Using curl cuts in your offense is a great way to put pressure on the rim without the use of the dribble.
In an earlier post I wrote called, The Rim is King, I zeroed in on a quote from Ben Falk that stated, "The Rim is King. The whole thing is still figuring out how to get shots at the rim." In today's basketball world most coaches prefer to create these opportunities at the rim through ball screens and dribble-drive attacks. The expanded use of shot clocks, the influence of the NBA, and the simplicity of those actions have all contributed to its popularity. One unique thing about coaching at the high school level is that the skill sets of teams can vary wildly from year to year. For teams that do not have dynamic ball handlers who can adeptly make decisions off the ball screen or break down their man off the dribble, you may have to find other ways to create those shots at the rim.
One option that coaches in that situation have is to use the combination of off-the-ball screening and Curl Cuts to create those same high-value shots. Those teams whose skill set is better suited for this style can now rely on their strengths to put pressure on the rim. Having employed both strategies I can say that there is definately a bit more of a learning curve in learning to set and read screens appropriately. If we are willing to put the practice time into developing the ability to read those screens we will be able to allow our Cutters to attack the rim with the Curl Cut, but we can provide Second Cutting opportunties for our screeners as well. In this post, we are going to dig into a few ways that you can Curl Cuts in your offense as a way to create scores at the rim.
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The Single Down Screen -
The Single Down Screen is one of the most common screening actions and can provide the cutter with a simple read to get a hard cut at the rim. In some offensive systems this Curl Cut can be predetermined. Some Flex Offenses and Bob McKillop's offense at Davidson both employ the forced curl within their systems. When we incorporated the Single Down Screen within our Motion Offense we taught it as a true read for the cutter.
Single Down Screen -
The read for a Single Down Screen is a fairly simple one:
If he trails then you curl.
Teaching Points for Cutters:
We really tried to drive home two teaching points that might help the cutters get the opportunity to curl to the rim:
Make Contact with your defender.
Don't Rush the Cut
By making contact with the defender we can keep him close to us and hopefully drag him over the screen. If the cutter rushes into his cut the defense will likely go under the screen and take away the curl as an option.
Teaching Points for Screeners:
The one big teaching point for the screener is to make sure that they are attempting to screen the back leg of the defender. The better the screener's angle is the more likely he is to get the defender to go over the top of the screen and trail the cut.
The Staggered Down Screen -
Using a Staggered Down Screen is a really interesting way to create opportunities to Curl for your cutters. This screening action actually provides two different options to curl to the rim and also provides a back door cut which essentially serves as a Curl Cut. As I mentioned in the last section there are certainly offensive systems that force their cutters to curl the first screen in the stagger but similar to our approach to the Single Down Screen we wanted the cutter to read this option.
Staggered Down Screens -
During the 2019-20 season we employed the use of the staggered screen as part of our Motion Strong Action. Similar to the Single Down Screen the Curl was an option for the cutter.
Our teaching point for the Curl Cut off the Staggered Screen was the same as the Single Down Screen:
If he trails then you Curl.
For us, the curl cut was generally only going to be made off of the second screen. If the defense was not switching and simply allowing the defender to trail the screens then our cutter should have been looking to curl hard to the rim off the second screen.
Back Door Cut Option:
Another option that Cutters would have coming off of the Staggered Screen was the back door cut. Although this post is focused on Curl Cuts, in a lot of ways it served the same purpose as the curl. In these scenarios the defender is aggressively trying to beat the cutter to the second screen. When this occurs we encouraged our cutters to put their foot in the ground and cut to the rim.
Concluding Thoughts -
At the high school level we want as many shots at the rim as possible, and its our job as coaches to make sure that we are designing offense that get these opportunities. I've also always been a believer in playing to the strengths of your roster and finding the right create actions to match your players' skill sets. If our roster does not have the type of players that can put pressure on the rim with their ball handling ability, but using Down Screen & Curl Cut action is a great option. Undoubtedly, we will need to put in the front end work on teaching the reads and screening/cutting details, but if done well we can counter nearly any defensive approach.
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