• On another thread there was some discussion of the FLAT FOUR observed in the WUGs, as if it were something new to understand.

    Interestingly, the FLAT FOUR, i.e., four across the baseline and a point guard out front, is the original starting formation for Iba’s High Low way back in 1964 and for Dean’s and Larry’s elaboration of it at UNC into the Carolina passing offense in 1965.

    Think of the Flat Four as the ancient symmetric I-formation of High Low Basketball offense before the Flat Four shifts into one of several possible less balanced formations (e.g., in football the I-Formation shifts into the split T, the wing t, the power I formation, the slot I, wing I, the shot gun, and so on–note also that the shot gun is the latest base formation in many football offenses and they shift out of it, too).

    In the High Low, the FLAT FOUR shifts into a variety of formations with three combos and 2 posts positioned variously.

    The method of the high low offense is to do mostly the same things out of different looks, though as common sense suggests, various spots on the floor occupied by different types of players enable certain kinds of advantage more than others.

    The FLAT FOUR is where UNC under Dean always lined up and started from for quite a few years. By lining up in the FLAT FOUR, your guys get to run to their spots and hopefully beat their defenders to those spots. Where the spots are that they run to (the shift formations) depends on the match-ups they have and wish to exploit versus another team.

    Alternatively, your players can stay in their FLAT FOUR and a point guard out front can drive to the rim and which ever defender comes to help, then the point guard can dish to that teammate left unattended. This stunningly simple action out of this FLAT FOUR is surprisingly, almost maddeningly effective, IF your point guard can usually get by the man defending him out front.

    The most familiar “shift” out of the FLAT FOUR is into two high wings to go with the point guard out front in the familiar three man perimeter. Along with this the two post men run to high and low blocks, or to a low block and a high post out between the free throw line and the top of the free throw circle. The post men can also line up low on opposite sides of the lane, or overload one side of the lane, or set up high on opposite sides of the lane.

    Another shift might see the four out and one in formation, where a 4 and 2 park on one side of the perimeter around the trey stripe, and a 3 and a 1 park on the other side of the perimeter at the trey stripe. This is essentially two guards out front, and a stretch 4 and a 3 as “low wings.” The 5 might set up at the FT, or on a low block.

    Another shift might see the 2, 3, 4 and 5 spread fully to four corners while the 1 starts out front but quickly moves toward the free throw line and passes out to one of the four corners, then runs back out to the front to receive a pass to repeat and so stall. This is Dean’s formation for his classic four corners stall. Again, maddeningly simple and effective.

    Further, one can start out in any of these “shift” formations, and then shift into any of the other formations, or even back into the FLAT FOUR, as circumstances and match-ups encourage.

    The idea is two fold: use shifts to give your guys an advantage in getting to the spots before their defender can, and keep your opponents from getting too familiar with what you are about to do.

    Put another way, all of these “starting” formations, and all of the “shift” formations are just ways of getting your players to the spots on the floor where you have think you hold greatest “on-the-spot” advantage, if you can get their first. Also, its easier to pass to some one coming to a spot, rather than to someone that has been standing on it for 10 seconds with a defender hanging on him.

    Whether one starts and stays in the a formation, or starts in one and shifts to another, then just one of three things happen:

    a.) you pass the ball to try to over shift the defense so as to create an impact space; or

    b.) you run action, usually some kind of pick away, or a ball screen, etc.; or

    c.) you let someone go one on one and create their own shot.

    Self likes to do A first.

    Then Self likes to vary doing B, or C, if A does not get someone open.

    Doing A, i.e., passing the ball to overshift a defense is actually the heart and soul of the High Low Offense that Iba invented and that Dean and Larry (and Bill Guthridge, too) developed into a widely copied offense.

    Not that the two posts, and the formations are NOT the distinguishing characteristics of the High Low Offense aka as the Carolina Passing Offense.

    The distinguishing characteristic is the primary reliance on passing to create open looks, and the conscious, systematic division of passing (aka ball movement) into perimeter passing and in-out passing as the two means of overshifting defenses into leaving open looks.

