For some beautiful reason, a reason that makes me feel good about the basketball public out there, this has been one of our most popular posts. One point I did not mention in the first incarnation is that Tom Thibodeau, head coach of the Chicago Bulls and an assistant coach together with me at Harvard in the late 1980s, put this play in for us after getting pressured out of our offense in a tournament in San Francisco.
Here is the the video, a shining example of how to diffuse pressure: Michigan State goes high post backdoor.
The original blog post:
In a recent NTL Boston Advanced Clinic, we set-up a high 1-4 offense to introduce players to the “UCLA cut”. The point guard passes the ball to the wing and then cuts off a high post screen to the block. That cut is the UCLA cut. We talked about the issue of getting the ball to the wing if the defender was overplaying there. What to do? What to do? Here’s what we said:
“Bounce pass it to the high post and on the catch, the wing goes backdoor to get a bounce pass for the score. This ‘pressure release’ play is a play that has been around a long time and it’s one that teams like to use coming out of a time-out, if the other team has been overplaying or are all jacked up, for some reason. You make them pay for taking away your pass to the wing.”
So, there I was last night, watching the Michigan State/Carolina game in the 2nd round of The Tournament. Carolina, of course, is pressuring Drew Neitzel and all the other Spartans everywhere and, then, time-out with about 2:30 left in the first half. Feeling somewhat drugged from the previous six hours of watching hoops, I open one eye to see MSU go 1-4, bounce pass to the high post, bounce pass to the cutting wing backdoor for the score. I wanted to email and phone everyone in the clinic and say, “did you see that? Did you see that? That’s how it works!” Instead, I high-fived my wife, low-pawed the dog, got back into the game. State ran the same play at least three more times, all with varying degrees of success (and with an eventual new wrinkle or two). That play brought to mind the Michigan State/Princeton match-up in the first round of the NCAA’s in 1998 when Michigan State turned the table on The Tigers, and in the process totally demoralized them, beat them at their own game, by scoring off that same high post pressure release play backdoor for the last play of the half.