by Tim Miser, Associate Head Coach Southwestern College
When you watch games at any level, you see the majority of offensive possessions start or end with guard penetration. Analytics have become a big part of the game and tell you that the most efficient ways to score are layups/dunks, free throws, and threes. How do we get layups, free throws, and threes? Distorting the defense with dribble penetration and causing the defense to rotate isn’t always enough. You must have great spacing. We all have heard that offense is predicated on spacing. If you have good spacing, this gives you an advantage on the offensive end. This begs the question, how do we perfect spacing on dribble penetration?
We have a few different things we like to do based on where the ball is driven.
Our 5 man must do what we call “T-Up” which means he just goes right to the front of the rim, we must have someone fill opposite corner, which we call the hammer, and we must have someone filling behind the driver.
The 5 man T-Up opens up space to throw the pass to the hammer, gives great offensive rebounding real estate, gives the driver a good angle for a dump off, and collapses defense from the top.
The fill behind guy is very important. He must rotate behind the driver as much as needed so the driver always has an outlet. This outlet allows the driver to have full confidence to be aggressive, knowing he will always have an outlet. You would be surprised just how often this man gets a shot. As soon as your defender looks at the ball, that is when you move or relocate.
The man filling the opposite corner on the baseline drive allows for easiest outlet pass and gives good spacing for extra passes.
So, what does the other man do? His job is to “be a good basketball player”. This means he must space away from the player filling the hammer about 12-15 feet and find an open spot where the driver can see him. If ball is kicked to the hammer, this player must be ready for the extra pass. If the drive must throw it back to the player filling behind, then he must sprint to space where he can receive an extra pass.
On a middle drive, we have our 5 man get his backside to the baseline, hands ready to catch a pass, and heels on the baseline about 6-8 feet from the basket. We call this the dunker’s spot. If their defender helps up they have good angle for drop down pass for layup or dunk.
We have a man fill the opposite corner again (the hammer).
We have a man fill to the opposite wing (about 12-15 feet away from the corner).
This allows for good spacing, easy kicks, and easy extra passes on defensive rotations.
Our last man, who started on the same side as the man who drives, is the fill behind guy. His job is to get to a spot behind the driver, so the driver knows he has an outlet man.
LANE LINE DRIVES
Any drives that come from the top and go right down the lane line we call lane line drives. In these instances, our 5 man gets opposite ball into the aforementioned dunkers spot. This is hard to do with how quickly someone drives, so we are okay with getting underneath the basket and “hiding” to get a layup when their defender helps up. If the lane line drive gets all the way to the baseline, we would treat it like a baseline drive and the 5 man would then T-Up.
We flatten to the corner on the same side as the drive. Most defenses are told not to help off ball side corner, so this gives room for the drive. If they do help, we believe it is the easiest pass to make for an open corner 3.
We, once again, have a fill behind guy. His job is to get behind the driver.
The other man we tell him, he has to be a good basketball player. If the lane line drive gets cut off early we would fill to the opposite wing (must make sure he is at least 12-15 feet away from fill behind guy). If the lane line drive gets all the way to the baseline, we treat it like a baseline drive and would fill the opposite corner (hammer).
We have had great success with this spacing on dribble penetration. Since we started emphasizing and drilling these spacing concepts, we have been top 25 in the nation total scoring offense, field goal percentage and total 3-point field goals, each of the last three seasons. Of course, it helps to have high IQ players, great shooters, and guards that can get by people, but we believe that drilling our spacing along with jump stops, has helped us become a much more efficient offensive team. We have shot more and more threes and got much more quality looks.