    The principle is simple: a defender cannot move as fast as a passed ball.

    The corollary is: a defender sliding side ways may be able to cut off a passed ball one direction, but he cannot possibly recover on ball reversal, unless he hedges way out into the passing lane to force the pass far deeper, in which case the next pass can go inside, which forces all players to fall back, which leaves a man open for a kick out. It is maddeningly simple. And can be maddeningly effective with highly athletic players that can pass well.

    Note also, and perhaps most importantly in the sense of Grand Strategy, that deforming defenses with passing is the low effort way to create open shots, and being the low effort way to do it, leaves one to expend lots more energy on defense, rather than offense.

    Think about this for a moment, for it is vital to understand because it reveals why the High Low Offense aka the Carolina Passing Offense will always over time be the most desirable and enduring offense, whether or not it is played with two post men, or two power forwards, or just one in and four out, or whatever.

    Pay attention now.

    Iba realized that no matter how much energy one expends on offense, one still only gets the points of a basket and/or a FT.

    It seems so simple.

    But its simplicity obscures the brilliant depth of the insight.

    If you only get a basket no matter how much effort you put into scoring, then what you ought to do is put the least energy into getting that basket you can. If you put in one more ounce of effort than is absolutely necessary, you are essentially wasting your energy budget.

    Now think about this: where on the court can increasing expenditures of effort buy you more scoring, or at least more chances to score?

    Answer: on defense.

    Now do you see why Self believes in expending maximum energy on defense…why he says offense starts with defense, why Self is constantly exhorting his players to play harder on defense, when the team struggles? For a given ounce of energy, one can lower an opponent’s FG percentage more than one can raise one’s own FG percentage.

    In fact, the more you pass the ball around the perimeter and in and out of the paint, the less you run around and bang around, and so the more energy you have for defense.

    All offenses running lots of constant motion and action, especially the Princeton, are bound to lose the energy budget game to the High Low Offense. Self will tend to be able to expend more of his energy budget on defense than a Princeton team can expend on its defense. A good passing team beats a good action team, if the defenses are equal. It is so brutally stochastically biased in favor of the High Low Offense that one wonders how folks ever got off the beaten path into “high action” offenses in the first place.

    The more energy you expend on defense, the more you reduce the FG percentage of the other team and so the more stops you get. The more stops you get, the more chances you get to score. Elementary my dear Watsons.

    If you could raise your offensive FG percentage (or PPP) more by expending more energy than you can lower your opponent’s FG percentage by expending more energy on defense, then of course you would expend more energy on offensive action. But playing conventionally, i.e., shooting about the same percentage of treys and twos as your opponent, you are a damned fool to run anything but the high low passing offense, and its many variations. Over time, given equal talent, you will prevail by expending more energy on defense than your action running opponent can afford to expend.

    Self will not rely so heavily on BAD BALL in the future (unless injury and lack of talent were to force him to again), because there is an underlying energy budget problem with BAD BALL. It expends too much energy on offense, unless one holds the ball most of the shot clock to hold down the trips, so that 4 out of 5 of your best guys can rest on the court before one attacks. But that really messes with players’ minds and gets them out of attack mode.

    Self will go back to a passing offense as surely as night follows day in a 30 second clock.

    Never the less he did learn some important lessons in the WUGs about the positive psychological benefits (scoring confidence) of letting players get on with attacking and with limiting the amount of reads they have to make.

    Frankly, if I were Self, I would rely on passing EVEN MORE and action even less under the 30 second clock with the widened lanes.

    And I would rely more on players creating shots almost entirely and use designed action EVEN MORE SPARINGLY THAN IN THE PAST. Maybe only use action after time outs, or after a made FT, or what have you.

    KU’s players played and shot confidently under the 24 second with few reads and almost no action.

    Thus, Self should use the passing offense to create a 24 second possession and then play it like they did under WUG rules and see how it works.

    I suspect it will work great.

