Basketball is a game played like chess; the board is court, the pieces are the players, the moves and counter moves are defenses and offenses. I don’t scout teams in middle school because it just isn’t possible and frankly, it isn’t necessary. Every defense presents a specific set and movement that makes it quite easy to counter with an offense that creates opportunities to score.
Man to Man defenses pressure ball handlers and force the offense to use a screen on ball to create drives, a screen and roll to open passing lanes, a screen away from the ball for cuts to break tight defenders, or v-cuts with backdoor moves to get yourself open. If these moves are executed, the opponent will be forced to cover the lane and either back off the man defense or switch to a zone.
Presses whether in the full court or half court set will always try to create pressure and chaos leading to turnovers. The key is to teach players to read the press knowing when to dribble and when to pass. The entire team has to be focused on their role, moving and alert to openings and gaps that create scoring options. If executed properly, the team scores layups and the opponent backs out of the press.
Every zone defense has its own purpose whether that is to stay inside and cover the lane or spread out to protect areas with good shooters. But because they have a starting set with certain shifts and movements when the ball is passed, they are easy to read and find holes that are used for scoring. Teaching players to read the set form of the defense is the key to choosing the offensive counter. All zones can be “broken” with ball movement through passes that shift the zone. Players must be patient and willing to pass until that “hole” opens up and any player at any time can be in a position to score. If a player dribbles on a zone defense, it should be into gaps causing the defense to collapse which then opens outside shooters. If executed properly, the opponent will try to make adjustments to the movement in the zone or simply switch defenses.
So my offensive focus in practice is to present the team with a variety of defenses to practice a variety of offenses. I am really teaching them to see the set and read the movement. They learn to make good scoring choices as a team and they learn to take good shots.