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While I was at William Jewell College with Larry Holley, our teams always ran a 1-4 high offense designed to take advantage of pressure and sagging man-to-man defenses.  We felt more comfortable with our personnel running a set offense and the 1-4 high worked well against either a pressure or sagging man-to-man defense and it also had its advantages against certain types of zone defenses depending on how we utilized the offense.

Advantages of the 1-4 High Offense

The 1-4 high offense works great when you have two post players who are complimentary and three players who can play on the perimeter.  This is a double-post offense and your post players will be working in and around the free throw lane and free throw circle.  Your perimeter players will only go into the post on rare occasions, but they will mostly stay on the perimeter.  Limiting the area where they have to play can make the offense more simplified for your players.

Second, the 1-4 high offense is set up in such a way that the point guard has four near receivers to pass to as a way to start the offense.  This allows the point guard more options as to how he can start the offense.  He can enter with the dribble or the pass to either one of the four players at the free-throw line extended.  This helps especially when the point guard is facing a pressure man-to-man defense.

Third, the high alignment allows for great backdoor and post-up opportunities.  The posts being brought high allows for post passes to turn into quick hitters with wing players cutting to the basket.  The posts are also set up so that if there is a dead front of the post, a lob play can become an automatic.  Also, when the ball gets entered to the wing on the dribble or the pass, the posts can situate themselves in such a way that they can post up high or low to receive the basketball.

Fourth, the 1-4 high offense works well against zone defenses in that the four high players can permit entry into the offense either with an entry into either one of the post players or either one of the perimeter players.  The 1-4 high set can be used to get your team into your zone offense.

Finally, the 1-4 high offense, like many other set offenses, is easy to teach and it can be installed in a matter of days.  Unlike motion offense, the 1-4 high offense allows players to learn the system quickly and there is such a diversity of options that you can take advantage of what your players can do well.

Disadvantages of the 1-4 High Offense

Like all patterned offenses, the 1-4 high offense has the tendency to be easily scouted.  Actions are all predetermined by what happens based on ball movement and player movement.  Being predictable can get you beat if you are playing a team that can successfully scout out everything you want to do.

Second, the 1-4 high offense requires three-out/two-in personnel.  Very rarely can you run this offense if you don't have this type of personnel on the court.  Adjustments are necessary and it can put players in a disadvantageous position if you don't adjust.

Finally, unless you put specific elements of two-man games and three-man games into your offense, your defense will suffer.  Being able to put certain elements in your 1-4 high offense should help, but you may need to take away from practice time to work on elements that are not incorporated in your offense.

Post Option

On our post option play, #1 passes in to either #4 or #5 in the high post (#4 in illustration).  Once ball-side and help-side have been established by the pass into the post, the ball-side wing will cut to the basket and look for the backdoor.  The help-side post steps out in anticipation of setting a flare screen for the point guard.  The help-side wing will start down the sideline and go to just above the help-side low block getting ready to set up for the point guard's decision.  From here, the point guard will make a decision as to which way he goes.

The first option for the point guard is to pop to the ball-side wing and look for the ball from the post player with the ball.  If the point guard gets the ball, the post who passed it to him is going to slide down to the ball-side low block and #2 is going to come off of a stagger double set on the help-side lane line by #3 and #5.  The options for the point guard are as follows:  #4, #2, #5 on the slip to the basket if the screen is switched and #3 on the slip to the corner.  If #1 cannot get the ball, #4 stays put and waits for the stagger double to develop.  In that case, #4 can pass to #2, #5 going to the basket or #3.

Post Option (Point guard uses two-man game with #4 to set up the stagger double for #2).

If the point guard decides to use the flare screen set by #5 and not follow his pass, #2 will clear out to the ball-side corner and #3 will put his head under the basket.  #4 will look to pass to #1 to set up the double down for #3.  Here, #4 and #5 will set a double down screen for #3 after #1 has received the ball.  Our #3 will come off of the help-side shoulder of #4 and go straight to the point where he will receive the ball from #1.

Post Option (Point guard uses the flare screen to set up the double down screen by #4 and #5).

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