1-4 to Score: Disguise Offensive Sets Using 1-4 High Alignment

By Rory Hamilton

1-4 High Kansas

The 1-4 High alignment is one of the best ways to begin offense as it offers so many options, and works vs both man and zone defenses.

Summer is almost over and coaches across the country are preparing for the start of the 19-20 basketball season.  Coaches use this time to analyze, modify, and adjust offensive and defensive schemes for their team.

In this post, we are going to look at some offensive schemes using the 1-4 high alignment to attack both man and zone defenses with scoring options for guards and posts.

The 1-4 high has been used by many successful coaches over the years and it has many advantages:

  1.  Spacing. The 1-4 high provides the point guard four potential receivers when initiating offense similar to the commonly used 4-across press break.  If you are a team that lacks a true point guard, the 1-4 high will make it easier for your team to run offense.
  2. Backdoor opportunities. Bringing all five players above the FT line creates great backdoor opportunities for your team.
  3. Isolation opportunities. Whether it be a post up for your point guard, a baseline drive by a wing player, or a pick and roll with your two post players, the 1-4 gives you the flexibility to get your best player in position to be successful.
  4. Disguising set offense. The 1-4 allows you to run multiple plays out of the same set which makes it more difficult for your opponents to scout.
  5. Distorts any zone. Regardless if it is an odd front or even front zone, the 1-4 distorts the zone by placing 4 players in each gap of the zone.
  6. Continuity. If you are a coach that likes to run continuity on offense, the 1-4 makes it simple with a wing option, post option, and dribble option.  All you have to do is find a wing, post, and dribble option that best suits your team and personnel.

Set-up Game

Once you have decided to incorporate the 1-4 high into your offensive package next season, one of the first questions you need to answer is how you will get your players to the 1-4 set. If you start in the 1-4, it may be easier for the defense to take away the entry pass. I recommend what we call a “set-up” game, which is a group of various types of actions that end up with players in the 1-4 high alignment. The diagrams below show different “set-up” game options. Click to download the diagram to FastDraw.

1-4 Continuity Offense 

Once you have picked out a “set-up” game, you can now build your 1-4 continuity offense.  All you need to do is pick one wing, one dribble, and one post option.  Here is where you can be creative as the c and pick sets that best fit your personnel.  The only thing you need to do is make sure all of your options flow back nicely to the 1-4 high set.  Here is my favorite wing, post, and dribble options:

1-4 Isolation Plays

Occasionally, there comes time in a game where you need your best player(s) to make a play. Here are a few of my favorite isolation plays out of the 1-4 set.

1-4 Sweep

Sweep is a play to run if for a post player that can put the ball on the floor and get to the hoop. Sweep looks to clear out a side allowing a post player to attack the rim or kick out to a shooter in the corner.

1-4 Phoenix

Phoenix is a play I saw run years ago with the Phoenix Suns when they had Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire. The basic premise is to run a middle pick and roll with two post players, while spacing the floor with shooters. If you’re lucky enough to have a post player that can catch lobs or attack the rim off the dribble, then this is a great play to add to your playbook.

1-4 Kansas

Kansas is a play where you can get your point guard isolated on one side of the floor and run your best shooter off an elevator screen.  It is the point guards responsibility to ready how the defense is playing the elevator screen.  If both post players are hugging their men and looking to either help or  switch out on the screen, the point then drives the ball baseline looking to score or hit the opposite guard in the corner.

1-4  Zone Offense 

As mentioned earlier, the 1-4 alignment distorts any zone. I remember listening to Hall of Fame coach Hubie Brown speak at a clinic on zone offense years ago. He said, “You don’t need great player movement versus a zone if you have great alignment,” and went on to demonstrate how the 1-4 High look can be used to create quick scoring opportunities.  I’ve used this zone offense for over 10 years now with plenty of success.

1-4 ATO Quick Hitters

Here are a few of my favorite quick hitters out of a 1-4 set.

1-4 Rip

This is a play I saw Kevin Stallings run at Vanderbilt several years ago. It has several scoring options and uses misdirection to take advantage of good help defense teams. Personally, I like set plays that have an inside option as well as an outside option.

1-4 Chin

This may be my favorite play because it incorporates several actions that are difficult to defend: shuffle cut, screen-the-screener, roll/replace, and a staggered screen for a shooter.

1-4 Michigan State

Nobody utilizes the 1-4 high alignment better than Tom Izzo. This play has been a staple of his offensive playbook for many years.

1-4 Husky

Husky is a great play to use against an even front zone. It aims to set screens on each of the top two defenders in order to create a quick 2-on-1 advantage on the weak side of the zone.

I hope these offensive concepts and plays will help you better disguise your offensive system next year. If you have any great 1-4 plays or concepts you would like to share, please contact me at hamiltonr@norman.k12.ok.us or follow me on Twitter @twolveshoops. Happy Hoopin!


More content from Coach Hamilton: All Plays & Drills | All Blog Posts | Attacking a Match-up Zone | Man-to-Man Defense Series

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Rory Hamilton

Rory Hamilton

Rory Hamilton has 21 years of basketball coaching experience at the collegiate and high school level. Coach Hamilton is the current girls basketball coach at Norman North High School. In 5 years his team has posted a 85-49 record, won four mid-season tournament titles and appeared in five 6A area tournaments. In 2019, Norman North won the silver ball losing in the 6A state championship game to Norman High School. Coach Hamilton was named Central Oklahoma Conference girls coach of the year along with earning Oklahoma Girls Basketball Coaches Association Large Class All-State coach. Prior to Norman North, he served as the head girls coach at Mount St. Mary Catholic High School in Oklahoma City, OK. In seven years at MSM, he posted a 108-75 record and is the winningest girls coach in school history. Coach Hamilton led the Rockets to three consecutive 4A state tournament appearances. In 2011-2012, the Rockets had a 20-7 record and made it to the state tournament for the first time in school history. The next year in 2012-2013, the Rockets posted a 25-6 record and earned the silver ball, losing in the 4A state championship game to Fort Gibson. In 2013-2014, the Rockets posted a 23-7 record and lost to Anadarko in the 4A state tournament semifinals. Coach Hamilton was named Central Oklahoma Conference coach of the year three times and was selected to coach the Little All-City all-star game three consecutive years from 2012-2014. Coach Hamilton has coached 6 NCAA Division 1 players, 6 NCAA Division II players and several playing at the NAIA and NJCAA levels.
1-4 High Kansas
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