It's been a while since I posted on the topic of press breaks. Tonight, I watched Tennessee squeak by Alabama on the road and one of the keys to sealing the win was breaking the full court pressure of the Crimson Tide late in the game. Alabama was face-guarding Tennessee guard Chris Lofton as they knew he was their best ball-handler and best free-throw shooter, but the Vols still found a way to get him the ball late in the game to seal the win with free-throws. There were actually a couple of nice press breaks used by the Vols late in the game, but I'm just showing the one here,

I posted earlier with Robert Morris' press break using the give and go. The idea here is similar.

Middle Handoff Press Break:

This is a really smart press break. The handoff is a really safe pass to make especially when the defense is overplaying. And the action is in the middle where you can really attack the press.

The Crimson Tide are basically in a very aggressive face-guarding M2M press. What Tennessee does is have 1 player, O3, v-cut to the ball, then fly down the sideline. This takes X3 and X5 with him. O5 cuts to the middle of the floor, around the 3-point line. O1 is Chris Lofton and is being pinched in front and behind. O2 inbounds to O5 in the middle.

After the pass is made, the pressure defense is caught on it's heels a bit overplaying Lofton. This allows him to come to meet the ball and O5 who executes a simple handoff, like you would in football. O1 dribbles down the middle of the floor and is automatically fouled. Lofton would hit both free-throws.


Using the pressure to your advantage is one of ways to break it. The idea is, if the defense is overplaying everything, you beat it by going over the top. It's the whole action/reaction theory. My preference is to use ball reversals and get the ball over half-court. Regardless of how you break the press, playing against pressure is key. You will never be a good team unless your players understand how to play with the lead and play under control against aggressive pressure.

For more great press breakers, check out Bill Self's DVD on the 1-3-1 press-break. Head over to the X's and O's Basketball forum to discuss this and many more of your favorite basketball topics.