Last night, the streets of Indianapolis were quiet, essentially vacant when you consider what they were like after Saturday night’s Final Four games. Butler’s Cinderella run fell 3 points short from being the perfect story. Regardless of the loss in the finals, I can’t look at Butler’s season as anything but successful. You almost couldn’t ask for a closer game. Only the scoreboard can separate the difference between these two teams; one shot, one pair of Free Throws, one turnover early in the game, one made or missed put-back, one call by the officials.

Coach Brad Stevens has a great future ahead of him.

And congratulations to the Duke team and Coach Mike Krzyzewski! What a fun team to watch all season long. When I consider Duke’s team, the word balance comes to my mind. Which is stronger: their defense or their offense? Everyone on their team rebounds on both ends of the floor. Their offense has a nice mix of dribble penetration, passing, post play, and screens. You can’t concentrate on stopping just one aspect of their offense or stopping one particular player.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski continues to build his legacy as a legend in this game.

But these are not the things I want to draw your attention to. I want you to forget the rest of the tournament and only consider the last three games – the Final Four and the Final.

If you recorded the games, then go back and count the number of times that the following happened:

I’m simply amazed at the number of times that this occurred. The ball handler goes 1 on 1 and all of his teammates stand and watch!

By the way, I’m going to watch the women’s finals tonight and look for the same action. (Or, lack of action I should say!)

Let me describe this action in more detail:

  1. The ball handler makes his move.
  2. The defense helps, just like they’ve been trained to do, and the move is stopped. For a moment, there are two defenders guarding the ball, which leaves one offensive player open – somewhere.
  3. While the ball handler pivots around and desperately searches for a relief pass, the second defender has time to rotate back to his player, making it tough to find anyone open.

If these teams had the Read & React Offense as their base of offensive operations, a teammate would already be directly behind the ball handler at the moment of stoppage: the Safety Valve from our Circle Movement Layer.

The other 3 offensive players would be spaced in such a way that the defense is stretched to cover them all. In other words, two defensive players could not cover the three offensive players. Additionally, the ball handler would know where these teammates would be in every situation. Most of the time, at this level, the Safety Valve behind the penetrator would be open.

These teams could still run their quick-hitters. They could still initiate offensive action any way they want. Duke could still use their 3out 2in screening actions. Butler could still begin action with their East-West weaving hand-offs. But when the ball decides to attack or drive, the Read & React would rotate everyone in the opposite direction of defensive rotation and place them in the best passing windows – along with a safety valve option!

I’m not even considering the remaining 16 Layers of actions that would be tied together. I’m not considering how Perimeter Passing and Post Feeds and Pin & Skips would allow these teams an unbroken stream of 5-player-continuity. I only want you to consider one Layer from the Read & React and what it would have meant.

Do you think that the Safety Valve option from the Circle Movement Layer would have accounted for at least one more basket?

Would it have cut turnovers down by one or two?

What difference would just this one Layer have made in this tournament?

Two points to tie. Three points to win.

These aren’t my teams. I have no dog in the hunt. But it still makes me a little sick to my stomach.

16 Responses

  1. I agree without a doubt that it was a fantastic game which is more than i can say for the womens final but I digress. I totally get your point here and it is one of the many reasons why I bought into the R&R the first place. I’d like to see the day when offense isn’t 1-on-2 or 1-on-3 with 4 spectators but fingers crossed Rick. If we do our jobs right at the grassroots, we may see those results funnel all the way up to top. Great example here is the Iowa program, 2nd round is nothing to scoff at. I cant wait to see these ladies next season since all they need to do is reload not rebuild. Should be a great thing!

    1. We’ll get there if we keep after it. It takes a while to for a grassroots movement to get to the top, but building the base in our youth programs (18 and under) will pay off. I agree about Iowa. It’s going to be a fun thing to watch next year! It’s a great game – thanks for helping with the Read & React!

  2. After buying the read and react system last week and spending much of my holiday weekend absorbing it I could’nt help but keep rewinding the games with my dvr and pointing out what I learned and how it could help both teams. The craziest thing about it is the people who were in the room with me have little-zero basketball IQ and understood what I was saying. Im flat out sold!

    1. I’m glad to hear you say that! I was asked this past weekend (at the Final Four) what I thought was the most undersold aspect of the Read & React and my answer was pretty much what you said: It allows coaches and players to view, discuss, and describe the actions in a game on much more intelligent basis. It allows you to analyze macro-movements of the entire team in terms of what should be done to counter your opponent. And you don’t have to have 30 years experience and/or a high basketball I.Q.! I should have added what you said – that you can do it instantly after viewing the system! Thanks for pointing it out!

