Wide Open Spaces
This is an inbounds play against man-to-man defense that creates great shot opportunities and forces the defense to be concerned about the whole court. It is an overload play that leaves one half of the court free for an athletic and creative cutter to work his man to free up for a lay-in off the inbounds pass. It provides a good screen for a three-point shot. Because the defense is often confused about how to position themselves against this set, alert players will sometimes have easy opportunities to cut directly to the basket for lay-ins off of the inbounds pass.
- Whichever side the ball is on, three players line up shoulder to shoulder facing the hoop. The middle man should be a good long range shooter. Player 2 takes up a position way high on the offside. He should be an athletic player with speed and good cutting skills. The inbounder should focus on the three stacked players as if that's where he intends to throw the ball. Even a little bit of acting and exaggeration is surprisingly effective in the heat of the game.
- When the inbounder slaps the ball to start the play, Player 4 steps back and Players 3 and 5 close up, forming a screen. The inbounder should be looking right at that action. Meanwhile, Player 2 cuts hard toward the hoop and attempts to beat his man to get open for a pass and lay-in. Ideally, he will free up; and the inbounder, who has been selling the defense by looking at the three-point shooter, will deliver a pass as he comes clear for a lay-in. Note that Player 2 has a lot of room to make creative cuts and spin moves. Once the pass has been made, Player 3 heads out to the fast-break prevent area above the top of the key, and other players move to rebound in case Player 2 misses the lay-in. The key is not to move too early because you want to give Player 2 every opportunity and maximum space to beat his man.
- If the game situation is right, the inbounder can obviously hit Player 4 for the three-pointer. After the shot is on the way, Player 3 should move to the fast-break prevent position above the top of the key. Player 2, the off-side cutter, should be ready to rebound, as should Players 1 and 5.
- Defenses sometimes get very confused by this set and leave themselves open in surprising ways. For instance, sometimes Player 3 or 5 is left in a position to make a straight cut to the basket for a direct pass and lay-in. Note that Player 3 will always have deep responsibility unless he happens to be the player wide open for a straight cut to the hoop. In that case, Player 4 would inherit the deep responsibility.
- Another good variation is for the off-side cutter to free up around the free throw line, receive a pass, and then pass back to the inbounder or to Player 5 cutting to the hoop. Especially if you are running this play for the second or third time during the game, the defender is probably giving the cutter a big cushion to prevent lay-ins. Very often, the inbounder will be wide open on the return pass.
- Another twist is for the cutter to flare out to the right corner, receive the pass, and reverse the ball to Player 3 at the free throw line. Player 3 is in good position to dump down to Player 1 as he steps in bounds after inbounding the ball. Player 4 cuts low off of Player 5, and Player 5 steps to the mid-block area. Somewhere in all that action, there is an easy shot waiting for someone.
- The inbounder should sell the overload, keeping the off-side cutter in his peripheral vision only.
- The inbounder needs to be patient and wait for the cutter to lose his man.
- All players need to be alert to defensive lapses. If there is a direct cut to the basket, take it.
- Make sure that there is always a player occupying the fast-break prevent area.
Teaching Tips / Motivation:
- Make sure that the inbounder steps directly into the court before cutting to any other area.
- Tell players that this play provides more opportunities than most for alert players to get easy, unplanned lay-ins.
- Praise players for making good decisions.