By Thomas Anstett
Coach Anstett has taught English coached at the high school level for over four decades. He is A Golden Apple nominee and two-time inductee (as a player in 2011 and as a coach in 2014) into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame
So, you’re 6’9,” can dunk well, have a good drop step, can hit a hook shot, can make free throws, can offensive rebound well in a crowd, and want to fit into today’s game? Get your three-point shot ready!
The majority of systems today are putting good post play into a dark closet and only opening the door for passers, cutters, flashers, screeners, and an occasional layup. Too bad. A good post player, especially a scoring post player, can open up the entire floor for good perimeter scorers. Too bad so many coaches simply spread the floor to keep the blocks open for dribble-happy drivers. There can be a good balance.
If coaches have a good big player who has a back-to-the-basket game, there are a number of ways that player can be put to good use. Besides using him/her as a ball screener, a major strategy for this player is to use that big body for crunching screens off the ball. Screening and flashing to the ball, a basic basketball play, creates numerous problems for either a man or a zone defense. The singular focus for these screens is for the post player to pick a defender’s body, not a spot on the floor. Body contact – missing in action on many screens in today’s game – is a must for execution. After all, why set a screen and miss the target? This movement can get the ball to the post player in a good scoring position where that player does not have to dribble five times to maneuver into a shot. One quick dribble upon reading the defense is ideal. In addition, post players should learn to REpost after passing out to a wing. Many post defenders relax after the pass out and are vulnerable to that repost where the post player can get better position, draw fouls, and score more easily.
Certainly, if a good big player can handle the ball well and is able to make outside shots, there will be opportunities for those scoring chances also. Furthermore, using a post player to help break pressure is a viable option. That type of use can spell trouble for a defense. Against any press, if the post player has the speed, conditioning, and desire, a “give and go” from the big player down the court to a wing with the big player sprinting to the strong side block after his/her pass is an outstanding weapon for early offense, difficult to defend, and can create mismatches. Another asset for coaches to build in their talented big is convincing that post player to consistently beat his/her defender or the entire defense down the floor in transition. Easier said than done, but a tremendous quality for a big player.
Another attribute for a talented post player is passing ability and instincts. A scorer in the low post attracts all kinds of defensive attention; the pass out of the post can be a winner for the offense, especially to the opposite wing. Being able to get the ball to cutters from behind requires practice using bounce passes from the knee or lower so that the pass is below the arms of the defenders. Pass faking is often overlooked. One good pass fake can alter an entire defense and allow better spacing, better execution and timing of the offense, and fewer deflections by the defense on the actual pass. It is essential that passes from the inside player to perimeter teammates be attempted from a strong mid-stance for good balance and crisper passing.
Making a good low post player the “hub” of an offense makes life much easier for the perimeter players. It also makes for better basketball. Watching players dribble constantly in 1 on 1 isolations dulls the grace and poetry of basketball. Movement of the “spokes around the hub” helps players develop their all-around games, enlarges the potential of the post player, and promotes the creativity of the coaches.