Cal Basketball Offense: 1-4 set, into pick and roll

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

So last time I talked about our flex (or motion) based offense. I wanted to write about this nifty play I saw when re-watching the Arizona at Cal game from a couple weeks ago. Also, I've been seeing a lot of talk about "calling plays" or "calling ISOs" or Cuonzo needing and Xs and Os guy - and what I've observed, is the majority of our offense is a player decision driven one. What I mean by that is, a lot of the decisions made on shooting, passing, driving the ball is really up to the guy who the ball in his hands.

So if we're looking to get the ball to a specific guy in a specific spot, its incumbent on the decision maker to know the play options and if we're looking, say for Ivan in the post - to initiate the offense options that set that up. We don't, however, do things like the Lakers used to do with Kareem (the FIST play) where Kareem sets up in a specific spot, then all the player run to their specific spots. What we have is an offense that puts the responsibility on the coach in teaching the play options in practice and the guys being familiar with it to automatically know where to go and where to set screens.

Of course, end of half or game plays will be different.

I've often talked about 1-4 sets - and this is a fun way to set your offense in motion. You'll also hear this called UCLA or a UCLA cut - all it is really is about how a team gets into its offensive flow. (You'll also often see reef get excited about a high horns entry - but in order to spite him, I decided to write about this 1-4 because my high school also ran a lot of 1-4)


So here's our set up. Sam Singer has the ball in the Bear. He's the 1 of the 1-4. From the top we have lined up along the free throw line extended Jabari Bird, Ivan Rabb, Kingsley Okoroh and Jaylen Brown. You want your two big men lining up at the elbows, with your two wings on the. . . wing.


Sam sets the offense in motion by passing to Jaylen on the wing, and cutting hard off the King back screen (this is the UCLA cut) - Jaylen should be looking for Sam to get open immediately off the back screen, but almost zero teams will give up this back screen for a layup.


Jaylen then dribbles towards the middle and up to give himself a better passing angle, while Ivan steps out beyond the three point line. At the same time, Sam is tearing around the baseline, while Jabari sets up his back cut. If Ivan sees Jabari open on the backdoor, or if Sam is significantly open on his cut, Ivan also has the option to throw those passes.


Now we can see Jabari starting his cut to the weakside (the side away from the basketball) and Sam has arrived to the strong side, so Ivan gives him the ball. Here's the fun part - you might ask, why not just run the pick and roll directly with Jaylen and Ivan on one wing? Well, with all the Arizona defenders running around and trailing the play off the picks, there's a little bit of chaos going on, and players are off balance because they're chasing - and that is a good time to attack.

Often times fans will question "Why are we running ISO?" when Jaylen and Ty drive in against a defense. Let's be clear - there's often times when one of our wings will have a scrambling defense - and a one on one play against an off-balance defense isn't an ISO, but a way to get the ball into high leverage situations. Now (cue reef getting frustrated) when the wings HOLD the ball and THEN go into a drive, that's a less than ideal offensive flow because now you're driving against a set defense. But that's usually not a "play call" but instead a decision made by the guy with the ball.


So now, Ivan gets the ball to Sam on a dribble handoff, while setting a pick on his man, so you can see in this frame, the Arizona defender on Sam is behind Sam and Ivan is ready to turn and roll to the basket. Really nice pick and roll out of a flex motion. Ivan's defender is also caught in a little bit of a no man's land - if Ivan was a guy like Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan, this would be an easy lob dunk.


However, Ivan isn't a rim runner, but this is a really great way to get the ball into a high leverage situation (Ivan in the post) with the defender on his heels. Ivan jab steps for some space and rises for a nice little 10 foot jumper.

We all want Ivan to get the ball more. But, he's not big and strong enough to fight for post position every time down the floor - especially playing against the bigs of the Pac-12. I hope we can run some of this sort of action for him.

Here's the play real time:

(Sorry I've been trying to create the gif on this for the last thirty minutes, but it's not working)

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