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View Full Version : Discussion of fundamentals: Setting screens and the Pacers roster



thunderbird1245
09-16-2006, 11:06 AM
Hello all. Ive been away some this week and havent been able to post anything, but I have kept up reading everything you've written. Today I'd like to discuss this basic fundamental of the game, and while doing so make some observations about our current rosters strengths and weaknesses in this area. As always any additions and discussions are welcome.

OK, let's talk screening. The fundamentals of setting a screen are as follows:

1. In some way, there needs to be communication from a potential screener to a potential cutter that a screen is coming, so the potential cutter can start reading the defense and the situation. Some coaches like this to be done verbally (as I do), or some like it to be either done by eye contact only or by raising their fist high in the air. Regardless, thats an important early step.

2. In the best most solid screens, players should be taught to put their lead foot right between the defenders two feet. Because this puts the screeners knee into the groin area, this fundamental almost always causes the defender you are attempting to screen to back up or run wider to avoid this potential pain (as Im sure we all agree we'd do too :) ) This gives our cutter an additional step of room to clear and get away from the defense, and an extra second to catch and shoot potentially. This is especially key on BALLSCREENS....since the defender in these screens often doesnt have a good visual to see the screen coming.

3. Screen angles are very important....its often the determining factor in how successful the screen actually is. Your rules are when setting a DOWNSCREEN/ CROSSSCREEN, you want the screeners back to be angled to the BASKETBALL.......this is because you want the defender fighting over the screen to have to travel the most distance to get around it, and angling that way makes it harder for him to slide thru. When setting a BACKSCREEN, your screeners back should be angled toward THE RIM. Again this is so the defender has to travel the maximum distance to get back to his man, who is headed to the basket hopefully. When setting a FLARESCREEN (a screen coming from the outside of the court coming inward) you want your screener to angle himself to face THE BALL.....then to pivot slightly perhaps and face THE RIM if the cutter's move dictates it.
Often the success or failure of a given play rides on how effective the angle obtained was by the screener.

4. Ideally, screening should be taught that the screener himself should be the closer to the lane line than the cutter....in other words, with a downscreen/crossscreen, the cutter should be cutting toward the ball if he chooses to make a straight cut and go in a straight line. If it is a backscreen, the cutter is going toward the rim, but the screener is still the one closer to the rim and the lane line. Only in a flarescreen should the screener be coming from the sideline INWARD.

5. Screeners need to learn to "open up" wide after the cutter has passed them to a potential pass. By this I mean pivoting to face the ball after the screener has passed them. If timed correctly, this forces the cutters defender to go a bit wider around the screen helping the cutter have more time, and lets the screener now be a potential pass target, and get a positional advantage on the person guarding him. By rule, this is not a moving screen, although it has the same effect as one. When its called as a foul you have to be more conservative in using this move, which infuriates me at the officials calling the game that way.

6. Screeners need to "sprint to the screen". In other words, they need to hurry the hell up and screen. Too many players coast on route to the screen, enabling the defender of the cutter to be prepared for the oncoming screen, and forcing the ballhandler to wait too long against pressure to make a pass. Sometimes turnovers everyone complains about arent the ballhandlers fault, but the fault of a screen that took too long to develop.

Okay, now clearly areally good screen also needs a really good CUTTER, and Ill discuss the fundamentals of cutting in a future thread.....and it needs to a good PASSER too.....which I will hit in the same future thread I start.

But, for now lets talk the Pacers personnel. Do we have a really good screener on our roster? Do we have anyone who is really bad at it for some reason? And what do we need to do to get better at this, if anything?

I'm going to discuss just 2 of our players, and let the rest of you comment on my observations of them and talk about the others we now have. First, let me talk JO. In my view, this is an area he can improve his fundamental technique on. I find JO a "willing screener"...i.e. he seems to be OK with being asked to do it, and he puts forth good effort when he attempts it. I think, sadly, that he is probably our best and most consistent screener. He is excellent at opening himself to the ball and making himself wide, and he at times really plants the defender into the ground.....he just doesnt do it often enough. JO has 2 issues as a screener he needs improvement on, which is he takes too long to set them (sprinting to the screen), and he simply isnt asked to screen enough. Too often he gets anchored to the block as a post up option, and isnt used as the all around skilled big man I think he is. To me, his single biggest asset as a basketball player is his versatility, not just posting up. We need to use him much more as a screener and a cutter to make his game be as effective as he could be, in my opinion. Just having the fundamental of "screening low/ pivoting low", so he could explode out of a screen into a cut or strong post up, could really help our team and JO get alot better and more frequent opportunities. JO often screens too high with too little knee bend, and that slows him down, and causes him to lose his balance and positioning when bumped....he loses leverage too easily, which really hurts him after he screens initially as he loses the ability to maintain his ground, and causes him to take more punishment than he gives out.

