Breakdown: Michigan’s Early Hand Off Action

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My last breakdown was also a hand off series from the Miami Heat. This time I’m looking at the Michigan Wolverines and how Jon Beilein’s team has been attacking their hand off action.

Much like the Heat, Michigan uses the hand off to start quick, aggressive, and early offense. Recently the Wolverines have had exceptional guard play with the likes of Trey Burke, Nik Stauskas, and Caris LeVert. This video, once again courtesy of our friends at Half Court Hoops, shows different ways Michigan has scored out of their hand off action over the last several seasons.

Michigan goes into their hand offs both in transition and in the half court. They attack it with purpose and they’re aggressive looking to score off of it. All of their hand offs push the recipient’s momentum to the middle of the floor, and their spacing allows for the middle to be attacked, which creates problems for the defense.

Michigan
The opposite wing (Caris LeVert) is in the deep corner and two Michigan players are trailing the play. This gives Nik Stauskas, the recipient, open middle space to attack as he receives the hand off.
Michigan hand off
Stauskas attacks the middle and finishes at the rim.

Some of these are your traditional dribble hand offs, like above, when the guard pushes to the ball side corner for a simple exchange. But these do variate, and it’s pretty much just a read and react for Michigan. Sometimes it’s a flip or toss back pass for a trailing shooter, sometimes it’s just drive-and-replace action, and sometimes they set a ball screen right away for the player getting the hand off, like so:

Michigan hand off

Michigan
When Caris LeVert receives the hand off and uses the immediate ball screen, notice the spacing of his teammates which allows him to utilize the two-man game and attack the middle in open space.

Again, most of these plays are just reads and reactions by the players. Here’s one last sequence.

Michigan hand off

LeVert starts in the deep corner and gets a dribble hand off from Derrick Walton Jr. Walton does a great job of attacking LeVert’s defender, which gave LeVert an advantage to drive to the middle of the floor for a paint touch. Nik Stauskas reads the action and his defender, relocates, and shades to the corner for an open look. Even though Illinois’ players did a bad job communicating their help on this sequence (and Stauskas’ defender somehow turned his head on a dead-eye shooter), it was Michigan’s aggressive hand off action that put them in that position, and the Wolverines got themselves a great shot in the first ten seconds of the shot clock.

I’ve loved watching Michigan in this free-flowing style offense as of late. It helps to have attacking guards and versatility because the Wolverines like to play four-out with multiple ball handlers and shooting threats on the floor. It also helps to have five players who have the mentality to be aggressive and create quick scoring opportunities for each other with a simple hand off.

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Martin is the Founder, Chief Editor, and Head Skills Development Trainer for Basketball Society. He has work experience in digital media and marketing, radio, and journalism. Currently, he does freelance work as a videographer and content creator. He has been featured as a writer on sites such as Def Pen, TV Film News, All Hip-Hop, and more. Martin played high school basketball at South Brunswick High School (NJ) where he graduated in 2007. He is a 1,000-point scorer at SBHS and an All-Middlesex County performer as a 3-year varsity starter. He helped lead SBHS to their first-ever Central Jersey Group 4 sectional state championship in 2007. Martin played college basketball at Eastern University, where he graduated (BA, Communications) in 2012. Martin was a four-year starter and a 1,000-point scorer at EU. Follow Martin on Twitter @Marsoaries and on Instagram @martin_soaries

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