Man offense to isolate your two best players From Bill Hor, boys varsity coach, Friendship Central School, New York

Coaches are usually only blessed with having one or two real impact players on the team in any given season. This is especially true for coaches at smaller schools.

In light of this situation, a coach needs to have an offensive set that gives these impact players the opportunities to receive the ball in good locations on the floor.

Most teams in our league play man-to-man defense, so the following offense is shown against a man-to-man. At times however we have successfully used this offense against a 2-1-2 zone.

This offensive set is based off three fundamental principles.

  1. Impact players must handle the ball at least 60 percent of the time in the half-court set.
  2. The non-impact players need to have movement that gives them easier shots.
  3. The impact players need to spend at least 60 percent of the time on the same side in the set.

The offense can be run to either side of the floor and is ideal to run out of your primary fast break.


DIAGRAM 1: Man offense (A). The offense begins from a 1-3-1 set. For purposes of this article, 2 and 4 are designated as the “impact” players. 1 passes to 2. After making the pass, 1 cuts off 4, breaks toward the basket, and comes back to the top cutting off staggered screens set by 5 and 3. At this moment, 2 is isolated and can slash to the basket. 4 breaks to set an on-the-ball screen with 2. 2 and 4 run a pick-and-roll game. As he or she rolls, 4 posts up on the ball-side low post.


DIAGRAM 2: Man offense (B). 3 cuts off a pair of baseline screens set by 5 and 4 and breaks to the ball-side corner. 4 then cuts across the lane and sets a screen for 5, who uses the screen and rolls to the ball side. 2 passes to 3 in the ball-side baseline corner.


DIAGRAM 3: Man offense (C). As 3 has the ball in the corner, 2 sets a screen for 1 on top. 1 uses the screen and breaks to the ball side. 2 breaks down and sets a screen for 4, who rolls to the elbow. After setting the screen, 2 fades to the weak-side wing.

Notice that your impact players (2 and 4) are now isolated to a side. For this offense to be successful, you need to be patient and work both sides of the floor (especially against good defensive teams). But even with a shot clock, you’ll usually find a good look at the basket if the offense is run correctly.


DIAGRAM 4: Special entry. When a good defense is making your players work for a shot, you may have to go to a quick ball reversal to 1 coming off the initial double-screen set by 5 and 3.

1 has the ball on the top of the key, while 2 and 4 set double-staggered screens for 3 coming to the ball. 3 swings around the 5 and cuts out to the wing. 2 fades to the wing and you’re right back into the initial set.

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