Attacking the Front Court Double Teams

trapToday we’ll finish our three article series on ideas to help prepare our players for the various double team types and locations that they’ll possibly encounter over the course of the season. Thus far we’ve covered a number of double teams that are backcourt oriented. Today we’ll discuss some common frontcourt double teams and corresponding attack concepts.

1-3-1 HALF COURT: Again, there will be individual nuances from one 1-3-1 to another but they generally fall into one of two categories. The first we’ll designate:

OPPORTUNITY TRAP– Of the two styles we’ll discuss, this is the more popular of the two. (Think John Beilein’s Michigan 1-3-1). Just like the “opportunity” 2-2-1 press, this variation can slow the offensive team down or speed them up if a good trap opportunity presents itself. The defenders in this this style aren’t “flying around”, trying to create traps. The ideal (aside from a good trap) in this style is for your player to be staring at a 3 defender triangle formed by wing, point man post-if your man is on top or wing, baseline runner, post-if your man is in the corner.

To combat this approach (if you want to avoid the trap), it requires even more “cat and mouse” than your players used in the backcourt with change of pace, stationary and backward dribbles and “flipping” the court to the other side. Now your ballhandler has to also use pass fakes, ball fakes and even drive fakes to help distort the zone. If your player does get trapped, he has his “go to package” plus all of his teammates should be coming back to him to help with shortened passing lines-just like they would do on a teammate’s picked up dribble.

I would also offer a simple set solution against any type of “pressure” zone. Against these tactics, I believe it’s important to outnumber your opponent early to get the advantage at the outset of the possession. This is really a “high overload” concept-similar to a “side overload” concept that many coaches use against zones. So versus a 1-3-1, I would show a two guard set, (“2 HIGH”) consisting of two guards, a wing and two high post men- even with each lane line. This set goes high or low depending on how high or low the defense is. This set allows for the first pass to go directly into the guts of the defense to either post man, who squares and looks for the other post man cutting on a diagonal. The two actions of passing into the guts of the D and the diagonal cut from high to low by the other post compresses the defense and allows the 3 perimeter players to relocate to open spots. If the first pass is to the wing, the opposite post makes the diagonal cut and the two perimeter players relocate. Now your players are “playing basketball” working on spacing, ball movement, creating shots and shot selection. With this set and action, you’ve reduced the trap opportunities immensely and by getting the ball into the middle, you gained the edge or “hammer” in that possession. (If the defense shows a 2 man front, then you can run the same action out of a 1-4 set (1 HIGH”).

HARD TRAP: You can also see a 1-3-1 that doesn’t wait to trap and is only designed to speed you up. Obviously this defense’s risk is much higher. Every principle that we discussed in the previous section on the opportunity trap 1-3-1 is in effect but in a more accelerated pace. The 2 HIGH set is even more effective in this case.

1-3-1 QUARTER COURT: Some coaches will use either the opportunity trap or the hard trap 1-3-1 lower on the court. Team and player preparation in these cases is identical to our half court discussion with the exception of sets being lower.

2-3 ZONE: Some defenses will show a 2 front and on a call run at your point guard and double and have the forwards overplay your wings. On many of these half court doubles, you can create an immediate 4 on 3 by identifying the pending double and making a safe pass prior to the double. The 1 HIGH set also is problematic for this strategy. Sometimes, this zone will double the first pass with a guard and forward. In this instance, early identification and an interior pass or reversal pass will also create the desired 4 on 3.

ZONE-TRAP BASELINE INBOUNDS: Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse 2-3 zone gets a lot of mileage out of this maneuver. The key here is not to be caught unaware on any pass to the corner, including the first.

MAN-TRAP FIRST PASS: Teams will occasionally trap your first pass on a call. Quick identification and a quick pass will get a 4 on 3. It is dangerous to have your point guard go away or run a cut against this action. If this is the case, the player who is to replace the point guard’s floor position has to identify the situation and be there quickly.

MAN-TRAP LOW POST: Teams that double the post are generally coming from the back sending the other post’s defender. That other post has to “see” the double for his teammate and make a call. He should then flash to the middle. This is your best option. He can also buy time and space by dribbling away from the basket. A diagonal skip pass to a perimeter teammate is usually there the other post is covered on the flash.

All of these various traps might seem overwhelming to players but if they see that there are a few common denominators and they get to preview the circumstances and practice the situations, they will be less likely to panic in game situations and execute.

One comment

  1. I like to have a “2 guard front” (the point and the inbounder in a trailer) and reverse the ball before half court. I keep a high post (well above the 3 point line if the ball has not crossed half court and then keep the 15 foot spacing with the ball as it moves). If the ball is passed to the wing, the high rolls low and the opposite flashes into the lane., thereby always giving the person with the ball 3 looks (low, middle, opposite).

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