    But old habits die hard, as I indicated yesterday in another post.

    All for now.

  • @jaybate-1.0 I love reading your posts about offense and defense, just helps me learn man, I love it. Keep it coming!

  • @Lulufulu

    Wrong. I haven’t read @jaybate-1.0’s most recent pontification but he is clearly a mouthpiece for ShoeCo bent on brainwashing everyone to wear his new line of @jaybate-1.0 sneakers!!!

  • @VailHawk Rolling! 😆

  • @VailHawk

    The private basketball oligarchy that has selected the US Basketball governing bodies, ordered it to create the BIA, and after my attendance at Basketball Bilderburg’s annual meeting, picked yours truly, @jaybate 1.0, to head the BIA, has asked me to pass on to you, @VailHawk, their highest award given to BIA assets embedded in mainstream media and in independent board rat media, also, for practicing the best black art disinformation in naming the BIA director himself, @jaybate 1.0, as a mouthpiece for the Big Shoe-Big Agent Complex, and asks that you next write that you, @VailHawk are a mouthpiece for Big Media-Big Gaming. This the private basketball oligarchy believes will complete a one-two punch of black propaganda that will so completely deceive fans and board rats that a crisis of confidence will ensue sufficient to allow the COB (aka Continuity of Basketball shadow basketball governing body) to justify declaration of martial basketball law and justify the suspension of dually instituted NCAA operation and indefinite replacement of the NCAA by the COB. The attorneys of the holding companies for the private basketball oligarchy have drawn up the papers for such a take over five years ago and have had them waiting for just such a fortuitous moment. The private basketball oligarchy and COB are about to enlist the services of former congressman Paul Ronn to begin speaking out to warn basketball fans of an imminent basketball currency crisis in hopes that Ronn’s comments will in fact actually trigger the designed basketball currency crisis as part of a move to overthrow the NCAA and subordinate its member institutions to new central bank centric Division I ruled under martial basketball law by the COB apparatus under ground somewhere in Maryland, and with redundant facilities under Groom Lake in Area 51.6666666.

    (Note: all fiction. No malice.)

  • @jaybate-1.0 Were you just speaking english? 😄

  • @Lulufulu

    Yes, and I’m so awfully glad you caught the fun I was having. The accent I wittily affected for the amusement of others is an imitation of a recent dialect of our beloved tongue that I like to call NeoCon/NeoLib/Bilderburg Gibberenglish. Can’t you just hear the Round Table crowd and MI-5/6 in the background and subtext?

    The trick of imitating it is to combine the subtle, amusing, slightly arrogant indirectness of the Oxford diction with the deliberately crude directness, and sacrifice of elegance for cumbersome, self-conscious techno-speak of American Bureaucratic English. It is such a tricky balancing act, you know. It is dreadfully difficult imitating appropriated languages, but, WELL, a board rat’s gotta technically do what a board rat’s gotta technically do. 🙂

    The OED has not yet written up its derivation, at least, to my knowledge, but I have a sneaking hunch that its derivation is rather similar to the Oxford English contrived in Britain in the second half of the 19th Century, as part of its drive to create an English accent for those primarily engaged in the Crown’s imperial enablement at home and abroad.

    Carry on. 🙂

  • Seriously.jpg

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    Funny, that’s how your writing makes me feel when you are trying your very best to be clear.


    You remain an incomparably easy tweak.

    Why don’t you just be nice, when you are so challenged? Eh?

    Double Howl!

  • @jaybate-1.0



  • @JayHawkFanToo


    Funny, that’s how your writing makes me feel when you are trying your very best to be clear.


    You remain an incomparably easy tweak.

    Why don’t you just be nice, when you are so challenged? Eh?

    Double Howl!

  • I love it when you resort to graphics.

    It is an admission of limitation that delights me.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    I sure get into your head, don’t I?


  • @JayHawkFanToo

    I love it, when you expose yourself this way.

    What was it @HighEliteMajor said about you again?

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    I love it.

    Everyone gets to see how the game works.

