Nebraska Wesleyan won the 2018 Divison 3 National Championship last year and are off to a hot start to this season. I want to give credit to Jordan Sperber (Twitter Bio) who did a fantastic breakdown on the Princeton Offense and how it fits with today’s modern basketball. He talked about how Nebraska Wesleyan runs a portion of the Princeton Offense – the “Point Series,” which involves some basic action into an elbow touch that triggers different reads. I went into a deep dive into how Nebraska Wesleyan runs their Point Series, and it is one of the best series I have come across this year. In this breakdown we will look at all of the options and reads in their Point Series as well as some counters they run for quick hitters to allow easier scores. In total we will look at the 10 main options as well as 5 counters that Nebraska Wesleyan has run this year, starting with their basic action to trigger their reads.
The basic action to start their Point series is going to be similar to how most “Chin” sets start – with a dribble hand off on the wing and a weakside exchange. After this exchange, the two options are for a ball reversal with a pass and the player with the ball then diving to trigger the 5 man to cut to the elbow, or the player who came up off the exchange is denied will go backdoor and dive – triggering the big to cut to the elbow. Once the big cuts to the elbow and receives the pass, the main action starts with either a short screen situation or a wide screen situation. The first option is to go screen right away for the wing that is closest to the guard who made the post entry pass. Off of this they have 3 main reads – backdoor/reject, curl, and fade, all based on how the defense is guarding or adjusting to their cuts.
Point – Backdoor/Reject Read
The first read is if the guard who is being screened for, his man is playing high or cheating off the screen not trying to get curled to the rim – triggering a backdoor or a reject of the screen read.
Point – Curl Read
The most common action is for the guard to tight curl off of the screen and dive to the rim. If they do not score off the curl, he will seal inside for a high low opportunity or a post up.
Point – Fade Read
After the guard rejects or curls the screen so many times the defense will start playing off a little or even sagging to prevent an easy score. This is when the fade read comes in to play, as the guard will fake going off the screen and fade to the wing for a 3 point shot.
Point – Get
Once the screens are covered this triggers a kickback to the guard who set the screen and then receives a ballscreen from the player who passed it back to him. The guard who cut through on any of the reads will then come off a baseline exit screen to keep the defense occupied or if they cheat allow an open catch and shoot 3.
Counters – Spin, Pressure & Sets
Point – Spin
Once the basic action has been covered Nebraska Wesleyan will go to different counters built in to their offense, starting with their “Spin” counter. This is a read when the elbow pass cannot be made in which the point guard will spin to the opposite wing and trigger the player on the wing to cut backdoor to the basket. They sometimes get the backdoor action, but usually a pass to the wing follows with the guards clearing to the corners and the player at the elbow going to the middle in “5 Out” formation.
After the basic spin action results in a 5 out formation, they will flow into a pindown into a dribble hand off with a weakside flare. I call this action “Chicago Flare” since that is my term for a pindown into a dribble hand off, then a flare screen follows. They run this action often behind whatever they are running as their base offense.
Against teams that deny or pressure them, Nebraska Wesleyan will have basic backdoor pressure releases, first with the elbow cut. If they elbow cut is denied or pressured that player can cut backdoor and they flow back into basic action which goes into a screen down for the same player to the elbow. If the cutters or players are denied any passes, the player at the elbow can isolate and take his player one on one since the space will be opened up with denials and not allowing easy passes and no help will be able to get there. After those options if there is no advantage then they will screen away and flow right into their chicago flare actions previously discussed, never allowing the defense to reset.
Set – Top ISO Screeners
At the end of the shot clock or a late clock situation and the defense has covered all options, they will go into a isolation at the top of the key in a 1-4 high look. As the player attacks in isolation, the outside players will screen the inside players to the corners, taking any help away and let the player go 1 on 1.
Set – Spin STS
A counter to their normal “Spin” action, this set sends the player on the wing backdoor into a cross screen for the player at the elbow, then comes off a downscreen from the player at the top of the key. Great quick hitter counter off their normal action to disguise what they are doing.
Set – Five Backdoor to Punch
If a team is pressuring, they sometimes go to their “Five” series, where they hit the big in the middle of the floor and cut off of it and go back into their normal Point action. In this set, they send guards through and then look to hit a wing for a backdoor cut that goes into a post up if the backdoor is not open.
Set – Five Elbow High Low
Out of their five series action, they run this to setup a high low opportunity for the player that initially cuts through. The defense is moving side to side and if any help comes off any player outside it will be an automatic skip pass to the corner for an open shot.