Almost all the teams I've ever coached we've always used the fast-break as our primary offense. One of the teams that I like to imitate are those of Roy Williams previously of Kansas and now of UNC. His teams always looked to run first and combined with pressure defense was very effective.

Conventional wisdom states that if you don't have speed, you can't run. My personal opinion is that every team can develop a strong transition game. I feel that you should design your transition based on the personnel that you have. So if you have all quick guys that can finish you can pass to anyone and go. If you have all big slow guys, you should rely on crisp passing.

The fast break you'll read about below is one that we designed specifically one year when we had a terrific 3-point shooter. In many ways, it's similar to the way Florida ran with Lee Humphrey shooting the 3-pointer except that our Lee Humphrey was our best player. We felt that if we could beat the defense down the court and get our best player the ball undefended, it was the best percentage play for us. I've never run it again as I've yet to coach a shooter that was as good as this one player, but I'm explaining it here to give you all some ideas for how to design your fast break.

The Team:
We had good speed and ball-handling at the point, a terrific 3pt shooter, and some strong athletic but not particularly fast forwards.

The problem with our team was skill mostly. Our guards were mostly short and didn't finish particularly well. Specifically, they would get nervous about getting blocked on the fast break (including our 2). Our forwards were football players and were strong and could finish, but weren't very fast and didn't have many post abilities. The key of course was our 2 guard, one of the best 3-point shooters I've ever coached.

For this team, as soon as we forced a turnover, defensive stop, defensive rebound or scored basket, we passed the ball out to our 1, point guard. We taught our 1 guard to speed dribble through center court no matter where they caught the ball and our wings would sprint out along the sidelines. It was preferable for our 2 to run the right side but not essential. We like our 1 to run in the middle because he was a terrific ball-handler and could beat any man off the dribble so we wanted him in open space.

Our 4 was the trailer and 5 was the safety. The 4 is running as fast as he can in his lane (off from middle). 5 is running the opposite side (off from middle) and is the safety in case we turn the ball over or long rebound the other way.

First Option and Counter:
Now that our team is set, we go through our options. Since our 2 was such a great 3-point shooter, we want to get the ball in his hands in a catch and shoot. Typically, the defense will setup in a 1-1 or 1-0 so our 2 will be wide open. When the defense adjusts and the bottom defender comes up to defend 2, we will fake to 2 and pass to 3 for an open layup which was a great counter play once teams adjusted. Or on the overplay, 2 would go backdoor and we could hit 2 going to the basket.

Another option was that once 2 got the ball, his defender closed out quickly and he could find 3 underneath the basket. But even better was a shot fake to get the defender in the air and an easy lane straight to the hoop.

Secondary Break:
When 2 was covered and 3 was covered, our 4 was the trailer and 2 would look quickly to see if he could hit 4 cutting to the basket. This was usually a good option for us as our 4 was a very strong finisher and was difficult to stop once he was going full-speed towards the hoop.

If all else failed, 2 would get the ball back to 1 and we'd setup our half-court. 5 would be the last one down the court and would setup.

We probably scored 75% of our points off of the fast break that year. We probably had a total of 2 half-court plays we used all year. Obviously the key was our 1 and 2.

Our 1 had terrific handles and was lightening quick but wasn't a particularly good finisher or shooter. In open space, he could beat anyone.

Our 2 was the star of the team and played most of the game. When 2 was not on the floor, we ran a traditional 3-2 break. That year, our 2 averaged around 30 points and 5-6 3-pointers per game. He was close to 50% shooting from beyond the arc. One game, the other team never adjusted and he hit 10 or more three-pointers. After the game, I asked their coach why he never adjusted and he said he's never played a team that fast-breaked into 3-pointers. He figured that our guy would miss eventually.

We won our district league that year and won the post-season tournament to finish as league champs, our overall record was 29-7. In the playoffs, we almost beat the eventual state champs (tied with 4 minutes to go) but had a disappointing loss in the back-door game into the state championship tournament.

You might be asking what happened to our 2-guard? He was also a terrific badminton player (our school was state champs) and went on to play badminton for the junior national team. He is in college now, and plays basketball recreationally.

I have yet to see a video that specifically talks about transition to the 3-pointer, but Roy Williams is legendary for his Kansas Break which is a series of quick-hitters that he used in Kansas (and still uses at UNC) to score on the primary or secondary break. The main difference being they primarily want to get the ball into the low post. You can find Coach Williams' video here.

Go over the Coaching Basketball Forum to discuss.