I wonder sometimes that if JO had been better taught at a young age if he wouldnt be one of the best screeners in basketball. Its in this area where I think he mightve really benefitted from a year or 2 in college with the right coach. As it is, he is probably our best screener, although I'd rate him as only slightly above average currently.

The player who annoys me in a screen situation is Jeff Foster. If there is any player in the NBA who should be a good screener its Jeff, but he isn't good at all....I view him as a screener as well well below average. He tiptoes toward a screen and never establishes a strong low base. He hops around and doesnt stay strong and firm. His moving his feet causes him to stick his leg out and get offensive fouls. He sucks big time at getting a good screen angle....actually he almost always takes the exact wrong one, which causes him to have to move to even hit the man he is supposed to screen, which is how he gets fouls. He should be one of the best in the league, as he has the mobility to move and sprint to screens, and since he isnt a post scorer or a jump shooter.....since he can't screen either he is almost worthless as a half court offensive player.

Since Jeff is asked to screen alot, and yet struggles so badly at it, it can really set our offense back alot. Again, some of the complaints about Jackson taking bad shots are valid, but some of those that end up being bad shots wouldve been wide open jumpers off a catch and shoot if Foster's screens been better. He screens stiff legged with little or no knee bend, which gives him no fundamental explosion or ability to hold ground after the screen has been attempted. This means that after he screens, all he does or is able to do is simply turn around and watch what happens, rather than make another basketball move right after screening (Cutting out, opening up to post, going to screen again, etc etc)....Jeff sets a poor screen and then just watches the action until the shot goes up.

Setting screens on the ball, Jeff is a little better, but his lack of offensive skills set us back from a strategic standpoint. But in terms of screening for the ball, Jeff is better than away from the ball, because the angle of the screen is more self explanatory I guess. The play itself may not work due to his lack of skill in rolling to the hoop or facing up and hitting a jumper, but thats a different thing than not setting the screen itself well. In ballscreens, he is still below average but not nearly as bad at that as screens away from the ball.

My question with Jeff is, why does he struggle so badly with that? I dont have an answer....unless he just hasnt focused on it, or maybe just wasnt taught well at a young age. (He played 4 years of college, so that isnt an issue with him though) Maybe its just an extreme focus on rebounding (which he is great at) that causes him to struggle in this area...I dont know. His lack of improvement thru the years doesnt speak well either for him or for the Pacers coaching staff in terms of developing players strengths, and is one reason why I wish we had a big man coach to teach him some things....I dont view our big men as being particularly well taught since Mark Aguirre left our organization ( and he mostly taught offensive footwork in the post, not screening).

I have hopes for Harrison developing into a monster screener, and for our newcomers Daniels, Baston, along with Harrington (who I remember being good at it but I want to watch him play more to confirm my memory...im not willing to commit to that opinion yet), to really help us in this big weakness of our team offensively.

Bad screens mean people arent open when they catch a pass, making them hold the ball and make dribble moves to create space....making the game and ball movement slowdown, making our offense struggle and be painful to watch, and for fans to come on here and complain. I'll even make this statement: The Pacers have had 4 players in the last 12 yrs or so who I consider to be not just good but GREAT screeners: Derrick McKey, Antonio Davis, Haywood Workman (great screener...got underneath opposing big men well, sacrificed his body and took punishment) and maybe the best Pacer screener of all time Dale Davis. Without the great great baseline screens of Dale Davis, Im not sure Reggie is close to the player he turned out to be.....one of the great screeners of all time playing with one of the top 5 cutters in the league made for beautiful offense, didnt it?

When we watch the Pacers in a few weeks, with all the talk of a "new offense", lets all watch intently the fundamentals of what I typed above during screens, and see how effective of screeners our guys really are.....it will hopefully let us all learn something about how plays and players work off each other, and why things work and not work thru out a game. And it might change your opinions thru the league about who is an effective player, and who isnt.

As promised above, Ill talk about cutting fundamentals the next thread I start.

Additions and comments welcome, as always.

Tbird.

