Drive Middle – NOT Baseline!

Driving baseline has become one of my pet coaching peeves. Unless there is a direct, uncontested path to the goal for a lay-up there is no good reason to do so. Yes, I know you can execute a “baseline drift” or run an “I-cut” with a post and both of these are tactics I have taught in the past. The diagram below on the left depicts a baseline drift and the diagram on the right depicts an I-Cut.

I abandoned these two tactics after Coach Doug Porter encouraged me to consider adopting his rule of Drive Middle – Not Baseline! After doing an assessment, it became pretty apparent to me the risks involved were not worth the possible gains.

Regardless of whether the defense is a zone, man-to-man or a variation of a trapping defense, they are all geared to stop any attack directly at the goal, particularly on the baseline. This is due in part to the fact most offenses have multiple tactics designed to enter the ball into the offensive ball side low post.

The defense is strong in these situations because of the time tested help and recover combined with a baseline sink, a tactic most teams will drill on a daily basis for most of the season. The diagram below on the left depicts help and recover with a sink covering the baseline drift. The diagram below on the right depicts coverage for an I-Cut.

These two tactics will work once or twice due to the element of surprise. Well coached defensive teams will quickly adjust and generate turnovers if these two concepts continue to be used.

The first diagram on the left below depicts all the options available by driving to the middle in one hypothetical situation. The following four diagrams show how the defense could defend each possible situation. Note, in the final diagram the offense does not have a direct shot attempt but does create another immediate middle penetration option.

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