Final Four Playbook by Wes Kosel

Final Four Playbook by Wes Kosel

Each of the teams stayed pretty consistent during the season with what they ran, as we saw a lot of Horns and 4-out motion from Villanova, secondary and box sets from North Carolina, 3 out ball screen and down screen actions from Syracuse, and ball screen actions for Buddy Hield from Oklahoma.

Final Four: Villanova – Horns Rocket Weak Side Ball-Screen

Villanova ran a variety of horns set plays in the NCAA tournament and used this “rocket action” to get the ball moving side to side.


Final Four: North Carolina Tarheels – Box Rip Stagger

North Carolina ran this play to get an open shot for Marcus Paige. The Tarheels do a good job going to box set plays after running their secondary options.


Final Four: Syracuse Orange – 23 Offense

Jim Boeheim used this offense early in the NCAA Tournament and ended up using it less as the tournament went on. The 23 offense allows the guard to work off of the bigs down low running across the baseline and using ball screens.

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Final Four: Oklahoma Sooners – Buddy 

Oklahoma did a great job all year of getting Buddy Hield the ball in situations to score. In this play, Hield runs across the floor and catches with the ability to drive or go straight into a ball screen.


Minnesota HS Man to Man Set Plays

Minnesota HS Man to Man Set Plays

Set Plays for High School Coaches

I have been coaching youth, high school, and AAU basketball in the state of Minnesota for 20 years now.  Every year the competition in this state gets tougher.  Our players here are getting better, and our coaches are also being pushed to become better.  We have some very creative coaches in Minnesota that run both simple but effective sets, to very complex sets that come from college and NBA basketball.  I am lucky enough to be charged with scouting many of our upcoming opponents on film and in person.  I thought I would share a few of my favorite man to man set plays from the 2015-2016 season.

[bctt tweet=”Favorite Set Plays from 20 Year Veteran Matt Johnson” via=”no”]

Double Backscreen:

Simple but effective play starting in a 3 out 2 in set.  4 flashes and catches at elbow while 5 sets back screen for 2.  This is effective false action as 5’s man usually sinks to help on 2.  1 cuts to opposite corner, and 5 comes to elbow to get pass from 4.  2 continues through the lane and sets the second backscreen on 3, who is usually wide open for the easy layup.  Could easily add one more STS (screen the screener) action with 4 screening for 2 coming back to the top of the key for 3.

Double Backscreen set play

Double Flare Backdoor:

A misdirection set play coming out of either 1-4 high, or Horns set.  The HS that runs this usually loads one side with its 4 and 5, but you could easily balance the floor with 2 and 3 in corners as well.  2 pops above three point line to get pass from 1.  4 and 5 sell the double flare with fists in the air, and lots of communication as 1 goes down to level of 4 and runs off both flare screens.  2 takes 1 dribble towards the flare action as 3 comes up towards the wing.  2 plants and pivots back to 3, who cuts hard to the rim and receives the backdoor pass from 2.

Double Flare Backdoor set play

X Shuffle Stagger:

I am a big fan of the STS action in set plays, especially when the initial screen can result in a layup.  Here you start in a 4 out 1 in high post set.  1 swings to 3 and we see the standard scissor cut off the high post.  4 flashes above the 5 and receives the pass from 3.  1 pops out to the wing and the ball is reversed.  2 sets a backscreen on 3 who cuts through the lane for a layup or easy post touch.  2 then comes off a stagger screen from 5 and 4 to the top of the key for 3.  Good way to get a bigger wing a post touch, and a look for your best shooter.

X Shuffle Stagger set play

Shuffle STS:

Similar set play to the previous action.  1 throws to 4 on the wing and cuts to ball side corner.  5 sets a screen for 2 who cuts to the block.  The HS that runs this gets a lot of easy layups because their 5 is 6’9″ and a decent shooter making it tough to help on this action or switch.  If there isn’t a layup, 5 pops to the top of the key and receives the pass from 4.  5 swings to 3, and 2 sets shuffle screen for 4 who cuts to the rim.  5 sets another screen for 2, this time to pop to the top of the key for the 3, or a high low look to 4.