    Keep it up @JayHawkFanToo.

    We keep seeing which subjects set you off.

    And the technique of response.

    It is VERY interesting.

    Thanks in advance.

    Triple howling. 🙂

  • If you want loyalty get a dog; better yet, get two just in case one turns on you.–@JayHawkFanToo

    Remember that ALWAYS when dealing with me.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Is that all you got? Keep it coming…

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    That’s all I need.

    I just sit here an laugh and watch you shoot yourself in the cloven hoof.


  • @JayHawkFanToo

    @jaybate-1.0 > @JayHawkFanToo . Pure, simple logic.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Seriously, what was it that @HighEiteMajor wrote to you recently?

    That was hysterical.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Weak sauce…you can do better…

  • @Lulufulu said:

    @jaybate-1.0 > @JayHawkFanToo . Pure, simple logic.

    All this better than stuff is in YOUR head, not mine.

    All these sensitive subjects are in your head, not mine.

    All those macho challenges are in your head, not mine.

    I am a peaceful, loving board rat.

    I just don’t have it in me to post attack graphics.

    It would be bad form and disrespectful of the forum.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    No, no, no, I am not doing anything here other than being amused and having some fun with your attack graphics.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Oh c’mon…do like Avis does…try harder…

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    Why? When you do it for me?

    By the way, why do you use attack graphics?

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Surely you can come up with something better…

  • @jaybate-1.0 I was only trying to push Jayhawkfantoo’s buttons, merely joking.

  • @JayHawkFanToo


    There you go again.

    Hung up on first and second.

    Hmm, we may be getting somewhere here.

    But the question remains: why does @JayHawkFanToo use what appears to be attack graphics?

  • @Lulufulu

    Do you know why @JayHawkFanToo appears to use attack graphics?

  • @jaybate-1.0 Overcompensating for something perhaps?

  • @jaybate-1.0 I dunno. Im gonna go watch a movie, or maybe a rerun of KUSA

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Giving up so soon?

  • I am going to be bold here and unilaterally wish everyone a nice day, and withdraw to go fishing.

    I have nothing but love for everyone here including @JayHawkFanToo, even though I wish his alias felt better.

    I really don’t know why what appears to be attack graphics are being resorted to, but I guess if it helps one work through some thing or other, well, an alias has gotta do what an alias has gotta do.

    Rock Chalk!

  • 🙂

  • @jaybate-1.0 I missed out on all the fireworks on this thread, but one questions haunts me - how did the fishing go? A friend of mine sent me a picture yesterday, her, her mother and another person I don’t know were holding 3 stringers of probably 25 catfish. Nice ones! I’m expecting a fish fry in the very near future…

  • @nuleafjhawk

    Not so hot. As I was making my sneak out, rod and ancient Plano in hand, my better half informed there were domestic and home improvement obligations with higher priority, so the fish got a reprieve. 😄

  • @ jaybate

    The whole of idea of expending more energy on D and less on O is good, however the high-low scheme of passing it around the perimeter to get to third side for the open shot has flaws beyond the energy savings of the players. It means that the TEAM has to score and not the play makers: great for D, great for learning the meaning of teamwork and locker room vibe and reducing the diva mindset, but not great for optimum O at crunch time.

    The ability to play as a team on O and pass well takes time and training and learning and intelligence and skill. In the OAD and TAD era, this is not always availabl year in and year out.

    With inferior or equal talent, yes it can compensate and beat better teams. But with equal or superior talent it is less effective than dribble-drive, penetrate and pitch, practicing making a play during the entire year so that at tourney time, the play makers are not over-passing. This is the weakness in the KU offensive scheme which depends entirely too much on system offense and the ability of the team to score rather than teaching the play-makers to play one-on-one, or a two man game (pick and roll and pick and pop).

    The result is that in crunch time our guys will run a play to score rather than go get a basket with pure talent and ability. Or they will panic at crunch time and force the action because they have not been playing that way all year long. We have seen this scenario play out multiple times at the end of the year, and over the years of the Self era.

