Newsletter #221

September 1, 2021

Today's Quote:   "Shot fakes and ball fakes work... it's amazing how many people don't use them." - Bo Ryan


Today's Theme:  Wisconsin Swing Offfense

Coach Bo Ryan's Swing offense is a 4-out patterned man-to-man offense that has continuity, and combines elements of the UCLA offense, the flex offense, and the triangle offense.  All five players are interchangeable - so it's "positionless".  Spacing, screening, cutting and good passing are keys, and all five players can post up inside.  The offense is deliberate, often with multiple passes and places value on each possession with high percentage inside shots, or free-throws.  Unlike some offenses that utilize the dribble-drive attack, the Swing offense is truly a "team-offense" that places a premium on good passing, screening and cutting.  There are a number of entries, counters, variations, and set plays, but here I'll just present the basic swing pattern.

Basic Swing Set - Numbering and Positions
Diagram A below shows the basic set, which is 4-out. O1 is the point guard, O3 is your best athlete and a good shooter, and O2 the off-guard is also a good shooter and ball-handler.  O4 and O5 are your "bigs", but remember that all players will post-up inside and all players will play on the perimeter.  O2 and O3 are at the free-throw line extended outside the arc, while O1 and O4 are balanced at the top.  O5 (and all post-players) will locate just above (not below) the block.

Notice that there is always a triangle (red lines) on the ball-side. Diagram B emphasizes that the first look every trip up the court is the initial pass inside to O5 posting up, as this can result in a quick, high-percentage basket (or free throws).

Arico close-out drill

Basic Swing Pattern - Continuity
Diagram C shows the initial movement with the pass to the wing O3.  Rule: all pass receivers on the perimeter will catch the ball in triple-threat position, and look into the post.  Here, O3 looks to O5 posting up inside.  Rule: The pass from the wing is a bounce-pass or overhead-pass, but never a lob-pass.

Rule: Whenever the ball is passed from the top to the wing, the weak-side players (here O4 and O2) exchange positions.  This is not a "lazy" exchange, but a hard basket-cut for each player, as O3 might be able to pass to either cutter for an easy basket.  This also occupies the helpside defenders.  But if the pass is not there, both cutters (O4 and O2) cut back outside, exchanging original positions.

UCLA Cut.  If O5 is not open, O5 cuts up to the elbow to back-screen for O1 (diagram D). O1 makes the UCLA basket-cut on either side of O5's back-screen... (Rule: cutters always take the path of least resistance... take what the defense gives you).  O3 looks to pass to O1 on the cut. If the pass is not there, O1 posts-up on the low block and O5 pops out on top (diagram E).

Next O3 passes back out to the top to O5 (diagram E).  This triggers a weak-side flare-screen with O4 back-screening for O2 (Rule: whenever the ball is passed from the wing to the top, the weak-side wing flare-screens).  On receiving the pass, O5 could be open for the outside jump-shot.  Otherwise, O5 looks to feed O1 in the low post.

Swing offense

Flex-cut. Next, the ball is reversed from O5 to O4 (diagram F).  This pass triggers a flex-cut.  O1 steps out and back-screens for O3.  O3 makes the flex-cut to the ball-side low block.  After screening for O3, O1 flashes to the middle.  O4 could pass to either O3 or O1 for a shot.  It's not unusual for O1 to get the pass and shot, as the defense oftentimes gets all caught up with the flex-cutter and forgets the screener.  In real time, this wing back-screen does not always look like a true flex-cut, as sometimes the back-screen is high on the wing, and the cutter may cut high.

O1 then passes to O3, and X2 jumps to the ball and closes-out on O3. O3 passes back to O1 (diagram C). The third defender X3 sprints out and closes-out on O1, and now we go live 3-on-3 until either a score or a defensive stop.

For the rest of the Swing pattern, see Bo Ryan's Wisconsin Swing Offense.

For the complete, detailed offense see the article in the Premium Members section.  It includes:

  • Basic Swing Set - Numbering and Positions
  • Basic Swing Pattern - Continuity
  • Entries into the Offense
  • Tandem Partners
  • Skip-Passing
  • Passing from the Post
  • Variations of the Swing... Dribble-Penetration and Kick, High-Screen Entry, Post Slide, Weak-side Wing Screen and Cut, Dribble-At, Back-cut
  • Set Plays... seven set plays for the Swing offense.
  • And a detailed Animation!


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