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“Running Wide on the Break; Angle in at 45 Degrees!”

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on March 2, 2007

A Boston area player who has taken NTL clinics many times over the past few years, a great guy, a very good athlete who practices with good intention (and asks a lot of questions) one day sent me an email saying that he had played in a pick-up game the day before and that a former D III player (in other words, a player with much more experience than he) who was on his team complimented him for staying wide when they had fastbreak opportunities. It happened to be a topic that we had covered in a recent practice and he was psyched that it benefitted his play, wanted to tell me about it, share his success. I was psyched that he picked up something useful and got some recognition for it. Running wide on the break is one of those little things in basketball that gets overlooked by recreational players, but has big value when applied.

Fastbreak offense is similar to halfcourt offense in the sense that you want to maintain good spacing to keep the defense spread, in this instance, to keep the defense out of the middle of the floor (where the ballhandler is bringing the ball up).

(If you want to conjure a mental picture of “running wide” think of Karl Malone rebounding, outletting to Stockton, and running down the absolute sideline, sometimes so wide that he gave the appearance of being on top of the tables at press row.)

Here’s the rest of it: when you get almost even with the top of the key, begin to angle in at 45 degrees, the angle which will bring you to the hoop on a straight line, just above the block. This accomplishes three important things:

1) if you receive the pass from the ballhandler, it gives you the glass (or backboard) to use for your shot (the backboard is your friend); coming from the baseline and getting to the board is more problematic;

2) it gives you the opportunity to get your body between a middle-of-the-lane defender and the ball when you go in to score. If you caught on the baseline, coming from the corner or below the block, your shot would more likely be exposed;

3) if you do catch coming in at 45 degrees, then it gives you a “window” to hit the opposite wing going to the hoop. Think about it: if you caught on the baseline, the defender, naturally, would be between you and the hoop; you’d have no look, no opening to bounce pass to someone coming in opposite wing. If you caught coming in at 45 degrees, that defender, again, would be between you and the hoop, but because you are not flattened out, you could easily get a bounce pass to that opposite wing teammate streaming to the hoop..

It’s a subtle angle adjustment that yields a seismic shift in opportunities. (And a chance at giving yourself an “alright!” when praised by more experienced players!)

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2 Responses to ““Running Wide on the Break; Angle in at 45 Degrees!””

  1. Greg Herr said

    We NTLers also drill a version of staying wide where we stay wide all the way down the court and get in position to shoot from the corner. I’ve never heard you say specifically when to do which. It seems to me you’d head for the hoop on a 45 degree angle when you have numbers and expect somebody to get a layup and stay wide when the numbers are even and you want to take advantage of defense sagging to the middle, or when you want to pull help defenders away from the lane to open things up for your ballhandler in the middle. Is that about right?

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  2. Greg – –

    Yeah, I suppose I need to be clearer. (By next week, we’re hoping to add diagrams to the “tip” entries which will help clarify issues such as the one you refer to. The “tip” videoclips should not be far behind!) Had there been a diagram you would have seen that, yes, I was referring to a “numbers” situation. Basically, if there’s a chance to get a bounce pass for a layup and score, that’s when you’d hesitate wide at the sideline, “even” with the top of the key. In that situation, there’s no one matched up with you. if the numbers are even, i.e., equal number of defenders as offensive players, then yes, you drag, or hope to drag, that defender to the corner with you. Ball handler drives and dishes to the corner (like the Rockets did about a thousand times to the Celts last night).

    I’m glad you asked.

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