    This is also in my opinion why we over perform during the regular season and under perform in the Big Dance.

    The offense needs to open up more and worry less about shot creation by running great stuff, and focus on getting MORE shots, more O rebounds, more athletic play outside of a set scheme. We now have better athletes and better players than the Tulsa teams of years past!

    My feeling is that Coach Self is learning this lesson at a slow and steady pace but we are not yet at our optimum level on O and the high-low “run my stuff to get a shot” is part of the problem. The best example was Wigs last year who was incapable of carrying the team at crunch time because he was a cog in a wheel and not the alpha dog who was trained to take over the game. Look what happened in his rookie season in the League.

    We need to play faster on O, take more threes, attack incessantly, be better dribblers and run LESS stuff, not more and better stuff. We all love KU BB. our coaches and tradition, but the idea of passing more on O is not the path to greater success on that side of the ball.

    Bad ball on D, but creative freer and more individual play on O.


  • @jayhawk-007

    The point of high-low is you get to exploit all of your athleticism at crunch time with more energy when you put it on the deck and go, AFTER passing to create the space, rather than congesting space with a dribble drive ball screen. And this is in fact what hAppens almost every trip, when a Self team has a credible low post presence AND credible wing threats and an experienced point guard.

    God only knows what Self’s high low would do with a Derek Rose, Marcus Teague grade point guard. Self has never been able to sign an OAD point guard.

    Ku’s problem last year was no low post presence worth passing into, so opponents over guarded the perimeter which forced Self into Bad Ball driving inside.

    Self’s High Low beat the Dribble Drive with Derek Rose, CDR, and a low post draft choice. Cal had the only future dominant pro on his side and lost.

    Cal has been squandering OADs and TADs in record numbers with the dribble drive. It is a strategically unsound offense.

    Ollie won a ring with the High-Low with only one top player at PG.

    Self won the WUG with the high low without running any action at all.

    There is little question any more that the High Low is the best flexible-formation core offense going.

    Knight and Coach K and their motion offense have won more, but they have had to hold most of the aces to win big. Knight without the aces couldn’t Match Self’s .82 w&l. Coach K has failed to win conference titles and sustain a high w&l with THE MOTION, when his talent fell off too.

    Passing beats screening over the long haul and leaves more juice for defense.

    It seems proven to me now, after the flexibility the offense showed in the WUGs.

    But others still cling to the hope for a better offense.

    Defense, great guard play, and OAD footers are the trumps in the Madness.

    No offense can overcome the lack of these created by recruiting, seeding, and refereeing asymmetry.

    But it’s not surprising to me that most coaches wind up Copying Self’s offensive schemes.

  • Good response, Mr Jaybate.

    I feel the KU offense has been stagnate and the lane has been clogged and the offensive scheme (high-low) is partly to blame in the Self era. I feel that Coach Self is one of the very, very best but is somewhat stale and uncreative on O.

    Furthermore, one of the reasons we have not landed a Rose or Teague quality point guard is our offensive scheme (who wants to come to KU to “feed the post and take a charge as a resume to a future NBA career?”).

    The whole point of the WUG success is that we did NOT run the high-low and we were playing freer and better on O, and GREAT (as usual) on D. Part of it was due to Nic being on the team, and his fearlessness. But also not being coached to play within the system. Larry Brown is better at this than Bill Self.

    I respectfully disagree with this phrase:

    There is little question any more that the High Low is the best flexible-formation core offense going.italicised text

    I fully agree with this phrase:

    Defense, great guard play, and OAD footers are the trumps in the Madness.italicised text

    Coach Self is the BEST, but I would like to see a more open offense, more free flowing play, more risk taking, less inhibition (afraid to be benched for not running the stuff), more threes early in the shot clock, more forcing the action on the fast break, more secondary break, more one-on-one, more O rebounds and points on missed shots early in the clock b/c the opponent’s D is not set, etc.

