A very common instruction given by coaches to players is, “If there is pressure one way, then look the other.” Too many times players try to ‘force’ a play and therefore lead to errors or turnovers. Recognising pressure applied by the defence and having solutions becomes very important in an era when players have great athletic ability, quickness and determination to take away the favoured play of the offence.
In photograph 1 the defender on 1 overplays in an effort to deny a pass from 2. The technique used by 1 to establish a position to receive a pass from 1, or to punish the defender by making a ‘back-door cut’ is extremely important. 1 should be facing the basket with his left arm extended and without fouling hold off his defender with the right forearm. Be sure not to push off with the right forearm as referees will be inclined to call the foul.
An accurate pass by 2 should reach its target even though the 1’s defender applies pressure. It should require a significant overplay by 1’s defender before the pass may be denied. In this case the defender will be vulnerable to a back-door cut and easy lay-up opportunity.1 should make a short drop step with his right foot, backing away from the pressure defence and then run a hard backdoor cut to the basket. It has been a long standing “golden rule” of ours that a player must never ever fake a backdoor cut. There is nothing so demoralising to see a pass thrown out of bounds when a cutter leads out again after faking the cut. We have found it extremely difficult for defenders to prevent a backdoor cut if they have tried to pressure the feeder.
If the defence on 1 did not allow the backdoor pass 2 immediately looks to 3, who then makes a normal third option cut. It is unusual for 3 to get open for a pass from 2 on a cut but he should be prepared. 2 then looks to 4, who should have remained close to the sideline. 3 drives hard off the post with the intention of driving all the way for a shot close to the basket, but it is common for the defensive player on 4 to help in the driving lane. In this case 2 gives a hand-off pass to 4 2 continues his cut and follows 3 around a screen set by 1 4 drives off screen set by 5after which 5 rolls to the basket and all the normal options as for a first option follow.
It is important to recognise how the defenders try to over play and then select the correct option to beat them. If 3 did not give a handoff to 4 and kept driving to the basket but was unable to get a shot 4 should cut off the screen set by 5 all the way through the keyway and turn out around the screens set by 3 and 1. 2 may be able to make a lob pass or bounce pass to 4 cutting through the lane but more often will pass back out to 5 who would then take a short dribble to the middle of the free throw lane for a jump shot or pass to 3 who stepped off a screen set by 1. 3 may have a shot but also looks to feed 2 who cuts off screen set by one for similar options as in a regular first option.
The same options will be available if, when 2 starts his drive off the post screen , 4 decides to run a backdoor cut for a possible pass from 3. If the pass is not made to 4, 3 continues his drive for a shot or pass back to 5.
Of all of the many options included in our shuffle offence the reverse and the variations require the most skill and judgement. I have been reluctant to include reverses in the offensive structure of our very young teams until they develop the fundamental skills required to execute the elements successfully. The offence can break down quickly and players become confused if they are not well drilled. However the various options can provide excellent rewards when executed well against pressure defences.