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Fran Fraschilla

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Now, on to the Princeton high post sets

By Fran Fraschilla
Special to ESPN.com

Sorry for the delay, class. Championship Week is keeping everyone a little behind.

But, last week, in Part I of the Princeton Offense, we covered the low post offense within this system. This week we will cover the high post offense.

Interested in the X's and O's of college basketball, but don't understand the terminology? Read ESPN's Fran Fraschilla's introduction to Hoops 101 on ESPN.com for a crash course in the basics of basketball.

Remember, we emphasize how important the center is in this offense because he is the primary playmaker. Also, keep in mind that the other four players are interchangeable, so it would not be unusual to see three or four guards out on the court at the same time.

For a refresher course on Part I of the Princeton Offense, click here.

Part II: The High Post Offense

The alignment and first cut of the high post offense in the Princeston Offense begins when the point guard (1) passes to the off guard (2) and cuts through the elbow area, looking to brush the center's man as center (5) flashes to the elbow. You'll notice that there are three perimeter players on the opposite side of the court from the center.

Pass and Slip Split
On the pass to the center, notice the backdoor opportunity for the small forward (3) if he is overplayed. After the off guard (2) passes to the center (5), he screens away for the power forward (4), who slips the screen and back-door cuts to basket if his man "cheats" to get over the off guard's screen.

As soon as the power forward (4) cuts, the off guard (2) pops back out for the pass from the center and the shot. Or, when the center (5) comes over to screen, the 2's man naturally "jumps" toward the screen. That allows the off guard (2) to "reject" the screen and drive to the basket.

Notice, also, that on the drive to the basket by the off guard, if the point guard's man leaves to help, the off guard is able to pass to the point. This is known as "penetrate and kick" or "draw and kick" ... as in, draw the defender and kick it to the open man.

Here's an example of the center (5) passing back to the off guard (2), who uses the center's screen as the small forward (3) down screens for the power forward (4).

Another option if for the off guard (2) to pass to the power forward (4), as the center (5) sets a "flare screen" for him. If the off guard's defender goes under the screen, he has the jump shot.

Now, if the off guard's man follows him over the top of the screen, he has a great driving angle to the basket, and if the point guard's man helps again, we have the "draw and kick". By the way, this is what Dicky V. means when he says a player is a "3-D guy" -- drive, draw and dish.

Pass and Post Split
On pass to the center (5), the off guard (2) screens for the small forward (3) in a "post split". The small forward "reads" his defender and if the defender plays off him, he will use the screen for the jump shot. The point guard (1) sets a "flare screen" on the other side of the court, primarily to keep the defenders occupied.

Post and Post Slip Split
If X3 plays his man "tight", the small forward (3) will fake coming off the screen and back-door cut to the basket for a layup. Once the 3 back cuts, the off guard (2) pops out to the wing.

As the center (5) passes back to the off guard (2), he will come over to screen for him, and when 2 uses the screen, the center can "pop" out for the jumper, or "roll' to the basket. On the other side of the court, the small forward (3) uses the "staggered double screen."

If the off guard's man jumps toward the screen, 2 drives it baseline, as, hopefully, the "staggered double" will occupy three defenders on the opposite side of the court.

The Spin Dribble
Once the point guard (1) has cut through, and the center (5) flashes to the elbow and is denied a pass, the off guard (2) reads this and spin dribbles back to the power foward (4). If the 4's man "cheats up" as 4 steps to the ball, the poward forward will back-door cut as 2 throws the one-handed bounce pass by the defender.

If the power forward (4) is not open, the off guard (2) passes to the point guard (1) as 4 posts up on the block. The off guard then uses 5's "flare screen" for the jump shot.

Or... The drive and the "draw and kick" with 3.

There are so many more options we can get into, but it would take all the college basketball season, the NBA season (remember to watch the New Jersey Nets run this offense) and into next football season. We have given you, however, the basic idea of what to look for in the "Princeton System".

Remember, it is an offense that has been around a very long time in the Ivy League. But, now, Carril's influence has extended to the ACC, the Big Ten, the Mountain West, and the NBA. As the saying goes, "Everything old becomes new again".

Q & A with Fran Fraschilla

Fran Fraschilla would like to thank everyone for e-mailing questions throughout the season. Enjoy the NCAA Tournament and be sure to come back to class next season for Hoops 102.

Here are few answers to last week's questions.

I really enjoy your Hoops 101, and though I'm a lifelong basketball fan, player, and youth coach, I have learned a lot of insights. I was wondering if you would do a Hoops 101 on the offensive system used by Loyola Marymount during the late 80's. I have looked all over for something that would explain how they did what they did, but I can't find anything that breaks it down. Thank you.
Danny Fittro,
Pahrump, Nev.

