This article was written by Del Harris, retired head coach of the Lakers, Bucks, and Rockets. Coach Harris guided the Rockets to the 1981 NBA Finals. He was also a very successful high school, small college, ABA, International, and NBA assistant coach.
He went to high school and started coaching in Indiana and I have crossed paths with a few of his former players. They all say that even with the success he has enjoyed, he has remained loyal to those who knew him on his way up the coaching ladder.
Spacing is key—Know the Bailout Rules on Penetration
Bailout Dribble Rules-where to go on dribble penetration—creating four pass angles for the ballhandler on penetration at all times
If you are on the perimeter and the ball is dribbled toward you.
• Drift toward the ballhandler so that if your man drops to help on penetration, you are creating an open pass lane to the ballhandler.
• This is true whether you are in the corner on a wing or front angle penetration toward you, or if you are on top and the ball is penetrated toward the middle. In the latter case, drift up and toward the ballhandler so as to be a safety pass outlet and to avoid getting into his penetration path.
• If you receive a pass on the penetration, you may have walked into a rhythm-up jumper or you may run a second penetration and the man who passed to you will curl up behind your second penetration dribble.
If you are on the perimeter and the ball is dribbled away from you.
• Fill cut in behind the dribbler in order to provide a safety outlet pass in the event he cannot get to the goal, pull up for a jumper or pass to any of the other three players on his team. Again, provide a safe angle outlet pass for him.
If you are in the post and the ball is penetrated.
• If you are on the strong side post, move opposite of the dribble and open up to the ball, ready to catch and shoot.
• That is, if you are on the block and the drive is to the baseline, move up the foul line 2-3 steps and 1 step over toward the sideline to create a pass lane, if the defender on the post helps vs. the driver.
• If the penetration is to the middle, the strong side post will pop out 2-3 steps on the baseline ready to catch and shoot, if his man helps. Obviously, if the defender on the post does not help on the penetration, it makes it open more for the penetrator.
• If the post is on the weak side, his move is the same on penetration.
• If the penetration is baseline, he moves to the front of the rim.
• If the penetration is to the middle, he has the option of moving out to the baseline on the weakside or to cross under to the block on the other side of the basket, which I tend to prefer.
If you are on the weak side wing area and see the penetration going down the side line opposite you, quickly drift to the corner to be an outlet along the baseline. The catch phrase on this is, “baseline drive, baseline drift”.
• However, if you are already in the weak side corner and there is a middle penetration from the wing or a penetration from the top, move up a step or two out of the corner. That way, if your defender moves into the lane area to jam the middle, you will create an easy pass lane from the ballhandler for a catch and shoot or a second penetration.
PROGRAMMING YOUR PENETRATION GAME
PROGRAM THE TEAM MOVEMENT UPON DRIBBLE PENETRATION–TEAM PENETRATION MOVES I REFER TO AS “BAILOUTS”.
• THE PENETRATOR MUST KNOW WHERE HIS 4 TEAMMATES WILL BE MOVING WHEN HE PENETRATES FROM ANY ANGLE.
• THIS REQUIRES DRILLING 2-0, 3-0 AND 5-0 SOME IN THE SHOOTING DRILLS.
• THESE PROVIDE HIS BAILOUT PASSES, IF HE CANNOT GET TO THE RIM OR DOES NOT ULL UP FOR A JUMPER.
• SIDELINE PENETRATION TO BASELINE
• SIDELINE PENETRATION INTO MIDDLE
• FRONT OR TOP ANGLE PENETRATION
• CROSSOVER PENETRATION AT TOP
TEACH THE PRINCIPLES OF PASSING GAME AS WELL AS THE PENETRATION GAME—YOUR 3-3 AND 4-4 COACHING SHOULD DO THAT AS YOU FINISH OFF DRILLS THAT ARE DESIGNED TO TEACH THE BASIC FUNDAMENTALS OF OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE EXECUTION OF THE BASIC BASKETBALL 2-MAN AND 3-MAN EXERCISES SUCH AS:
• BACK PICKS
• CROSS PICKS
• DOWN PICKS
• FLARE PICKS
• PICK AND ROLL AT VARIOUS ANGLES
• PINDOWNS AND TURNOUTS
• STAGGERED DOUBLES
USE PICK AND ROLLS
WORK THE MIDDLE, THE HIGH WING AND THE ELBOWS
DEVELOP YOUR PLAYS INTO OPTIONS
INSTEAD OF 10 PLAYS, HAVE 3 OR 4 WITH DEPTH IN OPTIONS.