Paul Westhead | Basic Fastbreak System

To completely obliterate opponents and overrun them on offense, you can follow the Paul Westhead system, known as “The System” or “Basic Fastbreak System”. Few teams can do this effectively as it takes a coach with courage and belief, who can get his or her players to run other teams into the ground with great discipline.

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What is the Paul Westhead System and who is Paul Westhead?

Many know his unique, trademark style chillingly called “The System”. Such a notable moniker, which few basketball offenses could be labeled as, shows how remarkable is this fastbreak Paul Westhead system. Born February 21, 1939 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Paul Westhead has worked at all levels, starting in high school coaching. He’s a coach who has been in the NBA and coached Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers to Magic’s first professional championship.

After his first stint in the NBA, he went to Loyola Marymount University where his exciting, amazingly high scoring teams with Bo Kimble as the star are still talked about, today. He brought to life the LMU basketball program in the late 1980s with “The System”. Bo Kimble led the LMU attack which almost always resulted in scores well over 100 points per game. Kimble can be found today on the sidelines of a community college team, now teaching the fastbreak system he thrived in while playing under Westhead.

Paul Westhead used his system to shake up the LMU offense and dazzled the college basketball world at the time. The Paul Westhead system was able to attract big stars such as Kimble and focused on an up-tempo game on both offense and defense. On offense, he used athletic players who were probably in better condition than any other college basketball players in the country due to using “The System” day in and day out and thus running more in practice and games than any other team. Playing “The System” basketball required versatile players at every position. Westhead also did not have a deep bench so it meant that although they were fast breaking at every opportunity, and running a full court press at all times to result in many turnovers and easy baskets, if the opposing team got past that press then they would be relaxing into a typical half-court defense in order to not get too worn out throughout the 40 minutes.

How to be benefited by the Paul Westhead system…

Make no mistake, the Paul Westhead system ran other teams into the ground. If you have the right personnel, it may be wise to implement this whole scheme for your team. If you used it today and did it the same way, you would find opposing teams tiring at the end of games and you would be able to score a lot of easy points that way. All basketball plays in this offense require pushing the tempo at all times, which means you need not only a good point-guard but also a point-forward in the 4 position who can push the ball up the court, depending on the situation. Having effective new plays that get your team up the court can really help you, as a team. If you have big men who can run the floor with the ball in hand and also post up to play an inside-out half-court game for when the defense gets back in time, you will be able to use the Paul Westhead system, without a doubt.

Don’t you have versatile players? Here is what you can do…

Paul Westhead plays under his system at LMU did rely heavily on versatile players like Bo Kimble and Hank Gathers. If you do not have enough versatile players, it may not work as well for your team. Only you can make that decision as you research more on this ground-breaking system. You may find a similar basketball style, the Grinnel System, to suit your team better. It uses a similiar up-tempo philosophy with fast breaks on offense and high pressure on defense, even in the half-court, unlike the Paul Westhead system. The Grinnel system uses more substitutions and a deeper bench so that the team can play at a high tempo all the time. As it originated at a lower division of college basketball, it’s also more suited to less athletic and less versatile players, on the whole.

Whether or not you choose to use the Paul Westhead system, it’s something to take a look at, for sure. It revolutionized an entire basketball program and even if you didn’t run it all the time, some fresh Loyola basketball plays would liven up any playbook. While you may not find basketball coaching clinics using the exact system today, you could surely find some notes on old Paul Westhead clinics to help you delve into it, more. Some teams do run this today, so if you know as much as you can about the Paul Westhead system, you will be able to either use it for yourself or be able to defend against it, giving your team a competitive advantage, either way.

Here is a set of basketball plays he implements in Oregon University. I got this straight from Coach Westhead about his Fastbreak system that he ran with the Los Angeles Lakers, Loyala Maramount University, and now University of Oregon – Women. It can help you get a decent knowledge of the Paul Westhead system, on which we are going to add more posts in the future.

One Response to Paul Westhead | Basic Fastbreak System

  1. Watching George Mason play years ago when Paul W. was coach & fascinated by his ideas. Are there anything on ETube.
    or DVD.

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