John Calipari's Dribble Drive Offense

Memphis Tigers "Dribble Drive" Motion Offense
By Lee DeForest, Basketball Coaches Club

The Memphis Tigers style “Dribble Motion” Offense was described by Head Basketball Coach John Calipari as the “Princeton Offense” on steroids. While the comparison is a stretch, this basketball offense is highly effective with a perimeter-oriented team because it depends more upon the basketball skills of the individual players than a typical man offense. There are very few basketball screens in this offense and the post touches are from reversals or from drive/dump situations. Derrick Rose, a future NBA lottery pick, led his team to the national championship playing the point guard position.

[Related: High School Basketball Playbook]


Memphis Tigers YouTube basketball practice drills

ATTACK - Point Guard initiates the action with a dribble move in the breakdown zone and the other offensive players make necessary reads off him.

BREAKDOWN ZONE - Area where you must decide if you are going to rack or drop; dribble moves here; attack elbows to rim if possible

DROP ZONE - Look for:1) Backdoor, 2) Pitchback, and 3) Flash from Post

RACK IT - Area past the drop zone where you must get to the basket looking for shot or pass to post "GAP CUT" under the basket

2 SIDE - side that the #2 always starts on; prefer lefty for middle attack

3 SIDE - side that the #3 always starts on

Early Fast Break Lanes

Player #2 runs right side to corner

Player #5 runs to rim

Player #3 runs to left corner

Player #4 trails opposite of #1

Player #1 pushes on the dribble, passes ahead if he has numbers, a wide open shot, or a clear driving lane for the #2 or #3

LOOP CUT - When an offensive player with the ball gets in the drop zone (#1), the offensive player in the corner makes a straight cut/read out of the corner and the ball is passed to this man (#2).

Player #5 and #3 lift high to elbow and free throw line extended

Emphasis on "jump stops" every time when passing to the cutter

Player #1 ALWAYS has the option to attack the RACK ZONE for a lay-up

The offensive player that passed the ball makes a "loop cut" and replaces the offensive player he passed the ball to.

This opens the court for the following options: 1) Middle attack to #3/fill and replace trying to get to RACK ZONE, 2) Middle attack to #5/GAP CUT under the rim, and 3) Middle attack to #4/BREAKDOWN ZONE

Player #2 attacks the middle of the floor with a dribble move. Player #2 has the option to attack baseline side for the drive/kick to #1 or dump pass to #5 OR pass to #3 in the corner for the three point shot. Also can pass to #4 then replace high.

On middle drive, #5 GAP CUTS under the rim for the drop pass

On middle drive, #3 fills the FT line extended for the shot/drive. Player #2 would replace #3 in the corner on the pass.

KEY COACHING POINTS: Landing on two feet on the catch and rip/explode to the middle is option number one.

We are not trying to dribble laterally-try to get to the rim. These basketball reads are if you have been stopped by their basketball man defense... Remember, this is a Dribble MOTION offense, not a set play

On pass to #3, #2 fills the corner spot. Drive/Kick options continue with reads from where the ball handler gets to with the basketball.

This is a nasty feature of the Memphis version of the dribble drive offense. Pretend that you have Derrick Rose at the #4 position with CDR at the #2 position and Dozier at the #5 position. Rose would get into the lane, X5 would step over to help and Rose would toss the ball near the rim for Dozier to hammer... Nice job coach! Back to reality...

The key here is to land on two feet and set a type of brush screen into the defense to create a lane for the drive. From here if the #4 man cannot get to the RACK ZONE then the ball is passed to the 1 in the corner and the Dribble Motion continues.

Player #4 has the option for #5, #1, or #3 when the ball is driven hard at the rim.

QUICK 4 -This is an option when the #1 attacks the middle from the basic set. Player #1 jump stops in the pass of #4's defender while #4 replaces #1. Player #4 fills behind and #1 pitches to #4.

Player #4 tries to get to the RACK ZONE for the lay-up or pass/lob to #5 for the finish.

Player #4 can also pass the ball to the #2 coming out of the corner.

Player #1 replaces #4 man's drive - called a "European" cut by Coach Don Meyer - often #1 will be open if #4 will jump-stop and reverse pivot then pass to #1 for the 3-point basket

BASIC SET - Same attack principles, but #2 receives pass from #1 and loops #4

Player #2 looks for shot and then drives ball to the middle of the court.

Player #5 dives back opposite block and #4 replaces behind #1 looking for the "pitch back" pass

Player #4 looks to drive/kick back to #2

Player #5 goes opposite and under block

Player #1 comes out of corner a few steps

Player #3 comes two steps out of corner for skip pass

Player #2 replaces #4

Same options as before, continue to dribble penetrate.

BACK DRIBBLE - Player #1 back dribbles then #4 rotates to set a ball screen - many times Memphis will slip this screen or the #1 will simply refuse the screen and attack the lane line again. If the #1 refuses to use the ball screen, we are in the same motion options as before.

However, if #1 uses the screen, #4 man slips it and then replaces the 1 spot.

Player #3 cuts hard backdoor or DROPS as #1 attacks the DROP ZONE with the basketball

Player #5 GAP CUTS under the basket for the bounce pass if defender leaves to help

Player #2 comes 2 steps out the corner. The Memphis Motion Offense continues...

Player #5 cuts hard to elbow

Player #4 replaces #3

Player #1 pitches back to #2. The Memphis Motion Offense continues...

Player #2 looks for the shot then drives the ball hard to the RACK ZONE again (similar motion again)

Player #5 goes under to opposite block for pass/lob

Player #1 replaces #2

Player #4 comes out of the corner one step

Player #3 comes out of the corner two steps. The Memphis Motion Offense is reset from this point.

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Coach John Calipari
"The only thing I pay attention to with free throws is what a guy does in the final four minutes of a game. If you can improve players' self-esteem and confidence, get them to relax, teach visualization and routine, they will shoot as well, or better, with the pressure on." -- Coach John Calipari
Coach Pat Riley
"Unless you learn to manage the aftereffects of winning, the forces that led your team to the top will turn around and destroy you." -- Coach Pat Riley
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