Stevan Karadzic, assistant coach of the Division I Serbia and Montenegro Red Star team of Belgrade since 1995, became the selector of all the Serbian and Montenegro Youth national teams in 2001. As head coach of the Under 18 national team, he won the 2005 FIBA European Championship. He was also head coach of the Under 20 National team, and was assistant coach of the Men's National team at the FIBA 2002 World and 2003 European Championships.
We established a special program for selecting the best youth players in 2001, and since then we have had excellent results. In fact, we won the gold medals at the 2001 FIBA European Under 14, 2003 Under 16, and 2005 Under 18 Championships. We remained undefeated in these three events.
To prepare for the 2005 FIBA European Under 18 Championship, we trained for about 100 days and played 20 exhibition tournaments. The practice period, specifically aimed at the European Championships, was made up for a total of 54 practices with 10 exhibition games.
All these great results were possible thanks to the mental, physical, and technical skills of my players, and the offensive game was tailored to their skills and attitudes. I will now describe the four plays we used as our foundation and used successfully during the course of the championship.
We used this play on the secondary break, when the defense was not yet set.
1 passes the ball to 4, who immediately reverses the ball and passes to 2, while 5 steps out and screens for 3, who cuts in the three-second lane and goes to the low-post position on the ball side (diagr. 1).
3 screens for 5, then cuts high, receives a vertical screen from 4 and pops out at the threepoint line (diagr. 2).
2 can pass to 3 for a three-point shot, or to 5 in the low-post area (diagr. 3).
If 3 receives the ball, but he cannot shoot, he plays pick-and-roll with 4, while 5 cuts in the lane and goes to the low-post area on the other side of the court (diagr. 4).
3 dribbles around the screen, and can pass to 5 or to 4, who rolls to the basket after the screen (diagr.5).
BASIC OFFENSE: LOW POST
The primary option is to pass the ball to the low post. 4 is in the low-post area, while 5 is outside of the lane, on the opposite side of the court, and 2 and 3 are outside the three-point line. 1, the point guard, passes the ball to 2, and then clears out, going on the low-post position, opposite of 4. At the same time, 5 screens for 3. The first option for 2 is to pass the ball to 4. (diagr. 6).
If 2 cannot pass the ball to 4, he reverses the ball, passing to 3, while 5 screens down for 1, who pops outside the three-point line (diagr. 7).
3 passes to 1, then cuts in the lane and goes out in the corner opposite to the pass, and 2 spots up. The first option for 1 is to pass the ball to 5 in the low-post (diagr. 8).
If this is not possible, 5 comes out of the lane, and plays pick-and-roll with 1, while 4 comes to the high-post position on the corner of the free-throw area (diagr. 9).
Again, 1 tries to pass to 5, or he can also pass to 4 for a high-low play: in this case, 4 passes the ball to 5 (diagr. 10).
PLAY FOR THE OUTSIDE SHOOTERS
This play is designed for the outside shooters. We start with a one-two-two set, with two high posts at the corners of the free-throw area, and the two shooters in the corners. 3 fakes a cut in the three-second lane, and then comes high and receives a screen from 5, while 1 dribbles in the wing area to improve his passing angle (diagr. 11).
1 passes the ball to 3 for a jump shot, while 4 screens down for 2 (diagr. 12).
If 3 cannot shoot, he passes the ball to 2, while 1 cuts along the baseline, and, using the screen of 4, goes out in the corner (diagr. 13).
Right after the pass to 2, 3 fakes to go toward the ball and then cuts on the flare screen of 5, fades away and receives the ball from 2 (diagr. 14).
3 can take a jump shot or pass the ball to 5, who, after the flare screen, cuts and goes on the low post on the ball side (diagr. 15).
PLAY FOR THE SMALL AND POWER FORWARDS
We use this play to exploit the skills of our small and power forwards, as well as to beat a poor defense with the backdoor cuts.
On this play, 5 is at the high post and the other four players are on the perimeter. 1 passes to 4 and then clears out on the weak side of the court, while 3 fakes to cut in the lane, makes a backdoor cut and then replaces 1 in the middle of the court (diagr. 16).
4 passes to 3, 1 makes a backdoor cut, and, if he does not receive the ball, comes back to the original 45-degree position (diagr. 17).
3 passes the ball to 1, and using the screen from 5, cuts in the three-second lane. If he does not receive the ball, he goes out of the lane and makes a back pick for 4, who cuts inside and goes to the low-post area on the ball side (diagr. 18).
3 and 5 set a staggered screen for 2, who comes high. 1 has three passing options: he can give the ball to 4 in the low post, to 2 in the middle of the court, and to 5, who, after the screen for 2, rolls to the basket (diagr. 19).