Basketball 3-Up Secondary Break

By Dr. James Gels, From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
"Helping coaches coach better..."

Having a good quick secondary break is helpful in getting quick baskets in transition, before the defense can get set. The secondary break can also flow directly into your half-court offense. Use this secondary break after the opponent scores. Inbound the ball quickly and get it moving up the floor.

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In diagram A, O3 has inbounded the ball quickly to O1, and O1 speed dribbles up the court. Meanwhile, O5, O4, and O2 sprint up the court to the baseline. All three will flash up to just beyond the free-throw line extended, timing their cuts as O1 is just about to cross the half-court line. These should be good hard cuts as slow lazy cuts will not get them open for a pass from O1. Now we have three players high (similar to a Princeton set).

3-Up Secondary Break

From here we have a number of options as O1 can pass to O2 on the wing, or O5 at the high post. If nothing looks open, just flow into your usual half-court offense.

The diagrams below show a number of good options. You can create your own options maximizing the strengths and weaknesses of your players.

Options if the pass goes to the wing O2

Diagram B shows the first option when the pass goes to O2. O2 is your scorer and he can take his defender 1-on-1 to the hoop, since with all players high, there might not be a helpside defender. If O2 does not think he can beat his defender, he hesitates as O5 sets a ball-screen for a pick and roll (diagram C). O4 slides down for a kick-out pass and possible 3-point shot.

3-Up Secondary Break -  pass to the wing, dribble-drive 3-Up Secondary Break -  pass to the wing, ball-screen 3-Up Secondary Break -  pass to the wing, cutter option

Alternatively, O5 can screen for O4 (diagram D), and O4 looks for the pass and lay-up. Not shown here, O5 could seal the screened defender and basket cut himself after O4 clears through.

Instead, O2 could pass to O5 at the high post (diagram E), and O5 and O4 can play a 2-man hi-lo game with O4 posting up inside. Another option when O2 has the ball on the wing is for O5 to cut to the ball-side block and post up, looking for the pass from O2 (diagram F).

3-Up Secondary Break - hi-lo option 3-Up Secondary Break - post-up option 3-Up Secondary Break - post denial, hi-lo

When O5 dives to the block, O4 cuts to the high post for a possible pass from O2, and now O4 and O5 can once again work the hi-lo action, but this time with O5 posting up (diagram G). This works well if the X5 defender was full-fronting O - as the pass goes to O4 at the high post, O5 seals the X5 defender out and steps toward the ball for the pass and inside shot.

Diagram H shows another option after the pass goes to the wing O2. After passing, O1 cuts hard up the lane line, off the UCLA screen set by O5. A pass from O2 and and lay-up for O1 could result.

3-Up Secondary Break - UCLA cut 3-Up Secondary Break - wing ball-screen

If O1 does not get the pass, he clears to the opposite corner. O5 ball-screens for O2 (diagram I) and now we have the wing pick and roll situation again. This is good basic basketball - a UCLA cut followed by a pick and roll.

Options if the pass goes to the high post O5...

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The complete article also includes:
  • high post options
  • And a detailed Animation!

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