Perimeter Play Ideas by Steve Smiley

Perimeter Play Ideas by Steve Smiley

This is a compilation of Perimeter Play Ideas that we created about 6 years ago at NSU with Coach Meyer, and we’ve now modified here at Sheridan. A lot of good ideas for your guards & wings.


Perimeter Play Ideas

Defensive Ideas


–          To win championships, you must play great defense. The point guard sets the tone defensively because everybody will feed off his intensity (or lack of).


–          It is crucial for all perimeter players on the team to know their designated role on transition defense. This means that the players must also know their assigned roles for offensive rebounding (i.e. how many players are sent to the glass & how many are required to get back on defense).


–          We want our point guard to be able to guard full court, one on one. We want to typically force the opposing handler to his weak hand in the full court. Having a guard that can put good pressure on the opposing team’s best handler is an extremely valuable asset for our team defense. Our goal is to put constant pressure on the opposing team. The defender must gauge his quickness and the ball handler’s quickness to determine how much pressure he can apply (both in the full court and the half court).


–          “Pressure as much as possible without penetration or fouling.”


–          Our defensive wing players must be “On the Line, Up the Line” when they are playing help-side defense. Our general rule of thumb is that the further up the line (the line being the imaginary line that a pass would travel between the handler and the receiver) that the ball is, the further off the offensive player that our defensive wings must be. If the ball is being dribbled in the full court, we want our defensive wings many feet off of their men so that they can discourage penetration by the ball-handler. As the ball gets closer to the action, our defenders will adjust by getting closer to their men.


–          General rule of thumb: Your team’s best defender should always start. That sets the tone for a defensive mentality.


–          In the half-court, as a defender you are always in only 1 of 3 positions in our scheme:


o   On the ball


o   Denial (one pass away)


o   Help-side (2 or 3 passes away on perimeter, or post feed).


–          Intensity + Technique = Hustle Plays




Dribbling Ideas /  Live Ball Moves / Penetration Ideas


–   Drive vs. Dribble à We want our players to drive, but we don’t want them to dribble for no particular reason. We always ask our ball-handlers: “If the ball had eyes, would it be able to see when you had it?”


–          On all dribbling drills (and as a general rule of thumb): “Start slow, get a rhythm, go fast enough to make a mistake”


–          Versus pressure in the full court, we teach our players to attack the defense at 45-degree angles. Very hard to guard.


–          A good player needs no more than 1 or 2 dribbles to get from the wing to the rim. In all of our breakdown drills, we don’t allow our players to use more than 2 dribbles to get to the rim, unless they are using a hesitation move, back dribble, etc.


–          We want our players to drive in straight lines to the rim. We don’t want them veering out. Our goal is to make contact with the defense (make contact with the man guarding you and contact with the 2nd line of defense). We want to put our shoulder into the defensive man’s hip on all drives (put a body on first).


–          We want 60% of the weight on the permanent pivot foot on all moves (reduces traveling)


–          Play against your opponent’s momentum à Drive the front hand


–          We want to go from a medium center of gravity to a low center of gravity


–          “Be ball quick” and have eyes on the rim for vision


–          Use the dribble to get out of trouble, not into trouble


–          Never pick up your dribble without a pass or a shot


–          The back dribble is the most important dribble in the game of basketball, but it is also probably the most rarely used, and it may be the most difficult dribble to master. The key points for the back dribble are:


o   To keep eyes on the rim


o   Have an “arm-bar” with the weak hand to shield the defense.


o   Point the back toe, dribble near or behind that toe, and get out of trouble as fast as possible.


o   The back dribble is a great time to get the defense attacking you à perfect opportunity to use a hesitation move to the rim (in the half court).


–          The middle drive is the drive of preference in our offensive system. We believe that getting middle drives forces defensive help from defenders above the drive (great opportunity for crack-backs to 3 or dives to the rim) and from defenders (typically post men) below the drive (opportunity for bounce passes to our post men for easy lay-ups).