    Playing bad ball is good if you have less talent and less speed and less ability to score and rebound. It is not good as a standard scheme to allow us win another title with the talent and raw ability that we are now bringing into the program.

    I think Coach Self is one of the best defensive minds and recruiters and program builders and university representers and overall leaders in all of college basketball. Maybe even THE BEST.

    But I do not think he is a great offensive mind and I do not feel he has great offensive minds on his staff.

    We can and should go better on that side of the ball.

    I respectfully believe that we have underachieved offensively and that the key to becoming a truly elite program is sustainable success in The Dance. And that success in The Dance is largely dependent on our ability to play better offense at crunch time.

    It is hard to do in crunch time if that is not the way you have been playing all year.


  • @jayhawk-007

    Oh, absolutely I believe we were running the high-low, or more accurately the Carolina passing offense, or more accurately, what evolved into what Dean called “Multiple Offenses.”


    Dean, Gutt and LB reputedly evolved it early.

    But many disciples joined in over time.

    Start with Iba’s High Low.

    Add Dean Smith action taken from Bruce Drake’s Shuffle offense being run by the coach at Air Force when Dean assisted there.

    Add in any other kinds of action that surface from time to time.

    Shake well and pour.

    Self never stops running it. He apparently learned some of it from Paul Hansen. He says he learned some from LB. He apparently learned some from Eddie. He apparently learned more of it from his assistants that have worked with Hartman and Haskins.

    He just runs it out of different formations and with less or more passing, and with less or more action, and with different kinds of action.

    One of the problems board rats have with the High Low is that they think it is only 3 combos and two posts lined up in the 3 man perimeter and the two posts in the lane.

    Not correct IMHO.

    The Multiple Offense aka Dean’s Carolina passing offense is operating when Perry plays on the low block, or on a high block, or at the top of the circle, or as a low wing outside.

    Notice Self calls Perry a stretch 4 when he is going outside and shooting it or creating from there. He doesn’t call it another offense.

    It helps me to think about it in terms of a basic formation (what some are calling the Four Flat) and shifts because I played a little football when I was a kid.

    If you read Dean’s old book and the section on multiple offense he makes it crystal clear. He had a keen mind and he didn’t waste words.


    Regarding you notion that Self can’t recruit point guards and centers because of his system, well, ummm, I kind of bought into that early on, but once the top centers started turning him down in droves despite his bigs doing well in the pros and despite him winning a ring, and despite KU having the rep of Big Man U, well, I finally had to awaken to the possibility of other more fitting explanations. 🙂

    So: what I did was I looked around and said where were these top centers going?

    I did not see them going to better coaches.

    And I did not see them going to programs that necessarily produced better more successful pros bigs.

    And so I kind of ruled those drivers out.

    What did that leave?

    Well, there had to be some kind of incentives involved.

    At first in my naivety, I figure it was cash under the table.

    But then I read some books about business of college basketball and about Big Shoe.

    It wasn’t as simple as cash in the palm, or a key in the hand and a typed note with an address and a safe deposit box number.

    No, the game had scaled up and changed and there were Petro-ShoeCos and agents and agent runners that I had not known anything about.

    I still don’t really understand how it all works.

    All I can say is that I more or less doubt that Bill Self’s offense is the pivotal driver for keeping OAD centers and OAD point guards away.

    But I don’t believe in any conspiracy theories I have ever heard involving basketball recruiting.

    So far, I believe most everything that is driving the apparent asymmetries in recruiting is likely legal and just not very transparent for some reason. I suspect those persons on the inside understand very clearly how it all works and would blow the whistle without hesitation if any of it were really illegal, or clear violation of NCAA rules.

    Since they don’t, and since I know of no evidence to the contrary, so far, I can only infer that things are legal and just not very transparent for whatever reasons.

    I suspect in time we will come to understand much better how the system distributes talent as it does.

    But until that time comes, I will have to live with the lack of transparency, and yet also recognize that Bill Self’s offense just doesn’t seem like a very likely driver in all of this.

    Rock Chalk!

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