Occasionally, I will hear the following phrase from College coaches and even certain levels of High School. It sounds something like this:
“When we first began using the Read & React we scored (some or a lot) from Passing & Cutting. But now, we very rarely score with this action. I’m concluding that it’s good for youth teams, etc., but not for our level. So, I’m thinking about not spending so much time on it anymore. I even wonder if I could drop it from the Read & React.”
This is usually followed by their statistics and observations of their final scoring actions:
- A drive to the basket
- A score by someone in the post
- Baskets created by a particular screening action
Conclusion: If this is how our possessions finish, then why not start your possessions with these actions? In fact, why don’t we simply drop everything else and major in these actions?
I have a word of caution for you – a question for you to consider before buying into this line of thinking:
When is the last time you saw a professional boxer knock out an opponent with a jab? Ever? Never?
Most of us will answer “Never”. If that’s the case, then why do professional boxers continue to throw jabs more than any other single punch? Using the basketball logic from above, shouldn’t boxers drop the jab and major on their knock-out punches?
Even casual fans of boxing know why boxers continue to jab throughout the match. Jabs do occasionally land and score points. But the main reason they continue to jab is that it sets up other punches that are used to knock out the opponent. Boxers use the jab to force their opponents to defend in a certain manner. When their opponents shift and move to defend the jab, the boxer can follow-up or counter with the appropriate knock-out punch!
In other words, the simple, fundamental jab, sets up the effective knock-out punch or knock-out combination!
This is how the basketball coach should view Layer 1- Pass & Cut in the Read & React. Don’t lose sight of the fundamentals that set up your final scoring action. The constant threat of scoring a lay-up every time the ball is passed is the “jab” that sets up everything else. There is a reason it is the first and perhaps, most important action of any offense, but especially, the Read & React.