    1. That is true. There definitely is A LOT of circle reverse going on, but I’m not so sure it’s a good thing (at least not in the way I’ve seen it).

      It seems to me that every time the ball is dribbled East/West, the player who is being dribbled at, circle reverses. This brings four players into the same space – the dribbler, the reverser, and both defenders. I suppose it could create a brush screen scenario where the reverser could take the hand off and turn the corner or even spot up for a European 3, but it seems that most of the time, the two offensive players just switch positions. High Five! (he wrote sarcastically)

      Now, if all you want to do is get the ball out of a lesser player’s hands into a ball handler’s hands, then I get it. (That is one way the Power Dribble is used in the R&R.) But, you typically see this reversing action between the top 3 ball handlers on the court so it must be designed for some purpose (I’m not readily aware of that purpose).

      Offense should always be threatening the basket. That’s why in the R&R, an East/West dribble creates a basket cut. That’s why following a Power Dribble, the player that handed off rolls to the lane. And, that’s why a player must cut after making a pass.

      The bottom line is that defenders typically don’t have to guard East/West action as aggressively as North/South action and because of this East/West doesn’t take the defense out of its comfort zone as readily as North/South. So, as far as I’m concerned, I’m going to attack North/South as much as possible.

  3. I think it’s pretty funny to question the Final Four and how it would have changed if they would have had your system in. It’s like saying, what if so-and-so would have made that one shot? What if that one pass hadn’t gotten deflected?… It’s picking bb’s out of a barrel. I am curious, Rick, have you ever been a coach?

    1. I think it makes perfect sense to apply the R&R to our analysis of the Final Four. Granted, Rick created it, which puts him in a difficult position when discussing it – any time there is a situation (like this one) where he thinks the R&R would have helped, it sounds as if he’s arrogant or simply pushing product. Neither is true.

      Whether you agree with the Read & React or not does not change the problem; when set plays break down, a player is forced to go 1-on-1 and most of the time, the remaining 4 players stand still.

      The R&R is our solution to that problem (there are others). Rick created it specifically for that reason so it makes perfect sense for him to analyze games and outcomes through the R&R – it is his lens. In fact, if I were a R&R coach, and Rick didn’t believe his system the best available, I would be worried. 🙂

      As for ‘picking bb’s out of a barrel’; suggesting that improved spacing and movement (intelligent basketball actions) are the same as a made or missed shot or a deflected pass (uncontrollable instances) isn’t accurate. There are reasons why Circle Movement could make a difference in a game’s outcome (fewer turnovers, more open shots) that have nothing to do with the incidentals of the game (missed calls, unlucky bounces). All I know is I can control whether my players move without the ball. I can’t control whether the ball goes in the basket.

      Hope that helps and thanks for the feedback. I look forward to other comments from other coaches as well. Speak up, we love the dialog.

      Oh, and Rick coached High School Boys Varsity programs for 24 years. He’s since served as a consultant for many college programs including several D1 schools.

  4. Hi Scott,
    I think you brought up some great points about Rick’s credentials. Rick’s High School Boys Varsity win-loss record for 24 years was over 70 % in the win category. I have watched and studied all of Better Basketball DVDs. The more I study the Read and React Offense, the more amazed I am how effective it is and easy to coach. I believe the R&R Offense will rejuvinate and inspire tons of coaches worldwide.

  5. Coach Calapari’s dribble motion emphasizes reverse circle movement. Coach K’s offense emphasizes motion concepts with reads of screens. Both are great but basketball still comes down to the fundamentals. I believe the R&R is exactly what any coach at any level would want players to understand on a fundamental basis. Fundamentals were being taught on a new level in Europe and it’s starting to carry over as evidenced by the NBA and NCAA increasing drafts and recruits from Europe. I see a nice blend of European style of play and old school passing game/motion/princeton and triangle in the R&R. Their is a reason they are being recruited and drafted in Europe…not to mention pushing our best 12 players in the country to the limit with 1 or two NBA players on each roster. Why is this? I would be suprised if any coach at the NBA or NCAA level would want a coach to run another system to prepare players. As far as Rick’s coaching experience; Im grateful someone had the vision and where-with-all to work so hard at putting together sound research (especially in europe) and common sense to better the game of basketball. I trust it cause it will work at any level and many of the principles are what keeps some european teams in the game against Team USA. Its that simple…many times Team USA makes plays and Europe executes plays. I cringe watching NBA and NCAA games at times cause it is so far from being a team game. But it’s hard not to appreciate international play when the less talented team is “out-basketballing” the more talented team. I believe basketball always reinvents itself and the R&R is a great start at reinventing how to play the game. Yours in hoops. Jerry

    1. Hey Niall – I asked Coach Self to analyze it and give me his opinion – to see if he could poke any holes in it – perhaps point out something I missed. I did the same thing to Andy Landers, Jim Davis, Nancy Lieberman, Rick Barry, etc. I respect and learn from great basketball minds like these, but I don’t ask or require them to run the offense or use my dvds. I think he’s a fan because of what the system does as whole for developing basketball from the grassroots up. But at his level, he’s probably very comfortable with what got him there.

