Virginia Cavaliers Mover-Blocker Offense

By Randy Sherman

Much of the talk from college basketball fans and media this season has been about the Kentucky Wildcats and their pursuit of an undefeated season. Rightfully so, John Calipari’s crew has a chance to make history.

However, the team that I get asked more about than any other team by coaches is the Virginia Cavaliers. Coaches are enamored with their defensive approach and their overall “team” concept.

With no McDonald’s All-Americans on their roster Virginia (28-1, 16-1 ACC) has now won back-to-back outright Atlantic Coast Conference titles. They are the first team from outside of the state of North Carolina to do so.

The Cavs’ defense is a treasure. By using packline principles that were invented by his father Dick Bennett, Virginia head coach Tony Bennett has built a team that leads the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency.  But Virginia did not make it to 28-1 without a sound offensive philosophy to match their suffocating defense.

Bennett again borrows from his father and uses the Mover-Blocker motion offense. It is a motion offense that uses two screeners, or “blockers” as they are called in the Virginia system, and three “movers.” In the photo below the movers are circled in red and the blockers in black.


The Cavaliers most often use the Lane-Lane mode of the Mover-Blocker offense. These are the concepts of this mode of the offense.


  • The three “movers” (colored in pink in diagram) cut and fill maintaining top-side-side alignment. The point and each wing should be filled by the movers.
  • In “lane-lane” the blockers are restricted to screening along the lane line extended for the movers. They can set flare screens for a player cutting off the point, they can set pin screens for cutters exiting the lane. They can downscreen for movers.
  • Anytime a mover pin screens along the lane lane, he/she then immediately buries their man and posts up
  • Blockers cannot change sides of the the floor or screen for one another
  • Think of it as a game of 3-on-3 among the movers and their defenders with screening help from the blockers along the lane line
  • Movers center the basketball with the dribble so the ball can see both actions.
  • This is not a patterned offense! The actions diagrammed below are possible actions that exist within the framework of the offense. Movers are given license to move and read the defense so long as they maintain top-side-side alignment.

In the video below note how the Cavaliers follow these offensive principles. The blockers set screens along the lane line as the movers cut and maintain top-side-side alignment.

The movers demonstrate curls, out cuts and read the defense in the screening action.

At times, Virginia allows one of their blockers to screen from midline to sideline on his side of the floor. This is the “Lane-Wide” mode.

In the lane-wide alignment of the Mover Blocker offense, there is one lane screener just as in lane-lane. There is a wide screener that can screen from midline to sideline on his/her side of the floor. It is a good way to add spacing to the offense, utilize a skilled forward and add more variety to the screening options


  • Lane Blocker must remain on his/her side of the floor and screen for movers ONLY along the lane line.
  • Wide Blocker can set up inside or outside and can screen from midline to sideline on their side of the court. They should screen and separate and play outside the three-point line.
  • Movers pass and cut and maintain top-side-side alignment while using screens from the blockers. READ the defense, curl, back cut and out cut depending on how the defense covers the screening action
  • This is not a patterned offense! Players play within the rules and concepts. Below are a few of the many possible actions.

LaneWideIn the video below, #11 Evan Nolte is the “wide” screener. Note how he utilizes the entire width of the court from midline to sideline on his side.

The “lane” blocker remains along the lane line and screens from there on his side of the floor. Nolte has shooting range and better ball handling skills, therefore he is allowed greater freedom as the wide blocker.

There are more elements to the Virginia offense and we will be presenting those in up coming posts.

Before implementing the Mover Blocker offense, players should have a sound grasp of motion offense fundamentals such as basket cuts, down screens and reading the defense. Virginia certainly works on the skill and timing of these motion offense concepts everyday.

Be sure to check out all the information on motion offense fundamentals that FastModel has to offer.


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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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  1. Pete said:

    Great article. Anyone run this 4 out 1 in? Or would that be lane wide version? Thoughts?

  2. Randy Sherman said:

    Virginia’s version of four-out would be “lane-wide.”
    For a similar concept of designating screeners and cutters in a four-out offense check out the motion offense series on this site.

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