Rick Barnes has been running Bob Mckilop’s motion offense from Davidson for the last few years. When I first noticed them running it, my first inclination was to be skeptical about how effective it could be at the highest level. Tennesse runs it extremely well and it is obvious that Rick Barnes teaches his players very well, and the use of the post up in the offense is my favorite part. It starts out of primary break, and seamlessly flows into the motion that is built to go against any type of defensive system. We will look first at the Primary Break, then look at how it builds into the motion and the differences between Davidson & Tennessee.

Primary Break

Tennessee does not run as potent a primary break like Davidson, but they do run a very good break that allows for good spacing and post up opportunity. The first goal of the break is for the point guard to attack and hit the rim run or big posting up after the rim run sealing in the post. This will force the defense to guard the post one on one since both guards in the corner are flattened out to the “dead corners.” If any of the corners help then it is a direct kick to the corners for an open 3 point shot, which typically does not happen. Next the point guard looks to continue his drive right to the rim and attacking the basket, with the big sealing and scoring layups. The last option would be to drive right at the nail and the trail man’s defender which frees up the big who is trailing the play to either get an open 3 point shot or trigger their motion offense with no ball pressure. Here is Tennesse running their Primary break vs Davidson running it.

Motion – Basic

The basic and most simple principles of the offense are to reverse the ball from side to side and then screen away for the players in the corner or cutting through. Starting with hitting the trail man, typically after an early probe from the point guard, and the trail man reversing the ball to the wing to the player filling up from the dead corner. After the ball is reversed, both the point guard and the trail man set a double stagger or “Strong” screen for the corner. As this action is going on, the rim run will clear to the ballside corner emptying the paint for cutters and slips. On every stagger screen the player coming off the screen looks to curl the first screen or reject the first screen going toward the rim. This is not an option they get often, but it does put pressure on the defense and forces communication from the defense.

After the first curl or reject of the stagger screen, the first guard setting the screen – in this case the point guard – will then come back off the screen from the first screener, in this case the trail man. This motion will continue with different reads and options, but that is the basic continuity that Tennesse will try to run for scores throughout the possession.

Motion – Reversal Denied

If Tennessee hits the trailer but cannot reverse the ball they go into what I call “Chicago” action, or a pindown into a dribble hand off. I have also seen them go into a backdoor cut into a dribble hand off – an action I call “Kansas” from Kansas 4 Game offense that has a backdoor cut into a dribble hand off. Either way, the option to have a big to guard dribble hand off causes the defense problems because teams usually never switch that action unless it is late in the shot clock.

Motion – Trailer Denied – Point

Hitting the trail man, reversing the ball and going into basic motion is a perfect world scenario. As we all know that never happens exactly how you want it to as a coach, so now we will look at when the trail man is denied the pass from the point guard. If the defense takes away this option, they will go into their point series, or a wide pindown for the guard opposite. This will flow back into their basic motion principles but allows for more screening options when the trailer is denied the pass.

High Low Action

Tennessee organically posts up more in this motion offense, and one of the things they will do is when the ball is centered to duck in and flash in the middle of the paint and look for post ups. Davidson looks for more 3’s and shots, and Tennessee has more of a post presence so that makes sense.

I really like both Davidson’s and Tennessee’s versions of McKilop’s motion offense and think that both of them can be uses at the high school level. Forcing the defense to move side to side with ball reversals as well as defend multiple actions every possession is the root of every good offense.

-Coach Pyper