Nikos Keramefs started his coaching career with the youth teams of Aris Salonica, Greece, winning five national titles with cadet and junior teams. He was also head coach of the MENT Salonica, a second division Greek team, and assistant coach of the Aris first division team. Since 1998, he has worked with the Greek Basketball Federation. In 1999, he was head coach of the national cadet team that won a silver medal. His young men's team that won a gold medal in 2002 and a silver medal in 2007 with the Under 18 team at the FIBA European Championships.
The main offense that we worked on for the forty days of practices for the 2007 FIBA Under 18 European Championship was the motion offense, with a box-andone formation. Four perimeter players and one big man inside was how this offense worked. I tailored this offense based on the talents of my players.
Ten days before the opening game of the European Championship U-18 Kostas Koufos 2,13 (7'1") arrived from the United States, where he played in the high school, and was added to our roster. His imposing presence forced us to adjust our offensive game. We continued with our motion offense, but with a different aim. Taking advantage of Koufos' size and skills, we wanted to give the ball to him down on the post and close to the basket, setting the other players on the perimeter, creating difficulty for the player guarding Koufos. Happily for us, Koufos was elected MVP of the championship.
With the short time we had at our disposal after his arrival, we prepared some plays with our main aim to take advantage of him. In this way, we enhanced the value of the rest of our players and their ability to adjust offensively.
In the eight games that we played, we used the plays that I will describe shortly, trying to accomplish two goals. Our first goal was to succeed in passing the ball to the post player in different ways and with different sets. Our second goal, due to the scouting of our opponents that focused on the presence of Koufos, was to make small changes to our plays from game to game in order to surprise our opponents. What we achieved was great because, after the arrival of Koufos and before the start of the Championship, he participated only in six practice sessions and five exhibition games.
Lastly, I would like to emphasize the excellent collaboration and participation I had from all the other players of the team, as well as my assistant coaches, and the administrative staff of the Hellenic Basketball Federation.
I would like now to describe the following characteristics of our team.
- Our 5 player was Koufos.
- In the position of the power forward, 4, we were lucky to have both tall and short players.
- Our three point guards were all left handed.
We tried to take advantage of the above characteristics while planning for our games.
UCLA CUT 1
4 sets a screen for 1. 1 goes around the screen of 4 and cuts inside or outside, depending on how the defender plays. 2 looks for a pass to 1. If he cannot pass to 1, he passes to 4, who opens outside. 1 posts down low in the lane (diagr. 1)
Cross screen and isolation at mid post
5 sets a screen for 1. Before using the screen, 1 must set his defender up to draw him into the screen and then cut the baseline. If the defender of 5 body checks, 5 is free for a moment and can receive the ball from 4. If 5 is not free, 4 passes the ball to 1, while 3 clears out the wing position spot by going to the mid post (diagr. 2).
When 1 receives the ball, he dribbles toward the free-throw line extension and 4 goes to the corner of the free-throw area, ready to set a screen (diagr. 3).
3 makes a cross screen for 5 and 4 sets a screen for 3 (screen-the-screener) and then moves to the corner to clear out for 5, while 2 moves to the weak side for defensive balance. 1 can pass to 5 or to 3 (diagr. 4).
UCLA CUT 2
1 passes to 2 and receives a screen from 4. If 1 cannot cut in the lane, he comes back to the initial position and receives the ball back from 2 (diagr. 5).
1 is screened by 5, and then rolls outside after the screen to have a better angle for the pass and to read the defense. 1 can:
- Take the shot.
- Look for a pass to 5, who rolls to the basket.
- If X3 helps on 5, then the ball goes to 3, who is open (diagr. 6).
HI – LOW
If X4 helps on 5, then 1 looks to pass on the weak side. 1 can pass to 4 for a shot, and there is a chance of a high-low play between 4 and 5. 1 can also pass to 2 and 2 looks to pass to 5 (diagr. 7).
Point Guard Isolation
1 dribbles to the foul line extension and keeps the dribble alive, while 3 clears out the wing spot, leaving 1 playing one-onone with his defender. If 1 cannot beat his defender, 3 sets a screen for 5, who sets himself at the mid post spot, ready to receive a pass (diagr. 8).
5 receives the ball from 1 and can go one-on-one. If there is a trap run by the other big man defender, 5 passes to 4, who dives to the basket, or, if 4 cannot receive the ball, he goes to the corner.
If the trap is run by a guard, 5 reads the defensive rotation and passes to 2 on the perimeter, and 2 passes to 4 in the corner (diagr. 9).
Shooting Guard Isolation
If the defense does not let 5 receive the ball, 1 passes to 3, and, at the same time, 4 goes at the mid post spot, and 2 and 1 move towards the baseline (diagr. 10).
At this point, 3 has the option to play one-onone (driving to the right or to the left) at the top of the lane without any defensive help.
If 3 drives to the basket, 1 and 2 create passing lanes, 4 and 5 clear out by moving to the opposite direction from the drive. This offers 3 the chance to have two passing lanes (diagr. 11).
Quick High Low Play
We set with two high posts at the corners of the free-throw area and two wings lower than the posts.
1 gets a screen from 4, and goes around the screen, forcing X4 to help. At the same time, 5 screens for 4, creating an option for 4 to get open on the weak side with this flare screen (diagr. 12). If the defense switches, which often happens, 5, after screening, rolls to the basket, trying to lock X4 on his back to create a high-low play, with 4, who can pass the ball to 5.
The three perimeter players must keep moving to keep their defenders busy and not let them help (diagr. 13).
Pick-and-roll and back pick to feed the post man
Out of a one-four set at the free-throw extension, 1 dribbles to the foul line extension, keeping the dribble alive and, at the same time 2 moves to the mid post on the strong side (diagr. 14).
5 sets side a pick on the ball for 1, who drives to the lane and attracts the help of X.
2 sets a back pick on X5. If the pick is successful or if there is a switch, 5 will receive the ball close to the basket, taking an advantage of the mismatch. After the pick, 2 rolls to the wing and 4 goes outside of the lane (diagr. 15).
If the ball cannot be passed directly to 5, 1 passes to 2, who opens up at the foul line extension. From there, he can feed the ball to the 5 from a better passing angle.