Adopting the ‘Winner Package’ By Michael Murphy, contributing writer

Teach your team these game-winning strategies in time for next season

Football coaches often have different packages for different game situations. Some common packages are the two-minute drill, the goal-line package, the red-zone package and the nickel defense. With our program, we have adopted this package concept and implemented what we call our Winner Package.

The Winner Package consists of game-winning plays from various spots on the floor. For example, we have a sideline out-of-bounds play, a baseline out-of-bounds play and a full court out-of-bounds play. Additionally, we have more than one baseline and sidelines out-of-bounds plays depending on the time and score. Needing a 3-pointer to tie the game or having just four seconds left on the clock are a couple of scenarios that dictate which Winner Package play we will try to execute.

The most important characteristic of our Winner Package is that we only run these plays when a game-winning situation presents itself. We would never run these plays early on in the game or in the middle of the second half. Scouting the opponent’s tendencies has become such an integral part of coaching and game preparation, we hope to be able to disguise these plays and keep the defense off balance by giving them a completely different look than what they have prepared for.

Now that the concept of the Winner Package has been explained, here are some of our favorite game-winning plays.

‘Rollback’ sideline out-of-bounds

Rollback is a box set play that gives our team the option for a layup or perimeter jump shot. It takes four seconds to execute this play at game speed.

DIAGRAM 1: 3 inbounds the ball. The point guard (1) sets up on the weak-side block. The team’s best shooter (2) sets up in front of the inbounder. The team’s best screener (5) partners up with the best shooter, and the most mobile post player (4) starts out on the strong-side block.

1 sprints off of 4’s screen along the baseline all the way out beyond the 3-point line. After setting the screen, 4 rolls back to the ball and catches the inbound pass right at the 3-point line.


DIAGRAM 2: As soon as 4 catches the ball, 1 immediately cuts backdoor looking for a layup only if they’re overplayed. Most defenders quickly glance at the ball when it’s passed, therefore, if the timing is right, the player may catch the defender napping and get an easy backdoor layup.

The second option on Rollback is the flare screen or skip pass for a perimeter jump shot. 5 observes the action in front of him or her, and once they realize the layup option is not open, they set a flare screen for 2.


DIAGRAM 3: 4 pivots and makes a skip pass to 2, who can either shoot a 3-pointer or a 2-pointer, depending on the needs of the team at that time.

Rollback is best used against a man-to-man defense, but this play should get your team a clean jump shot against various zone defenses if a proper screen is set.


‘Box Counter’ baseline out-of-bounds

This is a play that I borrowed from University of Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self. Box Counter is a box set play that works against a man-to-man or zone defense. The play is designed to free up your best shooter for a perimeter attempt. Unfortunately, it takes a little time to develop. To execute it properly, you need a minimum of six seconds on the game or shot clock.

DIAGRAM 4: 1 inbounds the ball. 5 and 4 line up on the ball-side block and elbow respectively. The best shooter (2) starts out on the weak-side block. 3 begins on the weak-side elbow. 3 cuts off of 4’s screen and receives the inbound pass from 1.


DIAGRAM 5: After inbounding the ball, 1 makes a zipper cut right up the lane line using a screen from 5 and 4. 1 receives the ball at the lane-line extended above the 3-point line.


DIAGRAM 6: After passing the ball to 1, 3 makes an “Iverson” cut to the weak side of the floor, coming off 4’s screen.

The Iverson cut is named after former Philadelphia 76er Allen Iverson, who made this offensive action famous during his time in the NBA. 1 dribbles the ball semi-aggressively to the same side of the floor as 3. This action is designed to make the defense believe that the play is being run for 3.


DIAGRAM 7: Once 3 cuts to the other side of the floor, 2 begins to cut to what is now the weak side of the floor. Once 2 starts his or her cut, the ball handler reverses their dribble and begins taking one or two dribbles, or however many are necessary to have the proper passing angle.

2 runs through both 4 and 5 using an elevator screen. The screeners must be careful so they are not calling for a moving screen, resulting in an offensive foul. This type of action must be practiced on a regular basis.

The beauty of Box Counter is that it can also be run as a sideline out-of-bounds play. 3 would inbound the ball, 1 makes a zipper cut to receive the inbound pass and then 3 makes the Iverson cut. The team’s best shooter runs through the elevator screen as 1 reverses the dribble.


‘Home Run’ full-court play

Home Run is a full-court play that can be used in a variety of situations depending on your specific needs at that time. Your team can get a quality 3-point shot in about three seconds. Or you can get a drive to the rim or a 2-point perimeter shot in four or five seconds.

The one drawback to this play is that it works best if the defense guards the man throwing the inbound pass. The play can still be successful if they don’t guard the inbounder, but you have a numbers advantage if the defense decides to guard the inbounder guaranteeing you a good look at the basket for a game-winning shot.

DIAGRAM 8: 1 inbounds the ball with 4 setting up in the middle of the lane. Your best shooters (2 and 3) should start on the other side of half court, near the sideline. 5 can lineup in the opposite lane area, near the free throw line. 4 sets a screen on the defender guarding the inbound player. This is 1’s key to run the baseline, remaining out of bounds.


DIAGRAM 9: After setting the screen, 4 steps out of bounds and 1 makes a pass to 4. The screen on the ball and the pass out of bounds generally catches the defense off guard. This split second of indecisiveness gives you the advantage that you need at this critical juncture of the game. If you do run this play, it may be helpful to warn the referee’s as to what your intentions are.

The clock should not begin on this first pass because the ball has not yet been inbounded. Unfortunately, in the past, we had scorekeepers start the clock too early, forcing us to inbound the ball and ruin the surprise of the play. Politely ask the referees to make sure the table knows that they should not start the clock until the referee gives them the signal. After 1 passes the ball to 4, 1 sprints on an angle to the top of the key.


Diagrams 10 (left) and 11 (right)

DIAGRAMS 10-11: 4 lofts the ball over the defender if there is one present, and 1 catches the ball in stride with a full head of steam and an open court ahead. The time and score situation dictates your next course of action.

Does 1 drive the ball into the paint, forcing the defense to help and possibly dropping the ball off to 5 for a layup? Do they penetrate and pitch out for a 17-foot jump shot to either 2 or 3 if the defense collapses and prevents them from getting into the lane area? Does 5 set a flare screen for the best shooter, freeing them up for a 3-point shot if your team is down by three points? All of these are viable options with this give-and-go play if the defense guards the ball out of bounds, the play is executed and the clock begins at the correct time.

Hopefully, you never find yourself in a position where you are losing the game and there are only a few seconds left on the clock. However, if you do find your team in this situation, try one of these Winner Package plays.


Michael Murphy is co-founder of the Revolution Basketball training academy and a member of the Winning Hoops editorial advisory board. He can be found on Twitter at @hoopsmurphy.





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