Contributed by Brett Ayers. Email the author at email@example.com
I hear a lot of coaches, gurus and the like talk to what they teach their big men in terms of individual post moves, but I rarely hear and or see on the court any sense of spacing and or continuity rules that have been given to the big men. Often it seems that when guards drive and or when they dump the ball down in side there seems to be some sense of dis-jointedness in regards to either the big guys being unaware of where their interior mate might be and or simply knowing where they are on the court. You see a lot of coaches who simply assume they guys they have and or are getting in at the college level know these things all ready and you can plainly see that a lot of them do not. Descent, good and great post play to me can be broken down in to three definative categories that lead up to the finalization that comes with the actual post move and scoring of the basektball. These three things are:
1. Spacing of post man and or men
2. Block Placement and re-posting
3. Reading of your defender
1. Spacing of post man and or men- One of the things in the modern game that has seemingly dissapeared from the college game is obvious continuity and understanding of spacing by the big men. Sometimes, however, this is not their fault but instead is the fault of the perimeter players. Many teams will utilize two post players, which certainly can still be done even in this age of larger, more athletic players. But in doing this you need to first make you guards aware of where each of the post men you have should and should not recieve the ball. I think far to many coaches assume their players will somehow instinctively know this when in fact some of their guards will go the whole year feeding their post men in spots they should not be giving them the ball and often make them make moves and or passes they are not capable of making from these spots. Far to often many of the coaches and announcers will say that and or think the big men should have done this or that but when you look at the whole play you need to take it back to its inception which starts with a pass, usually, from the perimeter. First thing that should be asked is can the big man who is receiving that pass do something constructive with the ball there. If the answer is no then it is the perimeter player who gave him the ball there that is at fault for anything negative that comes from this.
In giving your post men instructions on spacing I think it is paramount that you get them to communicate. When a guy breaks low from the high post and or perimeter area he should call out "going low" or just "low". This lets the other post know where he is going and will be. It also lets him know that he might want to think about getting the high post within the next pass or two. I also think that when a post man goes low it is also a good idea to send your other post man either out to the wing area or along the baseline out off the block to become a screener. What this does is it occupies that post players man while the other post player tries to get position on his man.
When a post player breaks low the other post player should keep an eye on what happens. One of the things Carlos Boozer did so very well for Duke last year was he posted for the next pass and or drive. In doing this his defender would often think he had Carlos guarded by being in front of him but when the ball was driven to the high post or down the opposite side, Boozer would then have his man sealed on his butt and be ready to either get the mini lob from the high post and or the dump off passing from the driving guard. Boozer also created wide lanes down the middle with little or no help available because he had his man sealed on that large posterior of his.
In working on post spacing, if you are going to use two post men, it is important that you work them in practice dummy first just as you would your perimeter players. Let the dinosaurs get used to eachother's movements and passing to eachother. Never just assume they are compatible. Also, make them talk to eachother. Give them rules. One guy sets picks and roles back to the high post while the other battles blockk to block then they can interchange or screen for eachother bringing the guy who was down low out high and vice-aversa. When the ball does low if the other post man is at the high post he should immediately dive if he feels his partner has no shot.
2. Block placement and or reposting- I have over the years noticed that you still get a lot of post men who are posting up on the block in the traditional manner of putting their high foot on the block and having the rest of their body below the block when trying to gain post position. I am very adamantly against teaching this. With the size of today's players when a player finally fights his way to post position he will be a bit lower than the original place he tried to post up at and when he gets the ball and attempts to turn baseline he has no angle on the bank shot any longer and also will often be dissoriented as to where he is in relation to the basket.
I think having your big men go low or go high to come back and look to post up with their low foot on the low block is optimal. First off with the usual bumping and grinding they will have to do in getting there they often end up with their lower foot below the low block anyhow. Secondly is that when they get the ball given to them there and try to turn baseline they will have the bank shot from that 5 to 7 foot range there for them. If they read and get the drop step they will not be right under the basket trying to shoot backwards but instead will be able to get wide and stick their arses out getting that space between themselves and their defenders. It opens up all of the reverse pivot Sikma moves. Also, if the post man does get fronted and he posts for the next pass to the high post area and seals with his arse and the ball gets to the high post area when the high post man tries to make that pass down to him he will have a lot better angle and more room with which to work with in making that pass instead of having to lace a perfect pass or lob in there hoping not to throw it to hard and hit the backboard.
One of the next very important things is the re-post. This is something that seems to have dissapeared amongst many post men and I suppose some of that has to do with the perimeter orientation of the game since the adaptation of the three point line. They figure they will not see the ball again. But, the great post men of every generation with the exception of Shaq have understood the necessity of knowing when you are not in the most desirable of post up positions and need to give that ball back out and repost and or go across the lane or up high then low to repost.
3. Reading your defender on the post once you receive the ball- Another thing that has seemingly gone away. Some of it can be accredited to the increased physicality of the game but other aspects of this can be accredited to the lack of work this gets in practice in individual breakdown drills.
If I had a dime for every time during the season I see guys at all levels of the game get the ball down low and make the absolutely incorrect read of their defender I would be a wealthy, wealthy man. Guys will get the ball and completely make their minds up prior to receiving it as to what they are going to do with the ball. One of the reasons, as I see it, that this has become a trend has been that post play has gone from being something that was primarily done out of a players legs and posterior to something that is generated and read out of the upper body. A classic example of this for me would be Mr. Baxter from Maryland. IU actually figured this out either on purpose and or accidently during the NC game and LB threw up two or three shot that nearly sailed all the way over the rim. IU's guys did not bang on him coming over the top of that bottom flex pick and he was not aware of where they were or where he was and when he caught the ball he went up with one motion and when there was not contact made on him he threw the shot up strong. His post up game was predicated upon getting contact on his upper body. When it was not there he was very dissoreinted and thrown off his game.
Once a ball is gotten inside around the block or mid-block area, the first thing a post man should do is sit down and get a good wide base. In doing this his arse will naturally stick out a bit clearing some space between he and his man unless his guy just totally backs off. It also will slow a big man down half a second and allow him to gain his bearings and gain some sense of where his teammates are. He will also be much more explosive and effective when he does make his move. A lot of big guys these days catch the ball straight up and down then try to get low to make their move often taking to long, getting double teamed and putting themselves off balance in the process.
In dropping their arses they will usually make immediate contact with their defender thus gainging a read on where they are positioned and then of course able to make a move accordingly. They will have better balance, travel less and have more scoring and assist opportunities made available to them.