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For decades now, Bob Knight has been an influential figure in the development of the motion offense. Used at all levels of basketball, the motion offense utilizes frequent player movement and doesn’t follow a specific pattern. Rather, this offensive scheme is free-flowing and focuses on players making screens to get open. With Knight as your guide, learn about proper spacing and cutting within the offense, two crucial elements that are important to master in order for the offense to be effective.
The motion offense frequently uses reverse action, which is basically taking the ball back one way and then bringing it back another way. The offense also uses cuts that the defense will have a tough time playing and often forces the opponent to switch.
Meanwhile, the motion offense involves three key things: passing, cutting, and screening. As a coach, it’s important to teach your players how to get open, how to get their teammates open, and to also show them the possibilities as a screener and as a cutter.
Within the offense, we also use the screener a lot, including slip screens, where if a defensive player starts to help out on a cut, then the offensive player slips to the basket. This is an effective way to counter switching defenders. While the offense can be utilized against any zone or man defense, we’ll focus on man offense for this feature.
Spacing against the defense enables the offense to score points. When we talk about spacing, that means players should be 15 to 18 feet apart. It’s also important to remember that the baseline is as good of a defensive player as there is in the game.
Proper spacing also allows for the cutting and screening needed in order to get good shots off. Without this spacing, we’ll have too many guys too close to each other and playing in the same part of the floor. In other words, we won’t get anything out of it. The key is to maintain the 15-18 foot spacing, regardless of what the defense is doing.
Keep in mind that Coach Knight isn’t a big fan of having a post player way down low in the post. Rather, this player should go higher up in the lane.
A good way to work on spacing is to implement a spacing conversion drill. This drill works on the transition area from defense to offense and setting up proper spacing on offense at the other end of the court.
Start out with all five of your players around the free throw line on the opposite end of the court. Then on “Go”, have the players sprint down the floor and get into position – all while maintaining proper spacing to get set up. Getting proper spacing in conversion is the first thing needed in order to set up the motion offense.
Post players shouldn’t be real deep in the paint. Instead, they should be in the middle of the lane. For instance, if a wing player gets the ball on the side and has the opportunity to drive baseline, but there’s a post guy down there clogging things up and he can’t go anywhere. But if the post guy is in the middle, then the wing guy can make a fake and then head down toward the baseline. Now he’s got a chance to get to the bucket or hit the post guy as he slides down the lane.
Also, if the post guy starts on the low block, gets the ball there and tries to go baseline, he’s practically under the hoop and has a harder shot. However, in the mid-post position with the ball and with a defender on his backside, the post guy can fake hard one way and then step back and head the opposite direction. He’s got options. It’s key to read the defensive man and use the pivot to your advantage.
Try to read the defensive man all the time. Remember, he can’t cover you in two different directions. Always pay attention to what the defensive guy is doing. This is an important part of cutting as well.
The drive to the basket is a result of good spacing. No matter where we are on the floor, we have to set up the defensive player. Meanwhile, seeing what’s available to the offensive player makes the offense go.
As we mentioned before, cutting is one of the most important ingredients in order to be effective against a man-to-man defense. When making a cut, you want to take your man one way and then you go the other way. If the defender is above you, then take him higher before cutting low (without a screen being involved). If the player is below you, then come down a bit before going up above him.
Stay tuned for future features covering the nuances of the motion offense and more tips from Coach Knight. The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Bob Knight: The Complete Guide to the Motion Offense.” To see more offensive videos, check out our extensive basketball library by clicking here.