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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 procedure.

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 entries.

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 basketball inbounds.

Diagram 1

Diagram 2

Diagram 3

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.

Diagram 4

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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