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During the course of a season, teams will be put into
situations where they will have to face a pressing defense. This
could come about as an all-game strategy or as part of a strategy to
come from behind late in the game. The question is whether or not
you will be ready to face the defensive onslaught that could be coming
your way with your press offense.
The Need for Press Offense
As mentioned earlier, the two ways in which a press can be set up is as an
all-game strategy or as a way to come from behind late in the game. To
protect the basketball and to score against the defense, an effective press
offense is something that coaches will need to introduce during the preseason
and work on during the course of the year. Coaches who do not work on this
counter to the defense's strategy will invariably lose games that they should
win with the proper preparation.
General Philosophy Against the Press
Many teams struggle against pressing defenses because of
the way in which they are being attacked. With all the manpower of
the defense in your backcourt, there should be opportunities to take
advantage of the lack of players in the other team's backcourt.
When playing against the press, this should be standard operating
The first way to take advantage of the press in this
manner is to post up a player against the press. If you are
playing a 1-2-1-1, 2-2-1, or man-to-man press, the defense will have to
take into consideration this player. Somebody on the defense has
to be responsible for him so as to not get beat deep. This forces
a four-on-four situation which favors the offense.
The other aspect is that you must make the press pay for pressing by getting as
many lay-ups as you can. If you are getting high-percentage shots against
the press, they will either have to make up for it with a high volume of scoring
or abandon the press altogether.
Some pressing teams do a great job of getting back on defense while other teams
press so softly that they naturally drop into a half-court defense of some kind.
Should this ever occur, the best course of action is to set up your half-court
offense. It is also a matter of importance that the ball be advanced past
the half-court line as quickly as possible so as to avoid the ten-second count.
Getting the Ball Inbounds
In some instances, you can get the ball inbounds before the press gets set.
If you can do this, have your nearest big man take the ball out of bounds and
get it inbounds as as soon as possible. If this is the way that you plan
to get the ball inbounds against pressure, you must not waste a second in making
this happen successfully.
Most teams like to have the nearest big man take the ball out of bounds because
it can set up the fast break offense. However, in a pressing situation, it
is best to have your best inbounds passer take the ball out of bounds in a
pressing situation. This is because he is used to making the inbounds pass
against pressure with sideline out of bounds or baseline out of bounds pass
Some of the more popular press alignments are presented
in Diagrams 1-3. Diagram 1 shows the three-up/one-back alignment,
Diagram 2 shows the four-up alignment, and Diagram 3 shows the
two-up/two-back alignment. These alignments should be used as
formations to run plays designed to get the basketball inbounds before
the five second count on the inbounds. In all of the
illustrations, the best inbounds passer is #3 and he looks to throw the
Press Offense Against a 2-2-1 Press
When facing a 2-2-1 Press, we want to get our best
ball-handler the basketball on the inbounds as shown in Diagram 4.
When this happens, we want the inbounds passer to get to an open
spot up the floor.
Once the ball is in the hands of our best
ball-handler, we want to employ a rule for all instances when the
ball is in any given spot. We want at least three receivers
near the ball at all times. This will be true for our press
offense if we face either a 1-2-1-1 or a 2-2-1 press defense.
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