Written by Scott Bauman

Coaches love offense. Something about a quick-hitter executing to perfection in a crucial situation of a game. Or the following possession countering by taking advantage of an overzealous defender trying to cheat the same play.

If social media does anything, it exposes our guiltiest of pleasures as coaches regarding X’s & O’s. And with so many playbooks made available online or quick-hitters captured on Twitter, how do we choose which ones fit our program?

Culture-to-Court Offense

Culture-to-Court is taking the core values identified within our program to the concepts embedded on the basketball court. The idea is to have transparency sewed into our culture from our style of play, thus creating synergy between what we preach to how we practice. This all comes off very idealistic, but if our identity is linked with our concepts schematically then we can better reinforce our culture.

Our core values:

  1. Be Dependable
  2. Be Respectful
  3. Be Persistent
  4. Always Together

In a perfect game, our offense would demonstrate being in the right spots at the right time looking to make the right plays via unselfishness and an attacking style of play. Keep in mind this isn’t always the result. It is our intention. It is an active attempt at our brand of basketball.

How do we look to build this style of play?

It starts with our breaks. If we could execute and live in our primary and secondary (early offense) breaks with efficiency for an entire game, then I would be satisfied. My guess for that to happen:

  • We are getting stops to take advantage of transition defenses.
  • We are sprinting the floor to get ahead of the defense.
  • Advancing the ball prior to halfcourt frequently.
  • Playing downhill with an intent to score or read the right scoring opportunity.

It starts with the breaks, then flows into the half-court where we look to implement concepts of creating space, encouraging attack mode, and playing unselfishly. Our half-court style of play is still a work in progress every year.

Our Language & Stats-to-Track

Terminology is key to create uniformity between concept and expectations. A couple terms that we use often in our program are “Fly it up” and “One-More.” We have a drill working on transition scoring – Dayton Shooting – that implies Dayton Fly… you get it. Fly it up is our understanding of looking to advance the ball ahead in transition. Once on a halfcourt, we are looking to score, but cognizant of the possible need to make one more pass.

Our program is minimal from an analytical perspective. Games do not include box scores and I do not attempt to have our JV players track statistics for us. The staff on the bench tracks four stats:

  • Paint touches (Plus/Minus & Conversion)
  • Turnovers – I will get back and personally track assists from the film
  • The other two are defensive, which is a topic for the previous week – 50/50 (2nd Chances & Loose Balls) and Kills (Number of times we have 3 stops in a row)

Statistics don’t have to be comlex to get your point across. Our “4-Factors” are only to be used to reinforce our concepts on offense and defense. From an offensive angle, paint touches hopefully illustrate to our guys how often and how well we are attacking the defense, and vice-versa. Subsequently, we can correlate one-more scoring opportunities by how many paint touches we are getting and the amount of 3-point field goal attempts we are taking and/or making. Turnovers are an easy indicator of decision-making. There can be a grey area within this conversation if we are making aggressive dead-ball turnovers versus silly mistakes leading to easy transition buckets for the opponent.

Drills & More Drills
Evolution of Offensive Philosophy

The number one objective for our offense is to play to our strengths and by brand; we identify personnel and attempt to prepare them with the best scoring position possible through sets, motion, and spacing by design. Deciding the action to install is where hindsight can rear its ugly head. Here are two observations over my time:

Continuity of System

My philosophy has evolved over time taking preference for system over sets. Have a base offense that is largely static in structure. Could be out of your breaks, might be on the halfcourt. What is foundational within your offensive system creates transparency and continuity. Hopefully, consistency is developed to mitigate retention issues and reduce the learning curve for players in your program by empowering those with experience to teach. I think the best offensive systems induce generative learning progressively building on that foundation from year-to-year. At this point – and this is the aforementioned work in progress – I have come to appreciate Villanova’s simplicity in open motion, connectivity in Princeton if/then concepts, sprinkled with Euro/Gonzaga ball-screen continuity, and every coach’s idealistic form of pace in the breaks.

Ingenuity Over Inventiveness

Offense doesn’t have to be innovative to be successful. This is not to be misunderstood with doing the same year in and year out, but not trying to create something out of nothing for the sake of complexity or originality. The aforementioned guilty pleasure with alluring sets can also be problematic for coaches. Particularly at the high school level, teaching in sets can disrupt development – being very one-dimensional in learning. Ingenuity over inventiveness is my take on doing what’s best with what you have within the program.

Offensive Trends Starting to Emerge

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