Shuffle STS set play

Quick Lob:

I’ll end with another simple but unbelievably effective set play for a lob to your best athlete.  I watched this HS run this against 3 different teams in its league and should have had the action scouted, but still got the lob.  It starts from a box set with simple down screens for the 2 and 3.  1 makes the pass to 2 on the wing.  4 posts hard to create a little misdirection.  5 turns back around and sets back screen for 3, who runs to the rim. Their 3 man was a solid athlete, but not quite an elite leaper that you see at D1 programs across the country yet he got plenty of easy dunks off this set.

Quick Lob set play

As with any set plays, look to steal what works for your players and program.  Look to make tweaks.  I love stealing and sharing this info with other coaches.  Good luck and keep sharing.

Culture – Step 1: Cast Your Vision

Culture – Step 1: Cast Your Vision

Create Culture with Vision

Culture. Ah, the buzz word for every high school, college, and professional team right now. Most people can recognize great cultures when they see them: the San Antonio Spurs, the Seattle Seahawks, the Michigan State Spartans.

One of the scariest things about culture is the fact that one exists whether you intend for it to or not. So, if you are not being intentional about the development, and advancement, of your culture; then the culture of your will reflect that.

There is always a culture to a team or program.

Angela Duckworth, notable grit and culture expert, recently had this to say in a Seattle Times article by Jayson Jenks:

“My sense is that great coaches are able to create, to forge, a team or identity that says, ‘This is the kind of person we want. This is what it means to be on this team.’ “

(Full article

There are four key pieces to culture: a vision for the program, the core values of the program, the standards in the program, and accountability within the program. Each is vital to a program reaching its full potential and must be consistently emphasized by the leader. If the leader isn’t capable or willing to sell the vision, to filter through the core values, and to uphold the standards set in the program with relentless accountability; no program will reach its potential. BUT … if the leader shares the vision with passion, lives by the core values, and refuses to waiver from the standards of the program; there is no limit to the impact a program can have on team members, fans, and the community.

We’ll focus on vision first. The vision should show team members what can be; it should stretch comfort zones and stir passion within the team. As Henry Ford said, “If I would have asked people what they wanted, they would’ve said faster horses.” Those following don’t know. The leader of the team or program must set the vision.

The vision must also clarify direction and purpose while setting a standard of excellence. Vision statements by big corporations often become too vague. And, as a result, are completely useless. Effective vision statements are easily understood by team members and provide a guide to where they are supposed to be going. If the program has no vision, or if no one in the program knows what that vision is, then team members have no idea of what they are working for or where they are trying to go. Great leaders will paint a picture that team members can see. It changes the daily work – making it meaningful, purposeful because the work is leading to something better than what currently exists.

CathedralBricks, Walls, or Cathedrals?

A man came upon a construction site where three people were working.  He asked the first, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I am laying bricks.” He asked the second, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I am building a wall.” As he approached the third, he heard him humming a tune as he worked, and asked, “What are you doing?” The man stood, looked up at the sky, and smiled, “I am building a cathedral!” –unknown

All three men were doing the same thing, but the vision of what the ultimate goal looked like completely changes the attitude, drive, and quality of the work being done – all because it is now purposeful work in line with an appealing vision.

Here are some examples of simple, clear, and inspiring vision statements:

USA Swimming            To inspire and enable our members to achieve excellence in the sport of swimming and in life.

Ohio State Athletics            We foster a culture that provides the opportunity to develop our student-athletes through success in academics and competition to achieve excellence in life.

George Fox University            To be “the team to beat” in NCAA DIII sports with the most formative athletic experience in the country.

Under Armor            To empower athletes everywhere.

Centerville Basketball            Hunt – better our best every day.

In order for a leader to create the team or program that others dream about; that can change the lives of team members; the leader must craft a vision that presses the limits of what seems possible. If you haven’t taken the time to create a vision for your team or program, I urge you to do so. And, if you have a vision for your program, examine it regularly to be sure that you are pursuing it daily.

Up next: Determining the core values for your team and using them as the decision-making filter for everything in your program!