OFF BALL SCREENS

ray lutz

During the past decade, the preference for high school offenses has been to screen “on ball.” The idea being that they could then incorporate the roll to the basket by the screener. This “pic and roll” play is often a very effective offensive maneuver and is difficult to defense.

Defenses then began to “jump” or “hedge” the screen, making it difficult for the ball handler, who the screen had been set for, to either drive to the basket and to pass to the screener on his/her the roll to the bucket.

In the last few seasons, the offensive trend has been to screen “off ball” or away from the ball. Now, rather than trying to “free up’ the ball handler, the strategy is to “free up’ a cutter who slices to the basket to receive a pass.

The theory is that “off ball” defenders and “off ball” officials are not as diligent as are “on ball” defenders and officials.

Additionally, offensive strategists believe that officials don’t hold “off ball” screens to the same standards as they do “on ball” screens.

The illegal screen set for a cutter doesn’t have to be egregious in order to get the cutter free. Also, the “off ball” screen is often a screen from behind the defender which adds another level of scrutiny to adjudicating the play sequence.

The video clip below is an excellent example of a screen being set illegally off the ball which helps to free up a cutter who score on the play. It appears to me that the screener is moving at the time of contact and the screen is from behind so the screener also does not give time and distance to the defender which is required when screening a moving defender.

The play by play commentator thought the “pick” was “beautiful.” I though it was illegal.

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