A large part of Michigan’s Half Court Offense is the Wide Pindown, or a down screen for a guard with the floor being spread. This action for Michigan has been very successful in large part because of great shooters to keep the floor spaced and big men who screen well. This set is extremely effective in large part because John Beilein has recruited great shooters to Michigan, allowing space for them to come off of the down screen. Flowing directly from early offense or from any entry, this action can be run directly out of their half court motion, and has multiple options. Because it is so simple, it is not difficult to teach and allows players to read the defense and make a play. Starting off with a pass to the wing the point guard clears to ballside corner, the opposite guard fakes a cut and moves to the ball. After the 2 guard catches the ball, the big man turns and finds the guard in the corner’s man and sets a pindown screen. This is considered a “Wide” pindown because of the angle and spacing of the screen. Guards who are using the screen have options they can use when trying to get open to create space to score. The most common action to stop this action is the defender playing on the high side, forcing the guard to “reject” the pindown screen and cut toward the rim. To counter this action, Michigan has a couple of options. First, they can rescreen for the guard in which the guard would fake a cut to the basket and then come off another screen from the big looking for a shot. Second, John Beilein can call counters out of timeouts or special situations that work well against teams that deny often. This is especially effective against a man to man pressure defense like Michigan State, as they like to “slip” or have the big leak out of the screen to the rim for a layup. Third, if the pindown is successful but the guard does not have a shot this flows into a reversal of the ball followed by a flare screen/rescreen action to get the same guard open again. Lastly, they flow into their “Hook” ballscreen series that has multiple options off it as well. The guard rejects the screen and the big man opens up to set a ballscreen on the wing for the guard with the ball. Off of this, Michigan has options for a ballscreen, hand off at the elbow and an Isolation set for a scoring big (often ran for Mitch McGary). This is a patterned motion, so obviously drilling in practice of this specific motion is necessary. The guard coming off of the pindown screen must be able to read the defense and react accordingly, since Beilein recruits and teaches the game of basketball at the highest level this is typical of a Michigan guard. Big men must be able to read how the guard is being played and be able to screen or rescreen accordingly, as well as open up and play the 2-Man game with the guard in the “Hook” series. The reads off of the pindown screen for the guard are:
-The guard can cut straight off of the screen after setting his man up for a catch and shot.
-If the guard’s defender is trailing him he can curl into the lane to get a better shooting angle.
-Guard’s man overplays into the middle of the ball and screen he can fade or cut to the corner, leaving his man on the high side.
-The guard can reject the screen, this is the most common action when his defender is playing over the top forcing him baseline off of the screen.
The biggest advantage John Belein has is the ability to have 4 shooters and scorers on the floor at any given time, allowing spacing to be key. The biggest difference between the NBA and NCAA style of play is typically spacing, with the best NCAA offenses always having great space. Almost every single college team you see play will run pindowns and down screens to open up space for shooters, but none will do it with spacing that Michigan has. On each pindown screen, the entire floor is open on that side, allowing the guard to work with alot of space and for players like Nik Stauskas or Zak Irvin, this allows freedom to score easier.