Copycat Game: Villanova Wildcats and the All in One Offense Part 1

The Late great innovator Steve Jobs once said “Simplicity is the ultimate Sophistication.” That perfectly details the Wildcats approach on offense and is a large reason why they were able to shock the world to become NCAA Tournament champions over the loaded North Carolina Tarheels in 2016. What Coach Jay Wrights squad does on that end looks simple and sometimes random but a better description of their style would be organized chaos.

Copycat game is a segment where we will explore various systems on either end of the floor and look to show you how you can possibly incorporate some or all of the principles listed. Before diving into the Os and Xs, I want to share a quote from Villanova’s Josh Hart after winning the title that night. He said “We genuinely love each other and we don’t care who gets the credit. This is a special team.” The unselfish approach they take to the game reminded us of the San Antonio Spurs 2014 Championship season in which they defeated the high flying Miami Heat with a passing display not witnessed in quite some time. This article will focus on its uses against man to man defense while part 2 will cover how to use it against zones.

We start with a simple alignment of four players spaced on the perimeter along the slots also known as the lane lines, the two wings and a post player who is always on the same side as the ball. Your four man (Trail) should be in the slot opposite the 5 while players one through. three can take the remaining spaces. As you will see below, the reason I call this the all in one offense is because it’s principles work against all defenses like man to man, 23, 131, 122/32 and even junk defenses.

— — -Transition

On the fast break we are looking to move the ball up the floor with the pass as early as possible. The outlet on this break can be any perimeter player and their reads are similar to that of a quarterback. First look to kick ahead to the wing sprinting down the sideline, followed by the rim runner in the middle of the floor, and lastly the Weakside corner via skip pass.

— — -Slot to Slot pass

Any slot to slot pass tells the post to move to the ball side block. The passer face cuts in front of his defender to the rim before taking the wing while he is being replaced. Though the Wildcats don’t do this often, ill occasionally call the actions “down” and “up” as triggers for a Weakside downscreen to the slot or flare screen to the corner based on how we are being defended. Once your team has mastered the basics, you can even let them screen each other freely based on which defender is helping more so into the paint by using their help position against them.

— — -Slot to Wing pass

On this pass, the player simply FaceCuts to the rim and takes the opposite wing while the other players fill the empty spots. This is a key action that will show itself more in part 2 against zone defenses where our skilled players can move through the various holes of the defense for shots or high low passes. With players constantly moving through the zone, it makes it difficult for a player to sit back and guard their area.

— — -Wing to Post Entry Pass

This part of the offense is lethal when done properly. Instead of cutting through on the post entry, the players at the wing and slot perform a “Split” action by screening for each other at the elbows while the Weakside players cut and exchange places. Currently the Golden State Warriors are well known for this action but it’s an area of the game that has been around for decades. Players are free to cut and screen to open areas which prevents the defense from helping down on the post.

— — -Wing to opposite slot pass (post denial)

If we are unable to get the ball to the post, the ball is reversed to the opposite slot. After the guards exchange on whatever action takes place, the 5 vacates the post to set a ball screen. Once this happens, we look to create a 2 on 1 situation on the floor to get whatever shot the defense gives up. Aces is a term used for a spread ballscreen that attacks the side with only one player on it. Meanwhile, deuces goes towards two offensive players.

That does it for CopyCat Game: Villanova Wildcats and the all in one offense! Keep a lookout for part 2 on using its principles against zone defenses and feel free to leave a comment below, find me on twitter @Kj_the_scout, or email me at 14ksmith14@gmail.com. You may also find me at Hoopgrind.com where our blog posts great content every week.!

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