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"The System"

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"The System"

“The System” is an extreme run-and-gun style of play that was born from the very pure intentions and idealism behind the "NCAA Division III Philosophy" of the educational benefits that result from participation and inclusion in co-curricular pursuits. So, rather than playing eight out of sixteen players and having half of the team leave the gym unhappy, this style of play allows all players to play and still "get their money's worth" in terms of the number of possessions. Players play in shifts for thirty seconds to a minute-and-a-half. Then, five subs check in. If it's been longer than that, they sometimes even foul, just to stop the clock and get subs in. Using this strategy, a team can play fifteen-to-twenty players per game. Typically, three groups will be used, with the last five players being sort of sprinkled in based on foul trouble and the like. The common misconception is that rapid-fire subtitutions do not allow a player to get into the flow or develop a rhythm, but it appears to be just the opposite--they are never out of the game long enough to get out of rhythm.

A common misconception about "The System" is that it is an undisciplined style of play. If discipline is defined as, "doing what has to be done, doing it as well as you can do it, doing it when it has to be done, doing it that way all the time" (Bob Knight), then “System” teams are as disciplined as any team out there. This (very) fast break is extremely structured and flows into a secondary break that is equally disciplined. The sequence of curls, cuts, screens, slips, drives, and shots are ALL well-thought-out, sequenced, and yes, disciplined. The offense is far more structured than most teams that run a true "motion offense," as that allows for more freedom of movement than does this offense. But they do have the freedom to shoot, early and often.

The System runs a designated outlet to the point guard, a primary shooter runs the right, and the forwards run the left. They do not really look to throw it ahead to the shooter, but rather they clear him through off of a double screen on the weak side. The center trails. This clears the whole right side for the point guard to drive full-speed to the hoop, which is his mission. If, by chance, he cannot, then he knows that the shooter will be in the opposite corner and behind the double for a three-point opportunity. If the shooter does not receive a pass, he does not stop, but rather curls the double screen to the basket and a screener pops the stack in that double screen to the corner for his three-point opportunity. This is a clear-cut offense and is very precise and disciplined. This action of doubles, curls, pops, drive, and kicks continues at a breakneck pace. Players never stop moving and are always looking for "blow by" layups or kick-outs to the three-point line.

When a shot goes up, all five players might crash the boards and not worry much about defensive balance. A team running the system might get back half of their misses in offensive rebounds. You would think that the emphasis on the break and shooting threes would negate opportunities to get to the free throw line (I believe this goal to be worthwhile). But “system” teams typically shoot more free throws than their opponents.

After a score, they get into what amounts to a full-court 1-2-2 full-court press. They have the center on the ball and normally full-front all opponents, daring them to throw over the top. They really leave anyone deep open, using their two deep guys to come up and intercept anything over the top to the front guards. On misses, they jam and double the rebounder with the two closest players and get into a zone press as well, with the same principles. The double teams continue throughout the possession and into the half-court, which would resemble a 1-3-1 match-up half-court trap. If the opponent scores, five inbounds up court quickly and the process starts all over again.

Now, breathe deeply!



11/28/2010 2:39:23 PM
Trevor said:

Is the break always run to the right side? What if someone rebounds the ball on the left side of the court. Are they to try to make the outlet pass the the right or does the point guard come get the ball. If so, wouldn't this slow up the break rendering it ineffective? I like the idea, I just don't see it being practical for every transition.


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