Jon Theodore
09-16-2006, 12:30 PM
email carlisle please

BillS
09-16-2006, 03:33 PM
Screens with holes in them and the "flop and roll" have been one of my pet peeves about our offense for a number of years.

Thanks for the post - great technical detail!

thunderbird1245
09-16-2006, 10:51 PM
Screens with holes in them and the "flop and roll" have been one of my pet peeves about our offense for a number of years.

Thanks for the post - great technical detail!



You are very welcome.

For those of you who read this thread and have good knowledge of some of our players who have joined us this summer, if you can please tell me how good our new acquisitions are as screeners.

Dallas fans, Im particularly interested in how good of a screener Marquis is, both in terms of willingness to do it and technique.

For our overseas friends, please if possible tell me the skill level of Baston is at screening, and if you remember, tell me what you think of Sarunas screen abilities. Sarunas wasnt asked to do this often last year at all, but I believe he will be asked to do it more often this season, and would like to know if he has any particular skills at it. His size really shouldnt be a detriment at being a good screener....John Stockton was one of the best screen setters of all time and he was similar in size to Sarunas.

For those who saw Atlanta and Harrington play alot last season, you probably saw Harrington play more often than I did. Tell me and everyone else if he is as quality of a screener as I remember, or if my memory is guilty of wishful thinking.

Peck
09-17-2006, 09:10 AM
Well needless to say I agree with 100% of our assessment of the current & past screeners from our team.

If you go back & read some of our old posts you can see that I have been trying to say for years that Jeff sucks at screening.

The only thing I disagree with you on is that I do not consider Jeff to be "great" at rebounding.

I consider him to be average, at best.

He does not come away with tough in traffic physical rebounds & IMO your description of him standing & watching the offensive play unfold was dead on & I think his lack of offense allows his defender to sag off of him leaving Jeff often times a clear path to the rebound.

Jeff is great at anticipating where the ball will go, but I will also say that whenever the other teams player focus on him they often are able to shut him off of the boards.

SoupIsGood
09-17-2006, 09:22 AM
Watching Dale set a screen was a thing of beauty.

thunderbird1245
09-17-2006, 11:24 AM
Well needless to say I agree with 100% of our assessment of the current & past screeners from our team.

If you go back & read some of our old posts you can see that I have been trying to say for years that Jeff sucks at screening.

The only thing I disagree with you on is that I do not consider Jeff to be "great" at rebounding.

I consider him to be average, at best.

He does not come away with tough in traffic physical rebounds & IMO your description of him standing & watching the offensive play unfold was dead on & I think his lack of offense allows his defender to sag off of him leaving Jeff often times a clear path to the rebound.

Jeff is great at anticipating where the ball will go, but I will also say that whenever the other teams player focus on him they often are able to shut him off of the boards.


Thank you for your insights...as you know I just joined this board a month ago or so, so I'm not familiar with everyone's opinions from the past about Foster, or anyone else either.

And, as far as Foster's rebounding goes, let me amend my statement slightly to say that instead of being a "great rebounder" as I said in the original post, let me change that to say he is a rebounder who often has "great results/rebounding stats".

I do agree that his total lack of offensive game causes him to be unguarded, and does help him alot get offensive rebounds that better players dont have opportunities to get. And after thinking about it, it's true that many of the defensive rebounds he gets arent contested....he doesnt always get the "tougher" rebounds in traffic, that is correct I think at least in part. He gets his rebounds by having a good sense of anticipation of where the ball might bounce and by simply working harder than most players do at that one particular skill of the game. I wish he worked as hard at other things like screening that could help us.

While we are on the subject of Foster, and I don't want to come across as a Jeff basher......the other thing he SHOULD be good at but is actually very bad at is making an outlet pass after a rebound. He seems to not be able to put the ball above his head and make an accurate 2 handed overhead outlet pass. For those of you who want to see the Pacers run more often, it's impossible to run of a defensive rebound if the rebounder can't start a break with a pass....it forces our point guard to have to run back and basically have Jeff hand him the ball before we can start ahead, which enables the defense to get back and set up.

Now, how much of that is Carlisle and how much of that is a weakness in Foster's game might be debated by some of you, but even pre RC I dont remember Foster making alot of outlet passes well, so I have a hard time believing its Carlisle's doing. And those of you who are nodding your head at what you just read, also think about what happens after a typical Foster defensive rebound....point guard runs back to him, Jeff hands him the ball, defense is back now....so RC has to "control" the offense by calling a set play, infuriating some of you who want to see us run more.....and most of you blame RC for that, but in my view I blame Foster (and not just him but alot of our bigs) for not having the skill level to be able to start a break even if you wanted them too.

