The SABA Offensive Philosophy

SABA is more of a philosophy of offensive basketball than it is a specific system. Consequently, the philosophy can be applied to any system, although it may change the system’s precise goals and execution. To learn more about the specifics of SABA, please see SABA: The Antifragile Offense, available as a Kindle or a paperback.

SABA is based on the idea that an offensive possession has four possible states: Disadvantage (defensive advantage), neutral, small advantage and big advantage.

A disadvantage is when the defense aggressively pursues a steal; the basic principles of attack do not change if this attempt is a full-court diamond press, a half-court 1-3-3 or trapping a high on-ball screen. Consequently, we do not have numerous full-court and half-court press breaks. In fact, we do not have a press break; we just have proper spacing in the full-court and half-court, and proper spacing when a teammate is trapped.

Our offensive objective is to create a big advantage; for us, a big advantage is an open layup or a catch-and-shoot three-pointer for one of our 37+% shooters. When we face a disadvantage, our goal is to create the big advantage immediately, as beating a trap immediately takes out two defenders, creating a numerical advantage.

In transition, the offense has a small advantage because the defense is not set; depending on the numbered advantage, the offense may start with a big advantage (2v1, 4v2), but at minimum, it has a small advantage. Our objective is to maintain and extend this advantage rather than allowing the defense to recover and set up.

When the defense is set, and the position starts from neutral, the offense uses an action to create its advantage. Occasionally, the action works perfectly, and the team moves directly from neutral to a big advantage. In a traditional view, this is the “play” working.

The action always creates an advantage, even when the big advantage is not available immediately. If the defense switches to prevent a layup, now the offense has created two mismatches, which is a small advantage. When a player catches without sufficient room to shoot, but with a defender closing out, she has a small advantage; we want to keep the defense in rotations until we create the big advantage (desired shot).

Occasionally, whether due to the defense or the shot clock, the offense does not extend the advantage and instead uses the small advantage to create its shot. Not every possession ends with an open layup or a wide open catch and shoot three-pointer.

Coaching a European Club – Week 21

I started this week by having a talk with another of my young players. Late in last week’s game, he passed up an open three-pointer and committed a turnover. I explained to him that in the stats that I have (there are no official stats for our games, and nobody from our club travels to away games), he is shooting over 40% from the three-point line. I explained that 40% three-point shooting equals 1.2 points per shot, which is, at worst, our third best possible shot. He passed up the shot in a game in which he tied his career high with 20 points and missed only one shot. I implored him to shoot more, and that we needed him to take 6-8 three-point shots per game and 10-15 total shots.  Read more

Coaching Frosh Basketball – Week 6

We lost a close game. We fell behind early, as per usual. I attribute our early difficulties to two things: (1) our players are comfortable; none is willing to push beyond his comfort zone. Therefore, we practice at one tempo, but the game is at another tempo. We do not have a player who pushes the other players to increase the intensity, so it takes a while for us to adjust to the game tempo. (2) every team that we play runs dozens of set plays. In this game, the coach called out a play on every possession. For the entire first quarter, they ran a different play on almost every possession. The first time that we see the play, our opponent generally gets a good shot. After we see the play once or twice, we adjust and take away the first couple options. Our opponent needed a late fade-away three to hit double-digits in the second half.  Read more

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