For teams to be consistently efficient offensively, they must be taught and coached to execute their half-court offense. We could certainly debate the advantages and disadvantages of the various half-court offensive approaches from motion to continuity to quicker hitters and beyond but we will skip that instead just to stress the need to be good in the half-court.
We believe to be at your best in half-court offense that you must have a sound system that best fits your personnel. You need to attack with your strengths and work to steer clear of your deficiencies. We believe that you must break it down at times and teach the execution of the parts as well as practice it in a whole part method.
Another important aspect of good offensive play is your plan for "flowing" into you half-court stuff. Do you have a method of flowing into half-court offense out of your fast break? Out of your press offense? Out of your special situations? Do you practice flowing? We are big believers in that all half-court offense in the whole method should be concluded with at least one conversion. This allows the work you need to execute how you will flow as well as work on your transition defense.
And you must emphasize to your team the importance of half-court offensive execution. Do you chart your half-court offense? Or do you just chart your offense overall? Of course you can look at the stat sheet after a game and see that you shot 46% from the floor, shot 18 free throws and turned it over 14 times. But what was your stat line in just half-court offense? If you eliminated transition, press offense and special situations then what did your team shoot from the floor? How many free throws? How many turnovers?
Be careful not to fall into a lull by just reading overall stats. You might play a team that is poor in transition so your stats get padded by your fast break but your half-court offense was not efficient.
Certainly there are coaches out there with the philosophy that "we are fast break team" and they well may be excellent in transition. But here are some numbers to think about that come from a book by Bob Liguori titled "Building A Championship Offense." I'll preface these numbers by letting you know the book is more than a decade old so the numbers he gives could be outdated -- but I'll follow that up with my thoughts afterwards. In Bob's book he found the following:
Regardless of your desire to run, remember 3 keys:
1. Seventy-five percent of all field goals come in half-court situations
2. The better your opponent, the lesser number of transition opportunities.
3. Transition baskets decrease on the road.
I think those numbers hold close today. I also strongly believe that those numbers hold true in post-season basketball. Players may be a little more hesitent to run -- at least early in a play-off game -- not wanting to make mistakes. As you advance in the playoffs, you will obviously play better teams and part of them being better will most always include good transition defense. Even coaches tend to get a little more conservative in the post-season.
As you go through the season, and you are scouting or just watching a game on television, pay attention to some of these trends. After reading Bob's book, I've found that in the majority of most "big games" (games played by two excellent teams), scoring is almost always down. Of course part of this is because of good defensive play...but that again goes to the need to execute in the half-court against good defensive teams.
If you want to be consistently effective in offense...if you want to advance in post-season play...work daily to become a good half-court offensive team.
Part II: What Are The Elements of Good Half-Court Offense