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Michigan State’s Pressure Release Play

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on March 18, 2007

Michigan State Pressure Release PlayIn 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.

4 Responses to “Michigan State’s Pressure Release Play”

  1. Greg Herr said

    I liked the way MSU played and have learned to respect Tom Izzo as a coach. As a root-for-the-underdog fan, I enjoyed the Xavier and Purdue games the most. I liked Xavier’s spacing and patience on offense, and the courage it took to run isolations against Oden. Cage must have had no legs left when he missed that free throw.

    Purdue played such tough defense — up so tight all the way to midcourt against a really athletic team. Inspiring.


  2. Ed Pearson said

    I learned this play in Cambridge last week. It was pointed out that the ball handler should look to the players on the weak side as well. I know it really helps me to concentrate on a play. Knowing where to go prevents me from running around wildly as I usually do!


  3. […] Comments (RSS) « Michigan State’s Pressure Release Play […]


  4. John Loose said

    Michigan State ran that backdoor play against Princeton at the end of the first half. The real irony is that Princeton had two sub forwards in the game at the time, and still had a foul to give, so either one could have (and should have) grabbed the cutter. Instead, it was a successful backdoor.
    But that wasn’t what killed them: it was the Mateen Cleaves 3 pointer at the top of the key in the final minute of the game.

    BTW, Sporting News ran a GREAT article about Tom Izzo’s forty-eight hours of pre-game film prep about that game. A true classic. If you can find it, please post the URL.


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