–          The only reasons to dribble are:


o   To advance the ball up the floor


o   To improve passing angles (especially feeding the post)


o   To get out of trouble


o   To get to the rim


–          Great players typically only have 2 moves with the dribble; the Go-To move, and the Counter move.


o   The Go-To Move is the move everybody in the gym knows you’re going to make, and they still can’t guard you.


o   The Counter Move is the move that you make when the defense is trying to take away your Go-To Move at all costs.


o   Example: Go-To Move is the left-to-right crossover move, and the Counter Move is the In-n-Out (Fake Crossover) with the left hand. It works best if the Go-To & Counter Moves compliment each other.


–          When driving baseline, players have to know what their options are if they can’t get all the way to the rim. In our Drive & Space scheme, on any baseline penetration, the weakside wing will “drift” to the corner, the strong-side guard will “crack-back” behind the penetration, we will have a low-post ready for a feed, and we will have one more shooter in the opposite guard / wing spot looking for the 3-point shot.


–          We allow our players to use either a “step-plant” or a “quick-stop” to go into the pull-up game. We typically teach and encourage player’s to use the 2-footed quick-stop, because it is easier to teach and it allows our player to keep his permanent pivot foot on passes in traffic, but we also will allow a step-plant if the player can prove to us that they are comfortable with that move. The step-plant does have benefits, most notably that it is “quicker” and it creates more separation between the offense and defense.


–          When a player penetrates and gets too deep into the lane to shoot a traditional pull-up, we teach the player to shoot a one-handed floater over the defender (we also have the shooter use the strong hand on the floater).




Passing& Receiving  Ideas


–          There aren’t many great passers anymore. Most perimeter players are able to dribble, and some can shoot, but not many can pass. It is quickly becoming a lost art.


–          Great passing teams are happy teams


–          Players must understand who they are passing to and the current situation. It does no good to throw a pass to a great 3-point shooter inside the 3-point arc, and it does no good to pass to a post man that can’t dribble on the break when he will have to put the ball on the floor to get to the rim.


–          The bounce pass is used in tight quarters (penetrating guard using the bounce pass to the post) and can be used on cuts to the rim (example: back cut on the wing). We don’t want any bounce passes on the perimeter, and a general rule of thumb is no bounce passes anytime the player is moving away from the basket.


–          We like to use the chest pass in the open court (transition) or when our guards are spaced on the perimeter (much quicker than the one-handed flick pass). The legs must be used for velocity.


–          We tell our players that if they can’t successfully make solid, catchable passes to the post, they can’t play. We work on post feeds a lot. On the baseline post feed, we want our players to dribble down to get the proper angle, and then we teach our players to step across with the inside foot to shield the pass from their defender (one of the only times we violate our concept of permanent pivot foot).


–          On all bounce passes (including post feeds), we want the ball to hit 2/3 of the distance from the passer to the receiver. We also want the passer to turn the wrist from inwards to outwards so that the ball digs into the floor and spins into the receiver.


–          On all catches, we want the following: “Ball in the Air, Feet in the Air” so that we can catch with two feet and then use our permanent pivot foot.


–          On all catches, we want the receiver to meet the ball (shorten the pass). Most passes are intercepted when the receiver doesn’t shorten the pass, allowing the defense to shoot through the passing lane.


–          “Every pass is a shot” à Perimeters must believe that their pass will lead to the success or failure of the shot. A good pass in the shooting pocket will lead to a rhythm shot, whereas a pass too low or too high will get the shooter out of his rhythm, and may take the shot opportunity away (defense has time to react).




Shooting Ideas


–          Shooting = Keep it straight, Get it up, Hold a one-second high follow-thru, and land 6” closer to the rim.


–          “Top of the shot, top of the board”


–          “Game shots, game spots, game speeds”


–          You’re always the most open when you first catch the ball


–          Shooting = Focus, feel, follow-thru, feedback


–          You don’t shoot fast, you get ready to shoot fast (shot preparation).


–          We want to get our feet ahead of our hands on all shots à We must have a solid base to shoot from.


–          Great shooters are always in demand because they can stretch the defense.


–          On all missed shots in practice, our players must yell either “Keep it straight” when they miss to the side, or “Back Half” when their shot is short.


–          Good shooters don’t miss to the side; great shooters don’t miss short or to the side. They only miss long off of the back half.


–          We want our players to “frame” the shot with their balance hand. After each shot, the player’s shooting hand follow-through should visually be above the top of the back board.