  6. Its funny that people take cheap shots in here i guess if you stumbled onto this site your looking for ways to be a better coach. I am too and I apreciate the guys who put stuff like this together. If you don’t like this and have found something that teaches players to play the game in a more fundamentlly sound manner post it. I’d like to see it. I used read and react this year because I thought it was one of best teaching styles for players at the high school level. It worked so well that we beat teams this year that were much more talented than we were and won the state tournament (something that had only happened at my school twice in about the last 40 years). We finished the season 22-3. What is more important than that however is simply that my players improved so much in there ability to effectively use spacing and read the defense. Now when they move on to other programs they have developed the correct fundamentals that can be used in any system or any set for any coach at any level. (think about it, when your kids graduate do they take your sets or motion offense with them to their college team?) I bought the dvds because I was curious if they could really live up to there claims and I am happy with the results I see in my players. Infact, the only negative thing I can find about this is that it works so well I know that I’ll be coaching against teams that have taught their players to read and react to my defense soon.

  7. Basketball is an international game. i’m from Norway.
    whats the plan international wise…
    We see these high schools and colleges that are learning the Read and React.
    but what about us overseas? Can we evolve like the players from the great programs? maybe it’s just gonna be this way. who knows? If everyone would be like Iowa, all over the world, im shure much have been accomplished.
    What about us outside the U.S?

  8. Coach Wynn – here’s a few examples of what’s going on outside the U.S. with the Read & React.

    Just yesterday, I received an email from a young coach in Japan. (We’ll post his story and pictures very soon.) His junior high team began this past season not winning a single game. He finished the season (with the Read & React) March 30,31 by winning the 11th Annual Junior High Hiroshima Cup. Because of the Read & React System, he was able to play ALL 17 players in the qualifying games of the tournament!

    The head coach of one of the four Ireland Provincial Academies runs the R&R program-wide. Also, Sean Conroy coached the Maree 18 under boys to win the 2009 National Cup in Ireland with the Read & React.

    Eric Balinbin (originally from Hawaii) runs the Read & React with teams from 6th grade to 12th grade in Luxembourg. He’s the only one I know in that country, but he’s converting a lot of coaches into “believers” with his success.

    There are clubs in the UK, Canada, and Belgium that have emailed with their success stories.

    Most recently, I gave a clinic to a group of international coaches in Indianapolis during the Men’s NCAA Final Four. These coaches were also heads over various federations for their entire country are looking to implement the Read & React system-wide. The coaches were from Slovenia, Turkey, Qatar, Iraq, Maldives, and Kurdistan.

    The problem with what the Read & React is doing internationally is the same problem that I have in the USA: I don’t know anything until someone emails me, or responds in our forum, or calls the BB website.

    A good example of this is that a friend of mine informed me that a girls high school team won the California State Championship running the Read & React. He was commenting about what a great job they did with it and he assumed that I knew who he was talking about! It was the first that I had heard about it.

    I can’t expect every coach running the R&R to contact me – but, that’s the only way I find out. (Unless a friend tells me!)

    I’m going to make a Spanish version later this year. If that goes well, I’ll consider other languages. If you have any suggestions about how I can help it spread internationally, let me know. Basketball is basketball, regardless of the culture.

  9. Rick,
    Well were to start. I implemented the R & R offense 3 years ago with my high school team that only had 7 girls. I fell in love with because of its may shemes. I just added it to my sons 4th grade school team and have them running 4 layers. The boys picked it up and now can run power, speed, and circle movement in their sleep. I do not scrimmage much but run most of our competive drill using the layers as the basics. It was great to see our boys be so succesfull this year winning the Southern Colorado Fall leage (Which includes all the top teams in our area). What I liked most is my teams know how to play the game. I can make ajustments during timeouts on the fly and they can pick it up. I know that when I bought the first series it was overwelming and I didn’t think I could implemented it. But later I found it to be so simple. The second series was even better (Love the tennisball games etc.)

    I joke with my coaching buddies when they ask me what special plays and offense I will be running this year – I tell them I’m not running any plays or offense. Just Principles.

    Thanks Rick for all the research

    Carlos Lopez
    Head Girls Basketball Coach
    Pueblo Centennial High School

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