Inside the Offense: Five Series

Dylan Burkhardt

John Beilein was voted best offensive coach in the country by his peers in an anonymous poll by CBS Sports. In honor of Beilein’s offense, we enlisted the help of Gibson Pyper of HalfCourtHoops (@HalfCourtHoops) to break down some of Beilein’s most effective sets. Today we look at Michigan’s ‘Five’ series of motion action.

Previously: Early Dribble Hand Off, Wide Pin Down, 25 Down

Here are Pyper’s thoughts on the 25 down set which creates pick and roll scenarios for Michigan’s guards

Why is it so effective?

Michigan’s “Five” Series is based upon movement into dribble hand offs and backdoor cuts, in true Princeton fashion. This is so effective because of Michigan’s ability to score with 4 guards on the floor so any player can be a scorer in this set. Designed to have options for dribble hand offs, wing ballscreens, and backdoor cuts in every single action/set out of it the defense constantly has to account for every player on the floor.

What is the most effective or common defensive counter? How does Michigan counter that action?

The most effective defensive adjustment is hard, since the defense has to account for multiple actions involved in one set. The basic entry is to pass to the big at the top of the key who reverses to the 4 man as both guards cut through to the corners. If they deny the big to stop the set, then it’s a backdoor and the 4 man replaces for a pass. If they deny the wing after the big gets the ball, then it’s a backdoor cut and the other guard in the corner fills.

As the play progresses the pass goes to the point guard on the wing, and the 4 man receives a flare screen from the big, followed into a ballscreen. More often than not, the flare is not open but the big into a ballscreen is where Michigan looks to score most of their points in this set. When it comes to the ballscreen it is hard to ICE it or push it to the sideline since the big sets a flare screen into a ballscreen. If the big is going to hard hedge, Michigan has a built in read for the big man to slip to the rim, since 4 guards are outside the 3 point line there is no help on the slip to the rim. This set is based upon reading the defense and adjusting on the fly, or if the coaching staff notices adjustments they can call that action from the sideline.

What needs to happen to run the ‘Five’ series effectively?

Since this is a patterned motion with built in reads this needs to be drilled in practice in the patterned motion that it is based upon. In practice and scrimmaging 5 on 5, coaches will tell the defense to adjust and take certain things away in each “session” to force the offense to read what they are doing and adjust for each read to prepare for games.

Who is best suited on Michigan’s roster to execute out of this set?

Since this set incorporates every single player on the floor, it really can be run and suited for anyone on the roster. The design is for a ballscreen or hand off, so players like Derrick Walton and Caris LeVert attacking in the pick and roll and big men like Ricky Doyle in the roll game.

What makes Beilein’s ‘Five’ series sets unique to the college game?

This set isn’t necessarily unique, as many other teams and coaches run this set or action in their offense. What is unique about this and how Beilein runs it is he has 4 guards on the floor to attack with. Having 4 guards allows the offense to always attack the defense on every possession, having to account for a backdoor cut and the wing filling behind who can shoot is always tough for any defensive team.

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  • This has been just an outstanding series of posts. I’ve learned something on every occasion.


  • Indiana_Matt

    Can you imagine what the offense would look like this year with Mitch, Glenn, Nik, Caris having run it for four years along with Derrick for three? They would be on Jedi-level.

    While Kentucky always has amazing first and second year players, I believe that if everyone was forced to stay 4 years we would beat them every time with the way our talent is nurtured. Our players mature and progress in ways other than merely physical.

  • bobohle

    I have really been educated with this series of articles. Thanks Dylan!

  • Wayman Britt

    What makes this an almost unstoppable offense is if the 5 can hit a long jumper and roll to the hoop. Which is why I had such high hopes for Mark Donnal, but so far in his career he cannot hit a jumper.