January 27, 2011 • Basketball

Basketball: Tom Crean’s full-court play

Coaches, especially young ones, often don’t spend enough time game planning for specific situations. You need to be ready for anything when you are on the basketball court, which is an important lesson I learned from studying the likes of Morgan Wooten and Dean Smith, both of whom are in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

No matter what team you’re playing, you have the potential to be down late in the game. Don’t be so overconfident that you haven’t planned for this scenario. If you are down eight to 10 points with two minutes left in the game, ask yourself three questions:

  • Do you have your catch-up game ready to use?
  • Do you know your team’s best ball handlers, passers and foul shooters?
  • Do you have a strategy for everything?

When you’re prepared, you’re confident, which translates to your team being confident, even if you are down late in a contest. Being prepared also means having plays in place for specific situations, such as the one below, which is good to use if you are down two or three points with just a second or two on the clock.

‘Home run’ full-court play

“Home run” is a great play to run when you need a 3-pointer and only have a second or two to go the length of the floor.

Tom CreanDIAGRAM 1: The play begins with 4 being your best baseball passer. 4’s job is to make sure the baseline is clear and to keep the defender who is on the ball as far off the baseline as possible.

4 needs to ask the referee to have the defender give space, which also buys time for the players to get set on the other end. This play is designed for 2 to get the shot but makes it appear to the defense that 3 is going to be the first option.



Tom Crean2

DIAGRAM 2: Players 2, 1 and 5 all screen for 3. Be sure that 2, 1 and 5 have a bit of space between them to keep the defenders close; otherwise, the defenders simply play the outside.

With the defenders close, 2, 1 and 5 step into their screens toward 3. This closes the gaps and doesn’t allow any defenders to shoot the gap and go for a steal. 3 comes off the triple screen and clears to the ball-side 3-point area.



Tom Crean3DIAGRAM 3: As soon as 3 comes off 1’s screen, 1 screens for 2. 2 cuts underneath the screen and pops out to the weak-side, 3-point area where he or she should be wide open.

After setting the screen, 1 steps high to the top of the key with hands held high. 4 has the option to pass to any of the three players now outside the 3-point line (players 3, 1 and 2), but 2 is the main option.




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