zone press

2- A halfcourt trap (ex: 2-2-1)

Any ideas to counter these?


Coach O says:
6/13/2013 at 12:06:18 PM

We break a lot but the key I have found is that if you use a PG run break you will miss a lot of opportunities because unless the PG is in the perfect outlet position on the rebound it takes a second or two for him to get to that position get the pass and head up the court and you lose valuable time that gives the other team time to get back on defense. We have the rebounder outlet to whoever is on the wing and with essentially 4 guards they are all capable of handling the ball. Whichever player(s) are up top leak out on the rebound rather than on the outlet (they don't quite cherrypick and have to stay home until we secure the rebound) and the outlet receiver tosses the ball up the wing or cross court and we either get the finish on that pass or one pass later. We haven't perfected it but still manage to get a lot of points this way even against teams that are faster than us.


Ken Sartini says:
6/13/2013 at 8:10:57 AM

Most coaches don't want to pass the ball to their centers running the floor..... not all are like this but they are afraid that they don't have very good handles.

Let them get to the block and get them the ball there .... or im my mind, at least from the free throw line in. JMO


Gerard Fusaro says:
6/13/2013 at 7:16:10 AM

My son is the fastest guy in AAU. He is a center and the rule is never pass to a center if he doesnt get the rebound.
He will in the block long before the other players and ready for a pass or a shot


Gerard Fusaro says:
6/13/2013 at 7:15:42 AM

My son is the fastest guy in AAU. He is a center and the rule is never pass to a center if he doesnt get the rebound.
He will in the block long before the other players and ready for a pass or a shot

  1 reply  

JJ Guidry says:
6/27/2016 at 9:01:35 AM

The key to Coach Westhead's fast break is the post never cuts to the block until the 2 catches. It's not hard to defend a post on the block. However, it is extremely difficult to defend a post cutting to the block in transition. We have utilized this fast break for more than a decade and it's extremely effective.


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