Thanks for the question. Paul Westhead's Loyola Marymount team put college basketball on its ear just a little over a decade ago by consistently averaging over 100 points a game. The simplest way to explain the system is that the Lions ran on every situation: missed shots, made shots, turnovers, steals, up 25 points, down 25 points, etc. They basically took the first part of what we now call the Kansas fast break (see Transition Offense on Jan. 21) and attempted to get a shot off a defensive rebound in under 7 seconds. On made shots, they attempted to get a shot in under 3 seconds -- that is not a typo -- by religiously getting the ball inbounded as soon as it went through the net.

The idea behind this system was to, obviously, outscore their opponents by creating a tempo of play that was uncomfortable for them. Conditioning played a huge factor, as well. And, this style takes an incredible amount of discipline and single-mindedness because you must play fast for the entire 40 minutes.

Westhead concerned himself very little with the defensive end, but did institute a full-court press designed to force turnovers, force quick shots, and even, at times allows easy shots in order to lull opponents into a pace they were not used to.

If you are interested in this system of play, contact coach Dave Arsenault of Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. They finished 19-6 and averaged ONLY 124.8 points a game. He has some excellent tapes on his system.

I am a 13-year-old, and I am very into the details of the game (I write plays in literature class). Not only was I wondering if you had any thoughts or advice for this, but I was also wondering what offense Bill Self runs for the Fighting Illini. It seems to be some type of high-low, but I'm not sure. Thanks
Washington, D.C.

I am excited about your passion for the game. You are off to a great start in coaching. Just don't fail Literature!

I would suggest writing to your favorite coaches and ask them if they have any "X and O" materials written up that they could send you. Most coaches will oblige. Also, try to find out about coaching clinics in your area to attend. If you call a high school coach near you, they could probably tell you about clinics scheduled. Coach Morgan Wooten of DeMatha High School always had a great clinic every Fall in Hyattsville.

With regard to Bill Self's offense, you are right on the money. Their motion offense is a "high-low" offense that is designed to spread the half-court with "four out" on the perimeter to create space inside for a post-up player. It is a continuity motion because the action is the same on each ball reversal. Contact him and ask for information on his tapes ... and tell him I said "hello".

Wisconsin has enjoyed great success under Coach Bo Ryan, who has won two Big Ten championships in his first two seasons in Madison. Ryan runs what experts refer to as the "swing" offense. What exactly is the "swing" offense, and how does it relate or compare to some of the classic offenses you've been explaining in this column?
Dylan Willow,
Madison, Wis.

Coach Ryan has done another terrific job this season with the Badgers. In part, it is because the "swing" offense is very difficult to defend.

In order to get a good understanding of the "swing", refer back to our earlier columns on the "flex offense" and the "UCLA offense" because this offense is a combination of the two. It involves elements of the baseline flex cut, which provides for great continuity on the ball reversal side to side. And, the UCLA cut in the "swing" allows guards to post up inside like Kirk Penney, and post players pop out on the perimeter like Mike Wilkinson.

The interchangeability of all five points on the court is, in my opinion, what makes this offense, ultimately, so hard to guard. Those 6-2 guards don't want to defend a physical player like Penney posting, and big guys are not used to defending out away from the basket.

I am a freshman at Shawano High and we had a HUGE problem with starting games intense. We waited until the other team had 10 or 12, then we started playing. As a result we lost games by 8-12 points. Sometimes we were able to start quick and we won games. Our season is over now, but I don't want to have this problem the rest of my high school career. What can we do to start quicker and come out more intense. Any suggestions, drills, sprints, etc.
Alan Tomow,
Keshena, Wis.

I like your interest in making your team better. It sounds like your team needs to warm up harder. There is nothing wrong with going full speed in warm ups before the game, but be careful not to burn yourselves out.

Remind your teammates during the off-season, that in addition to passing, shooting, and dribbling -- PLAYING HARD is a skill. If each of you would commit to playing hard, your team would 20 percent better automatically. That means in the off-season, in preseason conditioning and every day in practice. Make playing hard a habit so that it is always a given when your team plays next year.

Fran Fraschilla spent 23 years on the sidelines as a college basketball coach before joining ESPN this season as an broadcast analyst. He guided both Manhattan (1993, 1995) and St. John's (1998) to the NCAA Tournament in his nine seasons as a Division I head coach, leaving New Mexico following the end of the 2001-02 season.

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