Key Concepts and Strategies for the Spread Pick and Roll Offense

Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan is one of the game’s top visionaries when it comes to the pick & roll offense. The concept was in place when a Donovan-led Florida program won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007 and has proven to be quite effective at the high school, college, and professional levels.

Watch as Coach Donovan discusses the overall background, key concepts and important techniques to the offense, including the flat pick & roll (which offers multiple opportunities to score in a half-court setting). Plus, catch a breakdown of the offense and plays in action 5-on-5 and see what you can take away from this exclusive look with one of the game’s most respected coaches.

Pick & Roll Concepts

Some of the hardest things to guard in the game of basketball are ball screens and pick and roll action. At Florida, Coach Donovan has featured a few big guys that are quite talented and can catch and pass with the best of them. Any time that you are running pick and roll action, it’s key to have a big guy that can pass, catch and also step back and shoot three-pointers. Under this concept, the big guys need to roll to the basket or roll toward the baseline where they can hit that 15-foot jumper or create something off the dribble.

Everything done here is also based out of spacing and trying to take advantage of the way our pick & rolls are being guarded. For the offensive breakdown, Coach Donovan likes to work backwards and first runs through three main ways that the pick & rolls can be defended:

1) You’ll get a hard show or trap

2) You’ll get a switch

3) The opposition will back off or go under the screen to keep the ball out of the lane.

Once you go through a bunch of pick and rolls through the game, you’ll get a good feel for how they are being defended. Therefore, you need actions in your pick and rolls to take advantage of how the opposition is playing them.


Flat Pick and Roll

First, we want the floor to be extremely spaced. Next, we want the wings to go down to the dead corner to start out. The screener starts off above the three-point line and angles his body with the pick. Players will then move based on when the screener moves off.

The first screen is a ball screen between the top of the key and mid-court. We will take the screener and turn him facing the opposite basket. How far he comes out is based on where and how the point guard is being defended. He’s got to give the guy with the ball one step so he can make a move. Note: This is perfect for teams who have their best player as the PG and he’s getting constantly pressured and hounded. It’s also a great way to relieve pressure so he can go off either way.

So in review, the screener comes up and makes a back screen for the point guard. Once this happens, the PG has the entire floor to work with now.

The goal here is to get two guys on the ball as much as possible. If this happens, our PG has done this job. Now, we are looking to play four against their three in this situation.

Next, there’s a drive down the lane and the option for a pitch out for the three. The guy on the baseline also must make a read. It’s his job to get open. Also, if a player gets the ball to the middle of the floor or paint area, his done his job. That’s the last place the defense wants the ball. So if your player gets in the middle, all other players must work to get open.

Meanwhile, if the ball gets to the man in the corner, there is the opportunity for an immediate post up. We can now throw the ball up top and get right back in it as well. Remember, the screen starts at the FT line. Move and get open and make the game easy for each other.


Pick and Roll in Action

Watch players running the offense now as Coach Donovan provides some key tips along the way. Players should drive the ball down the lane right away. Someone will top you but the game is easier now that you’re in the paint. Drive the ball down the middle and then make a play.

It’s key that players don’t always pass directly into the corner on the 4-on-3. Get the ball into the middle of the paint every time. Meanwhile, off-ball players must read the play and get open.

For the screener, right when you set the screen up top, roll towards the basket and not backwards (where you’ll be a non-threat). The screener must get back into the play quickly after the screen. Also, the PG must make effective use of the screen by rubbing right off his man.


The clips above can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Billy Donovan: The Spread Pick & Roll Offense.” To check out additional videos featuring Coach Donovan, click here.

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