–          “Top of the shot, top of the board” is the minimum arc that we want our players to have.


–          We encourage our players to use The Gun to get a lot of quality reps in a short amount of time, or a toss back.


–          We encourage our players to use The Noah Machine to work on consistency of their arc. The Noah is a great tool (audio & visual) for players to see & hear the angle of their shot arc, and to work on becoming more consistent. Since using The Noah, we’ve seen some of our players improve a lot.




Rebounding Ideas


–          The point guard should be one of the team’s best defensive rebounders (typically the point guard won’t have to block anybody out because his man is back on defense). Conversely, the point guard should get no offensive rebounds. Any offensive rebound that a point guard does get is fool’s gold, and is a far worse situation than if the player never got a rebound.


–          We want our small forward, or “3-man”, to be a great offensive rebounder. We send three to the glass, and we expect our 3-man to always hit the glass, unless he is shooting a perimeter shot (which is when our 2-man will go to the glass). Great rebounding perimeters are hard to find.


–          The shooting guard (2) and small forward (3) must recognize when the point guard is penetrating to the rim so that at least one of the players (depending on your team’s offensive rebounding principles) gets back on defense to protect the hoop.


–          “Every shot is a pass” mentality à Assume all shots will be missed.




Reading Screens Ideas


–          Great perimeter players use screens to their advantage. Some players can’t get a shot off of the dribble, but are extremely hard to guard because they are active and know how to use screens to get open shots. We try to teach our players how to use screens to their advantage.


–          In general, we teach our player’s to react to what the defense is giving us. For example, if a down screen is set and the defender chases us, we will automatically curl. Conversely, if the defender goes ball-side to cheat the screen, we teach our player’s to fade.


–          We want our player’s to Wait, Read the Defense, and then use a Change of Pace to make the appropriate cut. We want to use deception in our game, but once we commit to a cut, we must be explosive to beat the defense. There can be no separation between screener & cutter to allow the defense through. The cutter must put his shoulder on the screener’s hip. Before receiving the pass, the cutter must show hand targets.


–          The 4 types of cuts off of a basic down-screen are:


o   Straight Cut


o   Curl Cut


o   Fade Cut


o   Back Cut


o   ***Most players can only do 1 or 2 cuts successfully. For example, great shooters aren’t very good at curling, and great penetrators aren’t very good at fading for the open shot. Only the most complete, multi-dimensional players can successfully use all 4 cuts to put themselves in a position to score.


Moving Without the Basketball Ideas


–          90% of the game is played without the ball. The great players know how to move without the ball.


–          “You don’t shoot quick, you get ready to shoot quick” = Must be great at moving without the ball and in a position to score when you receive the pass


–          “Square in the air” à Square your body in the air (hop off of the inside foot) to be ready to shoot on the catch


–          Learn how to play at different speeds. We want the following to improve deception:


o   Change of speed


o   Change of direction




Ball Screens Ideas


–          There are many ways to guard a ball screen, and many ways to offensively use a ball screen, but as a general rule of thumb, we want the ball-handler to use at least 2 dribbles coming off of the screen with the intent to score. Anything less than 2 dribbles will not stretch the defense enough to create mismatches and scoring opportunities.


–          It is very important to read how the defense is guarding the ball screen, and then use a change of pace to explode off of the screen. There must be deception.


–          We want to get to the level of the screen to have proper angles and spacing.


–          If the ball-handler notices the defense look for the ball-screen when it is called by the defender guarding the screen, that is a great time to “refuse” the screen à Example would be a ball screen on the wing – defense calls for help and defender on ball turns head, ball-handler could cross over to the baseline to refuse the screen and attack the rim.


–          As a general rule of thumb, if the ball-handler can occupy the screener’s defender and the screener rolls to the rim, a bounce pass must be used. The chest pass or lob will typically get deflected.


–          On all ball screens, the handler must recognize who is setting the screen, and what that player prefers to do; i.e. is the screener a post man that is going to roll to the rim, or a shooter that is going to pick and pop to 3?




Transition Game Ideas


–          In the primary 2v1 break, we teach our ball-handling guard that they must attack the defense with the intent to score. They only make the pass to the receiver when the defense fully commits to their penetration.


