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What you need to know about the role of the Back-Court-Players in the offense of a basketball team...

A basketball team's offense will not function properly unless the team is manned with good back court players. In effect, the back court player “quarterbacks” the offense. He must constantly be alert to what the defense is doing, so he can start the one play, or series of plays, that will crack it and lead to a score.

But, before starting a play, the back court player must first get the ball into scoring area (the front court). He can do this by making a pitchout to a forward for a fast break, or by passing to another guard for a controlled, slow break.

The rule to follow is this:

•If the fast break opportunity is there—use it! But be sure it's there.

•If there's any doubt about the opportunity to start a fast break, bring the ball to the front court carefully and at moderate speed.

You must keep in mind that when you obtain possession in your back court, whether in or out of bounds, the two forwards and center are usually rushing down court.

An interception by the opposing team could mean an easy score since your back court would be practically undefended. Assuming that a team uses two guards as back court men, one of these guards must always assume the responsibility of taking the ball out of bounds after a field goal.

The in-court guard must be particularly alert and not let a “hanger” from the opposing team intercept the pass-in. The easiest way to throw off a defensive man in this situa¬tion is to fake a run down court, reverse quickly and run at the out-of-bounds man, favoring one side or the other.

If the defense persists in playing close as the ball is being advanced, the guards can elude them by crossing as they go up court. The player going to receive the pass, however, should go to the back-court side of the passer and cut as close to him as possible. In this way, the defensive man will either be picked off, or will be forced to swing around the crossing players. In either event, the receiver will often get the opportunity to drive into the clear.

To understand the function of the back court player, you should keep this fundamental factor in mind:

• The ball is the focal point of the attack. The defense adjusts to the ball. By stopping the ball, you stop the attack. By stopping the attack, you defeat your purpose.

The back court players, to be most effective, must constantly shift the focal point of the attack. The faster and more varied the shifts, the more pressure is put on the defense.

Don't bring the ball to the front court and stop it. If the inside men aren't breaking free, start a play immediately with the other guard.

The guards have to be mighty careful, however, when working with each other. An interception as one guard passes to another along the center line will certainly lead to an opposition score.

As the guards maneuver about, they should try to keep their bodies turned forward as much as possible. In other words, they should avoid standing with either side facing their own basket. The way to prevent interceptions is to keep the defense “honest.” Fake a drive into the front court, retreat and receive the pass in the clear.

If you can't shake the defensive man that way, cut close behind the man with the ball for a pass.

When you're handling the ball and intend to make a pass to your fellow guard, keep a careful eye on his defensive man. If the defense looks too close and seems eager to intercept, fake a pass. Should this cause the defensive man to dive out, your teammate can drive down court behind him. Give your mate a lead bounce pass and you'll have 5 against 4 in the vital front court. After this happens once or twice, the de¬fense will keep a respectful distance.

The back court players have one very important responsibility:

•They must supply the “outside” attack.

The back court players should never hesitate to take the outside shot when the defense lays back and gives them the opportunity. Make the defense play the guards. If the defense falls back, the offense is outnumbered in the front court and the front court becomes congested in the short-shot area.

This means, of course, the back court players must be good long range shooters.

The back court player needs one other weapon; a good fake and drive. For as soon as a guard hits with one or two outside shots, the defense will move closer. When the guard can't shoot over his defensive man and can't pass, he has only one other move—fake and drive.

Obviously, every offensive play isn't going to work. Several will backfire during the course of the game. When they do, it's up to one or both of the guards to hamper the attacking team until all the players can fall back on defense.

The guards can't get reckless in this situation. And they shouldn't panic.

Back court play is hard work. The back court player doesn't get always too much “glory” from the scoring column. But a basketball team can't do without him.

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