One of my favorite parts of the Read & React is that a coach can infuse it with his own personality. There are a ton of ways the Offense can be adjusted to your style of play, your strengths and weaknesses, your personnel, etc. In fact, this blog has a bunch of ideas to help you do just that.

But, those adjustments must happen within the framework of the Offense or you slowly move away from the Read & React and back into traditional motion offense.

So, where does the X-Cut question fall? Let’s go through it.

In the Read & React the very first rule that you learn is: If you pass, you must basket cut. Simple.

The problem some coaches spot within the specificity of that rule is that now you can no longer pass and screen away. And, eventually you start to miss the screen away.

So, a coach who misses the screen away and loves the Read & React (these are not mutually exclusive) gets an idea. What if I changed the Pass & Cut rule just a bit? What if after you pass you could either basket cut or make an X-cut with the player one spot away? That would achieve the screen away and send someone to the basket. And, best of all, it seems like it won’t mess anything up with the other layers of the offense.

That question has created a rousing debate in a couple of forum threads over the last few months and I thought it was just about time to post an official answer on the Tribe. (You can also read Rick’s thoughts which delve into the difference between Read & React and Motion Offense here).

I discussed this with Rick the other day and we came up with the following response.

From a flow of the offense and the seamless transition between layers, adding the X-cut as an option will not mess anything up. This is true.

But, if I were you, I wouldn’t introduce it because it interferes with some of the fundamental principles of the Read & React. There are four reasons for this.

1. Making a decision slows down reaction time. The Read & React is all about being Decisive and Aggressive and to achieve that goal, many of the reactions need to be drilled until they become habit. In layer 1, a player who makes a pass is already into the cut even while the pass is in the air giving him the advantage over the defense. If you add another option, the player has to make a decision, ultimately slowing his cut down and killing that advantage.

2. It won’t take long before the passer will decide which option to use prior to making the pass. This may increase reaction time, but that decision isn’t being made in response the to defense. And, eventually, you may end up with every player making an X-cut instead of a basket cut because it’s easier and safer.

3. There were two goals of the immediate basket cut. First, give the passer the first scoring option. In this way, he gets rewarded for giving the ball up. Second, it sends a message to the entire team that we are always on attack, we always attack North-South and put pressure on the defense. The X-cut takes that scoring option away from the passer and focuses on East-West movement as the primary motion (which is easier to defend).

4. There is decision making in the Read & React, but it comes in later layers and typically is only applicable after the basket cut (when there’s more time). The reason for that goes back to the decisive and aggressive argument. After the basket cut, there’s more time to survey the lay of the land and choose what the next best action is. From here, you can stop in the post, set a back screen, fill out, set a pin screen, use a pin screen, etc.

If you try to turn the Read & React into Bob Knight’s Motion Offense, you’re going to be disappointed and frustrated. The Read & React is not just another motion offense and can’t be treated as such. Trust me, there are tons of ways to add your personality, tweaks, variations into the offense without violating the principles that give the R&R strength.

Ultimately it’s an engineering problem – you can’t make a laptop with unlimited memory and a 52″ screen while keeping it portable. In the same way, you can’t put unlimited options in an offense and keep it focused and sharp. (dshuring does a great job in the sixth post on this forum thread of using football as an analogy to make the same point.)

If the forum threads are any indication, I know you have opinions on this. Either continue with those forum threads or let us know in the comments section.

8 Comments

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  1. mike kent says:

    Rick thanks for the post and for the answer to my question x cut from 5 out posted under ask rick in the forum. By the way let me say I love the offense. This my third year to use it. I coach my son’s 12 -13 year old rec team. This spring was the first time I used the 5 out formation. The post on screening away started me thinking about how you could incorporate some screening action from 5 out.

    The primary thing I was looking for was a way to get a ball screen. I tried to demonstrate the draft drive where the cutter becomes a brush screen as shown in taking pass and cut deeper. However the kids did not seem to get it. So I wanted to make it a little clearer. Pass and follow then set a ball screen and roll. Understand that this was just an option, of course they could basket cut or screen away.

    If you don’t recommend x cutting, are there other ways to incorporate screening action in 5 out?

    1. Rick Torbett says:

      Mike – This is a good time to remind everyone something regarding the ball-screen-traditional-pick-and-roll: Once you have implemented the Foundation (Layers 1-6), the Read & React will support any additional layer in almost any order (Layers 7-20). In other words, if you have layers 1-6 implemented, you can immediately insert Layer 12 THE REVERSE DRIBBLE (Ball-Screen-Pick-and-Roll). This allows anyone on the perimeter to back-up or “reverse” their dribble and thus call for a sprint-ball-screen from a post player, the closest perimeter player, or a designated screener. Everyone else fills the closest empty perimeter spots around the ball-handler in order to Circle Move once the ball-handler uses the pick.

      This is also a good time to encourage new coaches to the Read & React (those who have just purchased the DVDs). Watch both DVDs completely through ONCE before you begin implementing it. You’ll get a big picture of where you are going, what’s available to you, and how best to plan your practice.

  2. Gordan Bombay says:

    @mike kent: The backscreen, multiple staggered screen, corners, pin & skip layers, and dribble handoff layers can provide screens in 5-Out. If you want a pick & roll, the easiest thing to do would be to tell certain players to always use the dribble handoff or give your pg the ability to call for a ball screen as stated in the ball screen.

    Telling kids to pass & screen away or to pass & set a ball screen are motion actions. Screening in R&R happens after you basket cut.

  3. Chad says:

    I think the X-cut could be a specific play after a timeout and/or at the end of a game when the defense “thinks” they know how to defend your cut.
    I agree, by adding the X-cut as an option, you take away the strength of the offense, which is the attack style. Kids will find the easy way out and passing and screening away is easier than cutting hard to the basket.

    1. Matt Ray says:

      I really like the X-Cut. We run it more like a slip screen. We pass to the post screen up or down in 5 Out looking for the open 3’s and then we slip the screen cutting hard to the basket. It is a called play for us at this point (we only X-Cut for our outside shooters).It has help our team open up the offense by putting the defense on their heels.

  4. ckydd72 says:

    I’ve been running the R&R for 3 years. Absolutely love it with one exception. I hate the layer cut when the post player has the ball on the blocks. For two main reasons, difficult pass to make in traffic (young inexperienced players) and it brings another defender down on your post player. This year I want to try getting my wing players to simply X-cut or relocate on all post feeds into the blocks. Only Laker cut when passing into the high post or short corner. Can any veteran R&R coaches foresee a problem with that concept.

    1. Nick says:

      Our entire program runs the R & R. We have had success with the Laker cut at all levels.