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Today's Quote: "We pass, we cut, we shoot the ball well and we look for good shots. The main thing is to get a good shot every time down the floor. If that's old fashioned than I'm guilty." - Pete Carril
Today's Theme... the Princeton Offense
Writing about the Princeton offense is not easy as there is really no set "pattern" (such as the flex offense). Instead, it's a way of playing offense using certain principles that require the offensive player to read the defense. For the most part, it is unstructured, using screens and cuts, reading and reacting to the defense.
The Princeton offense was pioneered some years ago by Princeton coach Pete Carril (below). It has been said that this offense might benefit a team whose players are less athletic than most of their opponents. However, I don't think this is correct, as the Princeton offense requires all players to be good passers, good ball-handlers, and good outside shooters, as well as possess a high basketball IQ. If you have a bunch of players like that you can probably win with any offense!
Since players must a good basketball IQ, this offense would probably not be an ideal choice for a youth or middle-school level team, but it would fit a team lacking tall post players, but with good, smart perimeter players.
The Princeton offense is a two-guard offense and doesn't require a superstar point-guard. The offense breaks down into a series of 3-man plays, with some 1-on-1 play also possible. Players are always trying to help each other get a good shot with good screening, cutting, passing and spacing. The back-door cut is a hallmark of the Princeton offense.
It is a more deliberate offense, oftentimes with many passes each possession. This tends to slow the game down, usually resulting in lower game scores. Coaches have to be completely committed as it is a free-lance offense with less control from the bench.
However, plays and quick hitters can be called. It can be used against man-to-man and zone defenses. Against zones that pack the paint, open 3-point shots, attacking the gaps in the zone and attacking the baseline are effective techniques.
The hallmarks of the offense are the spread offense, spacing, constant motion, the back-door cut and lay-up, hitting open 3-point shots, flare screens and screens away from the ball. The basic set can be 4-out with 1-in (either at the high post, or low post), a 2-3 high set, or a 1-2-2 (5-out) set.
A smart post player with good passing skills is important as the offense will tend to revolve around the center, who is often a playmaker. A center who can play at the high post, shoot effectively, and can handle the ball a little, is a real bonus in running the Princeton offense.
When in the 4-out high or 2-3 high set, all players are located at or above the free-throw line extended. This creates space underneath for cutting, especially back-door cuts. The high set and constant motion help eliminate the helpside defense inside. A variety of entries are possible... pass with give and go, UCLA cut, dribble-at with back-cut, high post feed, weave-screen, etc.
Coach Carril discusses three basic sets - his "Low-Post Offense", "High-Post Offense", and the "Chin Series", and how to flow from one set to another. These sets are diagrammed and detailed in the article "Pete Carril's Princeton Offense".
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