Plays of the Week – Jan 30, 2015

By Randy Sherman

The flare screen is one of the best actions in basketball. Coaches spend hours drilling pick-and-roll defense and how to handle down screens. But I have found that covering flare screens is an under-taught aspect of basketball.

Some keys to effective flare screens:

  • The screeners back should be pointed to the corner of the court.
  • The cutter sets up the flare screen by first making a basket cut to get his defender to the ball side.
  • The screener should jump stop into the screen and allow the cutter to rub the defender off of him.
  • After you screen, separate!
  • Use verbal cues! The screener should call the cutters name and yell “Flare! Flare!”

  • If the cutter’s defender goes under the flare screen, the screener should change the angle of the screen and the cutter should out cut.
  • If the screener’s man helps too long or too far the screener can slip the flare screen to the basket. Also slip versus switches!
  • If the cutter’s defender chases over the top of the flare, curl the flare all the way to the basket.
  • The passer must bring the ball with the dribble to the flare screen action.
  • If the flare is ineffective or not timed with the ball, rescreen!

These four sets use the flare screen as either primary or secondary tool for freeing a cutter for a scoring option.

Villanova Pick & Roll/Flare Entry


Jay Wright has had great success at Villanova with his 4-Out Motion Offense. It features great spacing and clear screening and cutting rules for guards and post.

The Wildcats most often run their transition offense directly into their motion. At times, however they utilizes specific entries into the offense. Here’s a look at a pick & roll entry they time with a weakside flare screen against the Butler Bulldogs.

Right away you see great 4-out spacing as the post comes to set the ball screen. It is imperative that the player setting the flare screen time the action with the ball as the point guard comes off the ball screen.

The flare screen offers a good shooter and opportunity for a perimeter look. While the cutter is the primary option, the screener often gets the best look when causing his man to help on an effective screen.

In this video we see Villanova use this entry three times with different results each time. The screener gets a good look as a second cutter, the flare results in a layup off a nice two-man game and the cutter gets a shot when his defender goes under the flare. What makes it most effective is the action being timed with the arrival of the ball.

Stanford Triangle Flare


Phil Jackson and the Chicago Bulls made the Triangle Offense famous, but many teams at the college level use all or part of it. Johnny Dawkins, head coach of the Stanford Cardinal, uses this variation of the Triangle.

First, you see the guard to forward pass followed by the corner cut which creates the trademark strong side triangle. The Cardinal have the option of playing through the post here.

On the weakside we see the flare screen variation of the Triangle. The player at the “pinch post” position on the backside elbow sets a flare screen for the guard.

After the flare is set, the pinch post player separates from the screen and receives the pass. Stanford then wants a dribble handoff, but they can read a backdoor cut on the over-play by the defense. In the final frame, Stanford sets a rescreen when the reversal is denied.

Again, the key is timing the flare screen with the action.

Texas Longhorns “Porch” Flare


In this set by Rick Barnes and the Texas Longhorns the flare screen action is more of a secondary option, but the design empties the weakside for a good scoring opportunity from the flare if the defense does not defend it.

The flare screen is just one of the options on this well-constructed set. As Texas has a massive frontline, getting the ball inside is the primary goal.

It begins with a guard running off a baseline staggered screen. This empties a side of the floor. Once the point-to-wing pass is made the 5 sets the flare. The best player to flare screen for is the man who just passed the ball.

There is an opportunity for a lob here, but the “porch” action is the primary target. The “porch” is a man-to-man term for the short corner.

Once 5 catches after separating from the flare screen, there is a post-to-porch downscreen for 3. He can out cut the screen or curl it depending on the read.

The ball can also be entered into the “porch” as you see Texas make a beautiful interior lob. The Longhorns also modify this set for a SLOB play.

“Flip” Entry Versus 2-3 Zone


Flare screening the zone is also an effective tool. By screening the zone you cause a player to come out of his area to defend the ball. This distorts the zone and distorting the zone is one of the central tenets of zone offense.

“Flip” is a great zone set for after a time out or when a three is needed. 2 is the desired shooter and he sets up on the left slot.

1 drives hard at the top piece of the zone on his side and pushes him below the free throw line. He then turns and flips the ball to 3 looping over the top.

Just as in the man-to-man sets, timing the flare screen with the ball is vital. As 3 catches from the flip action, 4 sets the flare screen for 2. This is the primary option.

This forces X4 to close out to the shooter. When he does, 5 is open in the short corner and the defense is in a bind. 4 can slip into the high post after flare screening.

Zone offense is all about knowing who is guarding you and where they came from. Using a flare screen to distort the zone and teaching players to read reactions is very effective

The flare screen is an effective action versus man-to-man or zone. These are a few of the many ways to integrate the flare screen into your offense. If you have any further questions about flare screens or X’s & O’s in general please

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Randy Sherman is the owner and founder of Radius Athletics - a basketball coaching consulting firm - where he consults with basketball coaches at all levels on coaching philosophy, practice planning, Xs & Os and teaching a conceptual style of basketball. While a head basketball coach at the the interscholastic level, Sherman's teams won 197 games in nine seasons.

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