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 Initiating the Opportunity against basketball man-to-man pressure defense

The first step is to get the ball inbounded. Five seconds is a long time and you should never panic. Smile at your opponent and let them know this is his mistake and your opportunity. If your teammate guard is not open and neither forward has moved to centerfield for the long pass, turn to the referee and call a timeout.

Keep in mind that on this throw-in you can move right or left along the end line. You are not limited to a single spot. The referee doesn't hand you the ball and designate a spot. You simply take it out of the basket after an opponent scores and move to any spot you choose.

Initiating the opportunity offense against pressure defenses Diagram 41There is another tactic you can use if your five seconds seem in jeopardy. You bounce the ball once as a signal for your teammate to jump out of bounds. Here, you can pass to him and cut inbounds yourself for a return pass (see diagram 41). This particular technique should be used sparingly; however, it has value because it shocks the opposition somewhat. For example, you could use it in one of the first occasions when pressure is applied in a game and then only once, or twice more during the course of a game.

The in-bounder has two possibilities. He can pass to his teammate guard or to one of the forwards at centerfield. The forwards should always look back as they take their positions down court. Should the guards get in trouble with the inbounds, the forwards cut back to receive a pass. If the guards do get in trouble, both forwards stay out of the way.

Initiating the opportunity offense against pressure defenses Diagram 42The breaking receiver should use quick starts, stops, change of pace, and change of direction in order to get open. Always keep in mind  that one good fake is better the fifty sorry ones. When you stand in one spot and simply dance around, you are not faking. Make a good hard move that consists of a head and shoulders fake left, a quick starting break three steps to your right, and a change of direction break to the left of about five steps, which should allow you to receive the ball (see diagram 42).

The guards should not always take the ball out on the same side of the floor. Always keep changing the angle so that the pressuring defense can anticipate.

Another good fake makes use of the change of pace. Start to the left, stop momentarily, but keep going left. Make all moves hard and realistic. They must not look like a fake. A good fake must be so real that even the faker doesn't know whether he will stop and come back on a change of direction or stop and go, using a change of pace. This is called reading the defense. In other words you react to what the defender gives.

Initiating the opportunity offense against pressure defenses Diagram 43After the inbounds, the passer makes the fast cut in front of the receiver and breaks as if he is going all the way down court. After he gets twenty or thirty feet past the receiver, he checks if the ball handler is in any danger. If the ball handler is in danger he buttonhooks back sharply, putting himself in a good receiving position so the defender pressing the passer cannot deflect the pass (see diagram 43). It is important not to hook back in direct line with the player pressing the passer. You might be open but the passer may have trouble passing you the ball.

Initiating the opportunity offense against pressure defenses Diagram 44Actually, you could use this tactic and advance the ball without ever putting the ball on the floor; or you could dribble the entire distance. You could take advantage of the fact that one side of the court is cleared and moving in that direction with a low, well protected dribble. A high dribbler is usually the one that gets into trouble.

When the dribbler starts to the wide side of the floor, the defender may see that it is difficult to pressure him into a halt when he has the entire floor to dribble in. He may overplay the dribble, forcing the dribbler to a halt, or change of direction. If the dribbler is forced to halt, he should immediately hit the hook back forward before his defender has a chance of tying him up (see diagram 44).

Initiating the opportunity offense against pressure defenses Diagram 45The dribbler may use a change of direction instead of stopping and passing. If he does, the hook back forward must clear out to the other side of the floor and hook back on that side (see diagram 45). Every time the dribbler changes sides of the floor, the hook back forward also changes side of the court.

 

 

 

Initiating the opportunity offense against pressure defenses Diagram 46When the guards get into obvious difficulty after exhausting their bag of tricks, either or both forwards may break back to receive a pass (see diagram 46). The forward will then drive on in a penetrating move or pass back to one of the guards who can then get the ball into play. The forward, receiving the ball, should use good judgment in choosing to drive or pass back to a guard.

 

 

Initiating the opportunity offense against pressure defenses Diagram 47This might be a good time for the guard to cut through to a forward position and let the forward put the ball into play. The forward can usually see very quickly if he has the advantage of a mismatch. Often you will have a small forward who handles the ball well. When he is guarded by a large but slower opponent, he should use this advantage by helping bring the ball down the floor most of the time (see diagram 47).

 

Initiating the opportunity offense against pressure defenses Diagram 48Once the guards penetrate as far as mid-court, another tactic that works well is a feed into the pivot. The forwards should break wide, opening up the middle as the pass is made (see diagram 48). This tactic should be used frequently, even though the guards are not in trouble, but receiving some pressure.

 

 

 

Initiating the opportunity offense against pressure defenses Diagram 49If the pass is made to the pivot, the opposite guard goes through for the subsequent Opportunity continuity. The post player may hit him with a delayed pass under the basket after he clears through, or the pivot player may score himself. Should the pivot player not be able to hit the guard under the basket, or take a shot himself, he should pass off to the forward on the overloaded side of the court (see diagram 49).

Sometimes, after moving the ball into their normal offensive positions and start to make a pass to initiate the offense, they find no open receivers. The forwards and post have executed their maneuvers, yet the defense has the upper hand, using overplaying tactics. The guards have two possibilities. They may pass directly into the high post and let the opposite guard cut through as previously described, or fake a pass to a forward signaling him to cut backdoor and cross underneath.

 

Initiating the opportunity offense against pressure defenses Diagram 50The forward being overplayed on the ball side of the floor should take his defender high, nearly to the sideline. He should change direction quickly and looking for the ball as he breaks (see diagram 50).

 

 

 

 

 

 

If he doesn't get the ball he cuts on under and across the free throw lane. Here, he receives a screen from the other forward as he breaks to the forward spot on the opposite side of the floor. As illustrated in diagram 51, the guard passes to his teammate guard who relays the ball to the forward who started the play from the opposite side of the floor.

 

 

 

 

Please note that on the guard to guard pass we are already moving into our Opportunity offense. Once in the initial positions, any pass starts the offense, The guard passing to his teammate cuts through, leaving an excellent opportunity to pass into the high post. Since there is pressure on the forwards, a sagging defender will not be in the way, and since there is overplay, the defensive guard will probably be trying to prevent the guard to forward pass. It is most important that you master this movement (see diagram 52).

 

 

 

If the pass is made into the middle #3 will hold up on the same side of the floor where he initially set up. This gives the post player a clear side of the court. Player #3 never breaks across until the ball is delivered to #4; therefore, he has nothing to do when the ball goes into the high post player (see diagram 53).

You can expect more pressure in years to come, both man-to-man, zone, and combinations thereof. With this in mind, I feel you must work against pressure every day. Learn to turn them to your team's advantage.

 

 
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