America's Play (HV Weekly: 7/5/2020)

The evolution of plays that have become nationwide staples.

Welcome back to the Hoop Vision Weekly!

For this 4th of July edition, we take a look at “America’s Play” and the evolution of plays that have become nationwide staples.

Now that we’re a few weeks into it, here’s another reminder that the Weekly will be sent on Sundays moving forward throughout the offseason, just as we did last summer. For HV+ subscribers, keep an eye out for more tutorials and presentations as we get into the dog days of summer — including one coming this week.


For full access to tutorials and the deep archive of HV+ research, join Hoop Vision Plus today for $10/month or $100/year.


America’s Play

Back in 2017, FastModel Sports asked coaches what they considered “America’s Play,” and the answers that emerged were surprisingly varied.

At the college level, the phrase “America’s Play” (or even just “America”) is used to refer to screen-the-screener action. More specifically, a player setting a cross screen and then receiving a pin down. Some coaching staffs will even use the terminology directly on scouting reports given to their players.

While screen-the-screener action has been a staple of basketball offenses for decades, it arguably reached its apex coinciding with the success of Gregg Popovich’s “Motion Weak” set.

Below is a compilation of Motion Weak by the anonymous “How U” YouTube account. How U hasn’t posted a new video in five years, but their style of video — showing the step-by-step progression of a set or action — was a major influence for the style of Hoop Vision videos published on Twitter.

The Motion Weak set was so popular during the Spurs’ dynasty that even Roy Williams — despite his ardent, unwavering loyalty to the Carolina Break — temporarily adopted it. The set continues to be used — albeit to a lesser extent than five years ago — by teams around the country.

Other candidates

Loyal readers of the newsletter already know about the Most Run Play in College Basketball — a clear candidate for a “new” America’s Play. But we have two other candidates used throughout the country for specific situations.

[1] Late-game chop/pistol

In 2008, Mario Chalmers nailed a three with 2.1 seconds left to send the national championship game into overtime. The play Bill Self used — a dribble handoff with a flare screen on the weak side — was called Chop.

Matt Giles (a friend and past contributor to the HV Weekly!) wrote a fantastic article about the play back in 2014. The article includes video and quotes from other coaches and teams implementing the late-game dribble handoff.

Link: How A Clever Kansas Play Went Viral And Took Over College Basketball

We still see plenty of dribble handoff, flare screen, and hammer action in late-game scenarios out of either Chop or Pistol.

Kris Jenkins’ national championship buzzer beater for Villanova had a similar effect on coaches. Travis Steele explained he borrowed “21 Pitch” from Villanova in a post-game interview back in November.

[2] Everybody’s favorite zone lob

If a team with an athletic wing/forward is playing against a 2-3 zone, there’s a good chance you’ll find them setting up the following lob play.

The play — which occupies two of the bottom defenders while a third player sneaks in for the lob — was responsible for three Trey Lyles dunks in just one game alone.

It’s not a continuity or base offense that can be run over and over, but it’s a quick hitter that has been haunting opposing coaches for years.


ICYMI from around the internet


Next week for HV+ subscribers

Over the last couple months, I’ve been on dozens of Zoom calls with different groups of coaches to discuss basketball analytics. The presentations have focused on actionable advice and insight for coaches with all different backgrounds and program resources.

Next week, I’ll record a similar version of that presentation and send it out to Hoop Vision PLUS subscribers.

It will be the fourth in our recent series of tutorial videos for HV+ subscribers:

HV+ Summer Tutorials

  1. Defensive accounting — measuring individual defense

  2. Charting offense — measuring offensive sets and schemes

  3. Play animation tutorial — how to create the moving text and screens in videos

  4. Basketball analytics for basketball coaches presentation

Become a Hoop Vision PLUS member for $10/month or $100/year.