Post Entries off Ball Screens by Robb Schultz
I’m not a big believer in post-up, back to the basket, basketball. It is what I grew up watching and it was the focus of every team. The game though has changed and evolved. The three-point line, speed, athleticism, and at the basket physicality has changed the way the game is played. We don’t run much post isolation or teach a tool belt full of back to the basket moves. We do, however, play a post player and look to get post touches. We treat post entries like dribble penetration and it gives our offense another opportunity to score at the basket and collapse the defense for inside/outside three-point shots and close-out opportunities. One way we like to create efficient post touches is off ball screen rolls.
I love the ball screen. I think it is an immediate opportunity to create an offensive advantage. I like that it forces the defense to make decisions and most teams, especially at the level I coach, are predictable in how they will defend the ball screen. In many of our ball screen actions, we like to roll or loop the post player setting the screen and have a throwback option. Regardless of the defense against the screen, the screener will most likely have the inside track to dominant post position to score off of the throwback.
“Power” is one of our ball screen sets we like to use if we have two post players in the game. It is a typical Horns set that provides a good ball screen throwback opportunity. The point guard uses either post screen or the preferred post screen as both the 4 and 5 rise from the elbow to just outside the three-point line to set ball screens. The post that sets the screen will loop roll to the weak side block as the weak side wing will corner lift. We like to lob this pass to our roller if x3 fails to tag the roll. If x3 does tag the roller then we like to skip across to 3 on the weak side. The skip pass presents a great opportunity for 5 to get dominant post position, as x5 has to play on the high side of 5 regardless of ball screen coverage. 5 must locate and seal x5 on the skip pass and 3 should look immediately to post on the catch.
From our dribble-drive motion offense, we like to create advantages through point and wing ball screens. The point ball screen actions are very similar to “Power” as we typically run high ball screens into a weak side block roll and corner lift. Wing ball screen actions are a little different in the fact we must cut the point to the strong side corner for the corner lift and the potential throwback action all occurs on the strong side. We have three different post entries, we ball screen the wing with a throwback option. We can “quick” (point to wing pass entry) to the wing and run a loop cut to the strong side corner and bring the 5 ball screen (“fist”). We can “quick” to the wing and cut to the weak side and bring a “double” (5 then 4 dual ball screen). The third method we use is to “rocket” (point to wing DHO) into “fist”.
All three post entries give us a good throwback post-up option. The only ball screen coverages that may take away the throwback post option is drop coverage and/or switching. Even then the 5 defender must stay on the top side in drop coverage and switching likely will create a mismatch and post isolation opportunity. We do not force the throwback from the quick hitters as our primary objective is to get our ball handlers downhill to make plays, but we practice the throwback and emphasize the opportunities in games depending on ball screen coverage and who tags the roller. If the roller gets tagged by the throwback defender then we like to throwback. Many times the throwback defender doesn’t close out hard and we get uncontested three-point shots instead of post entries. Sometimes the throwback defender closes out too hard and we dribble drive to create another advantage.
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Using ball screens and throwbacks are simply another method to create post-up opportunities in the scheme of an open offense. We like it as it doesn’t require the post entries to continually follow the ball and clog the key. Typically, because of the dominant position it creates, it doesn’t require the post player to use a tool belt of moves to finish. We teach positionless basketball and want all of our players to be able to play face up basketball. The ball screen throwback option allows us offensively to get post touches in situations that do not require the teaching of back to basket skills.