Read & React is more than just a better way to play offense. Read & React is my critique on the current state of basketball – especially what offensive basketball has become in my lifetime.
The basketball culture is full of contradictions:
1. Coaches say that they’re trying to build leaders. However, they control every possession of the game – they take pride in being the sole offensive decision-maker. They build followers not leaders.
2. Coaches train their players to be able to take whatever the defense gives, to read the defense and choose the best line of attack with the best choice of moves. However, they lock them in to set play after set play and actually reward players who are “executors” rather than creators or opportunists. Regardless of what the coach says in public, who the coach “starts” is an indicator of what he/she values. If you execute coach’s decisions, then you are rewarded with playing time. That message is crystal clear to players regardless of what is said in public.
3. Coaches preach “teamwork” and hold up “team values” as the single most important ingredient to being successful. However, their language betrays them: “If we don’t have something (code for “if my decisions (set plays) don’t work”) then you (singular; not plural) must create something.” In other words, the coach is saying: “If my plan for teamwork fails, then abandon teamwork, go 1-on-5 and try to score.” The players who can do this type of thing are highly recruited on all levels. The unspoken message is clear to all players: I give lip service to teamwork and I’m willing to go a pass or two into the offense if that’s what it takes to land a starting position and/or significant playing time, but my true value lies in my ability to abandon teamwork at the right time and “make a big play”.
I should point out that I wish I had 5 players like this on the floor at all times in my Read & React System. Read & React ties the 4 without the ball to these creative/opportunistic actions of the ball-handler at all times! Not SOME of the time, but ALL OF THE TIME! Not at the beginning of a possession, but from BEGINNING OF THE POSSESSION TO THE END OF THE POSSESSION!
Read & React trains players to be LEADERS and DISCIPLINED FOLLOWERS at all times on the floor. Every time the ball is passed, the role of Leader and Follower(s) changes. The Leader is whoever has the ball. The Followers are those without the ball (Reactors). The CREATORS are (1) the players in the lane without the ball AND (2) the ball-handler.
Teamwork is NEVER abandoned in the Read & React because it’s not something that the ball-handler controls!
I could spend the rest of my life shouting this message from the mountaintops and I wonder if it would EVER sink in! Let me put it in different words:
When a team is running ANY traditional offense, the ball-handler can break the 5-player-coordination that we call “teamwork” at any time. If the ball-handler chooses to do something that the offense does NOT call for, then he/she has broken or abandoned the team’s ability to work together. However, in Read & React, the ball-handler can choose to do ANYTHING that they want to do at ANYTIME and our 5-player-coordination (teamwork) will not be broken or abandoned! The 4 players without the ball REACTING correctly (via Read & React) to the ball-handler IS THE OFFENSE!! The ball-handler can be as opportunistic as he/she wants to be! That’s great in the Read & React! That’s needed in the Read & React! That’s valued in the Read & React! When the ball-handler chooses to “make a play”, our 5-player-coordination (teamwork) is not abandoned or broken! On the contrary, THAT’S WHERE IT BEGINS! Teamwork should be a trait that every player values, but IT IS NOT NECESSARY in the Read & React! All that is necessary in the Read & React is for those players without the ball to be properly trained to react to the ball with the ONE-AND-ONLY-ONE reaction dictated by Read & React system.
NOTE: I think it’s obvious that there’s a limit to selfishness. As an example, if the ball-handler makes an attempt to drive to the goal and is stopped by all 5 defenders, leaving all 4 teammates open in their Read & React spots AND the ball-handler refuses to pass, i.e., he/she forces a shot or turns the ball over, then OF COURSE this amount of selfishness will not work. It won’t work in ANY system! It won’t even work in pick-up basketball. This type of player would last one game on the street and would never be chosen for another game!
My point with the Read & React is that teamwork cannot be abandoned regardless of the INTENTION of the ball-handler. However, when using traditional offenses, the ball-handler CAN and often does abandon the teamwork that’s needed to win.