–          In the 2v1 break, we want our offensive players to split the floor into 1/3’s, approximately one yard outside of the free throw lane. As they get closer to the hoop, they will progressively get closer to each other. We want the ball in the inside hand of the ball-handler (better angle to make the bounce pass to the finisher).


–          In the 3v2 break, we want our ball-handler to go towards our best shooter and away from our best finisher at the rim (ball-handler must immediately recognize the strength of his teammates). The ball-handler must attack the first line of defense and occupy that defender. At that point in time, the defense must make a decision to guard the hoop or cheat to guard the best shooter. If the bottom defender protects the hoop, the shooter will have an open look, and if the bottom defender cheats to guard the shooter, the finisher will have an open look at the rim. The key is to occupy the top defender and be able to make a quick read on the bottom defender (requires a point guard with a high skill level).


–          We want our point guard to receive the outlet as deep as safely possible. On the catch, we want his body opened up to the middle of the floor, or if he has to catch facing the opposing basket, we want him to pivot and turn to the middle of the floor. We prefer the catch to be wide (near the sidelines) so that the angle is good to make the pitch-ahead pass to the near-side wing, or the point-to-post “lob” pass to a post running to the rim. If the guard catches in the middle of the floor, there is typically a lot of traffic and passing angles diminish.


–          We want our wings (2’s & 3’s) to run the wings as wide as possible. In fact, in practice we have them run near the sideline or even run out of bounds to emphasize running wide. Once the rebound is secured, they must immediately begin to sprint the lane.


–          Point guards are looking to pitch ahead to the near side wing, go point-to-post to the streaking post man (typically must pass before the ball gets to the half court line), or look for the diagonal pass to the opposite wing (aim the pass to the far corner).


–          Point guards can also “cross main street” by using the 4-man who is trailing as a moving screen. This is a great way to get a quick ball reversal, which forces the defense to rotate.


–          If the point guard has no options to pass the ball ahead to a teammate, we want our point guards to look to penetrate in secondary transition. We tell our point guards to “crack the shell” of the defense. It is crucial that the near side wing is wide & low enough, and that the trailer stays well behind the 3-point line to space the floor and discourage help-side defense. On the penetration, the low-post must drop into an alley near or behind the hoop to give the guard room to get to the rim or passing angles on any post help.


–          If the point guard is a great shooter, we work on the pull-up 3 in transition, especially in a 2v1 or 3v2 setting. This shot is very difficult to make, but it is almost impossible to defend, without giving up an easy lay-up (especially in 2v1).

Follow Coach Smiley on Twitter!!!

smileyThe 2014-15 season marked the first season for Steve Smiley as an assistant coach at Weber State. He joined the Wildcat program in August 2014.

Smiley came to Weber State after spending the six years as the head coach at Sheridan College, a national junior college powerhouse in Sheridan, Wyo. In the six years with the Generals, Smiley posted a 153-43 (.780) overall record and led Sheridan to four North Sub-Region 9 titles and two runner-up finishes. His teams also advanced to the Region 9 Final Four four times and appeared in two championship games. Smiley was twice named the North Region Coach of the Year.

During his time at Sheridan, Smiley had 21 players sign to play NCAA Division I basketball and a total of 38 players moved on to the four-year level. He coached two players who earned NJCAA All-American honors and nine players who earned All-Region honors. Several players wen on to play professional basketball across the world.

In addition to head coach, Smiley also worked as the Athletics Director at Sheridan.

Prior to his time at Sheridan, Smiley spent two seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., where he worked under the winningest coach in NCAA history, Don Meyer. During his time at NSU, the Wolves posted a 50-12 record. Smiley was also the head assistant coach at Black Hills State University during the 2005-06 season.

A native of Denver, Smiley graduated from Northern State in 2004. He was a three-year starter with the Wolves and led the Northern Sun league in assists for three straight seasons. He ranks second in NSU history in career assists with 537. As a senior he was named the NSIC Defensive Player of the Year and the league tournament MVP. He helped lead the team to a 24-7 record and a trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament.

He played high school basketball at Pomona High School in Arvada, Colo, where he was a four-year starter and earned All-State honors twice. He also led the state of Colorado in assists during his junior season.

Smiley and his wife Nikki have two children, Madden and Avery.

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