In this post we're going to take a look at two ways for the Rim Runner to score in Early Offense; Runs Outs & Post Ups.
Using a Rim Runner in transition is a great way to put pressure on the rim from the moment your team gets the basketball. Teams that employ this strategy generally either use a single Rim Runner or a tandem Rim Runner system. Regardless of which version you use the goal is to get a post player sprinting towards the rim. This sprint to the rim gives the post player an excellent chance to score an easy basket and also creates gravity for the trailing players.
In this post, I wanted to dig into the two scoring options for the Rim Runner; 1) The Pitch Ahead Run Out, and 2) The Early Post Up. Both of these scoring opportunities can be created by simply post players sprinting the floor hard, making contact with their defender, and positioning themselves to get an entry pass. The beauty of the Rim Runner concept is in its simplicity - if the coaching staff is committed to placing a heavy emphasis on it, and the post players are committed to running the floor with conviction it will add a layer to your transition offense.
Rim Run Concept -
I have used both versions of the Rim Runner system. When we were more of a Motion Offense team we used the tandem version, one that asked both our 4 and 5 men to spend time in the post and on the perimeter as a screener. In years where post play was a bit harder to find we employed the single Rim Runner version. I think both versions were effective in emphasizing our strengths while maintaining our 4 Out Spacing, but if I had to choose which created the most scoring opportunities I would say the tandem version. Before we get into scoring opportunities themselves, I wanted to detail how that tandem system would work.
Forwards Rebound -
As a general rule of thumb, we would teach that the player who is ahead of the basketball should be the Rim Runner (4/5 Men).
4 Man Rebounds:
In the diagram on the right one of our forwards (4) rebounds the basketball. In this scenario, we are expecting our 5 Man to get out in front of the pack and sprint to the rim.
Outlet & Trail:
Once the 4 Man outlets the basketball he is then trailing the play looking to settle into the slot opposite the basketball. As we will detail later in the post it is the 5 Man who will be getting the Run Out & Post Up opportunities in these situations. The 4 Man now settles into his role within our half-court offense.
5 Man Rebounds -
When the 5 Man rebounds, or if the 4 Man somehow finds himself ahead of the pack, he now becomes our Rim Runner.
5 Man Rebounds:
In this diagram, the 5 Man rebounds the basketball. As he prepares to make the outlet pass to the point guard we are asking our 4 Man to sprint ahead of the pack and become our Rim Runner.
Outlet & Trail:
Just as the 4 Man had done in the previous possession the 5 Man now trails the play and assumes his position in the slot opposite of the basketball. In this scenario, it is the 4 Man who will get our Rim Run Run Out & Post Up opportunities, while the 5 Man performs his perimeter duties in your offensive system.
Food for Thought -
One thing you might want to consider is whether you have two players who can perform those tasks on your roster. If you have two players who can play comfortably on the perimeter but also step into the post and play intelligently then this is a system that could pay off immensely. If you don't have two of those players then I would consider going to a single rim runner system, and decide what you will do if that Rim Runner trails the play.
Pitch Ahead Run Outs -
The first scoring opportunity that a Rim Runner has is to simply sprint out ahead of the pack looking to get a pitch ahead pass for a score. A good Rim Runner can perhaps get 1-2 scores per game if they are willing to simply outrun their man possession after possession. Even players with limited ball skills can capitalize on this opportunity in the Rim Runner system.
Pitch Ahead - Run Outs
First Three Steps:
We are asking our wing players and Rim Runner to put their heads down and sprint the first three steps after we get the ball. If we cannot outrun our defender in those first three steps then we are giving up this first scoring opportunity.
The Tandem System:
In most of the clips, I used in the following videos we are using our tandem Rim Runner system. Whichever player (4/5) is ahead of the basketball first is the one who will get those Pitch Ahead Run Out scores.
Keep in Mind:
One thing to remind your Rim Run players about is the impact that their running will have on the trailing players. Even if they do not get the ball they are creating gravity in the form of helping defenders for those players trailing to the slot. In the film room, it would behoove coaches to highlight Rim Runs that do not result in scores but create space for trailing players to operate.
Pitch Ahead - Run Outs
Early Post Entry -
If the Rim Run does not end in a Pitch Ahead pass then we are asking our Rim Runners to immediately fight for early post position. For a dominant post player, this is an excellent chance to get the ball in prime scoring position before the defense has a chance to set itself. Aside from the chance to score the ball, this early post up has the added benefits of:
Occupying the X5, who now can not help on a Middle Third Attack
Occupying the backside help defense
Pitch Ahead - Post Up
In the diagram and video to follow the basketball has been pitched ahead up the sideline. Regardless of which sideline the ball was advanced on we are now expecting the Rim Runner to make contact with his defender and dig for post position.
Low Post Phase:
From this moment on we are entering the Low Post Phase of our offense. In many of the video clips, our approach was to have the passer settle into the ballside slot after pitching ahead. The basketball can then be entered into or kicked back up to the slot to initiate our create action.
If you want to see what we're doing into 2021-22 check out the Transition Flow Post.
Food for Thought:
There may be coaches out there who are thinking that they do not have Rim Runners capable of getting the ball in the post and making moves to get scores. In years where we ran into that exact problem, we simply asked our Rim Runner to sprint to the rim and then drop to the block opposite of the basketball. We trained our Rim Runner to work on getting position opposite of perimeter drives and be ready for Drop Passes and Offensive Rebounds. Which this approach you are losing some of the benefits of a deep post-up, but you are helping your post player be a more effective player on the offensive end.
Pitch Ahead - Post ups
Concluding Thoughts - The concept of a Rim Runner has clear benefits for your transition offense. It provides opportunities to score for your post player and creates gravity for the trailing players in the slot. For a dominant post player who attracts a ton of attention in the half-court, this is a great way for them to get touches without the crowding that help defense normally brings. If your coaching staff can make the commitment to training your post players to execute the Rim Runner system, and your post players make the commitment to sprinting the floor each possession, you will undoubtedly see a boost to your transition offense's efficiency.
Excellent Video from @RadiusAthletics that demonstrates Michigan State's use of a Rim Runner
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