Interestingly, the ability to make an accurate 2 handed overhead outlet pass with something on it is a very good indicator of younger kids potential in basketball at the youth level. The younger a kid can make that pass well, no matter what position he plays or how big he might be at the time, the more likely it is that that kid will develop into a really good basketball player.

JMO

sweabs
09-17-2006, 11:42 AM
Great, great thread. Again - thanks. I learn a lot from reading your posts.

thunderbird1245
09-17-2006, 07:12 PM
Great, great thread. Again - thanks. I learn a lot from reading your posts.


Thank you as always for the kind words...I hope others feel the same. I think its a good thing to be on here, read others opinions, and hopefully learn new things about the Pacers and the game.....it's why I love this forum.

I still am hoping for some in depth knowledge from others much more familiar with our new guys on our roster we signed or traded for, and for the draft picks we made this summer as well.

Flax
09-18-2006, 03:39 AM
Sarunas was good at screens. In Lithuanian NT they used to run quite sophisticated set of screens to get him open at 3 pt line (chrestomatic was Lithuania -USA final quarter in Athens). Was surprised Carlisle did not exploit his ability throughout the season. While he is good shooter, he is not athletic enough to creat the shot for himself every time, thus in Euro games he made lots of shots off the screens.

thunderbird1245
09-18-2006, 11:35 AM
Sarunas was good at screens. In Lithuanian NT they used to run quite sophisticated set of screens to get him open at 3 pt line (chrestomatic was Lithuania -USA final quarter in Athens). Was surprised Carlisle did not exploit his ability throughout the season. While he is good shooter, he is not athletic enough to creat the shot for himself every time, thus in Euro games he made lots of shots off the screens.


I think you misunderstood my question, and the point of the thread. I assume that Sarunas can cut off a screen, and Ill have more to say about that and his ability to be a passer in the next thread I post....BUT, I was wanting to know, if anyone knows or has an opinion, how he is at being the SCREENER HIMSELF. That was the unanswered question I had about him and some of our other new guys I was hoping someone could answer.

Bball
09-18-2006, 03:21 PM
You don't have a problem with the amount of time JO holds his pick? It seems to me he breaks his position too quickly and renders the screen less effective.

-Bball

Unclebuck
09-18-2006, 03:28 PM
One thing that drives me crazy is watching Tinsley run a pick and roll. He never waits for the big guy to set the screen, his timing is just horrible

thunderbird1245
09-18-2006, 09:35 PM
You don't have a problem with the amount of time JO holds his pick? It seems to me he breaks his position too quickly and renders the screen less effective.

-Bball


Well, I think thats a good question and observation. I'll have to remember to watch specifically what happens to JO early this season while he screens to better identify why he sometimes doesnt set as solid as a screen as he could....I think he is inconsistent on the level of force he delivers, and I agree he sometimes lets his screening get too soft.....but is the reason why that he breaks it off to go into his own move or cut? I don't know for sure, but I think its more of a question that he sets his screens too stiff legged and without a good enough center of gravity, therefore letting strong players essentially run "thru" his screen. That has always been my opinion....that in his case its not a matter of desire to set a screen, its just a matter of physics and technique.

I do freely admit that my opinion on him might be wrong, and since I dont have any Pacers games on DVD or tape right now, Ill just have to wait until the season starts to watch and see I guess.

Trying to remember Dale Davis screening, I not only remember him being built like a linebacker physically, but that he got a really good angle, and that he always screened with his knees bent and weight going forward slightly, so he couldnt be moved as easily, and so he could deliver the blow instead of take the force of the blow....its that detail more than any other that I think JO needs to master (and the rest of the Pacers too)

JMO

Flax
09-19-2006, 04:20 AM
I think you misunderstood my question, and the point of the thread. I assume that Sarunas can cut off a screen, and Ill have more to say about that and his ability to be a passer in the next thread I post....BUT, I was wanting to know, if anyone knows or has an opinion, how he is at being the SCREENER HIMSELF. That was the unanswered question I had about him and some of our other new guys I was hoping someone could answer.

Sorry, misunderstood that indeed. But oh no, never saw him setting the screen in any type of competition. Could be some spectacular view, though :D