Ray Meyer, the 46-year-old athletic director and basketball coach at Chicago's DePaul University, is known through the coaching fraternity for easy good humor. He is also respected among his colleagues for his habit of beating them regularly with material many of them would scorn. Meyer does this without recourse to fancy gimmicks but simply by concentrating on precise execution of certain basic moves, many of which are described on the following pages. In Meyer's 19 years at DePaul, his teams have been invited eight times to the NCAA or NIT tournaments; for 10 years he has been invited to coach the College All-Stars on their cross-country tours; four times the Chicago Basketball Writers have named him Coach of the Year; and in 1959 he was basketball chairman of the Pan American Games. During his playing days, Meyer was captain of the Notre Dame teams that won 40 of 46 games during the 1937 and 1938 seasons. He received the Byron Kenneally Award "for proficiency in scholastics and athletics." On the next six pages, Artist Shelley Fink and William Leggett describe the practice drills and game formations that Ray Meyer teaches and uses so successfully at DePaul.
All DePaul practice sessions start with this drill, in which one offensive man tries to outmaneuver one defensive man. The one-on-one is particularly valuable at the beginning of a season because it allows the coach to spot several important things about the offensive player—his ability to keep the ball away from the opponent, his strong or weak points in head and body fakes. If there are weaknesses they can be corrected so that later—under game conditions—he will be able to free himself from the enemy defender to drive for the basket or to feed a pass to a teammate. In the demonstration here and on subsequent pages the offensive men are in black uniforms and the defensive men are in red uniforms.
1 Player protects ball while he decides which maneuver will best deceive the defender and open the way toward the basket.
December 12, 1960
2 Head-and-shoulder fake to left causes defensive man to slide to his own right. Ball is held low in order to begin the dribble.
3 Offensive player starts to drive off his right foot as the defender, fooled by the fake, is off balance, cannot recover in time.
4 Driving player has his left hand and shoulder protecting the ball and is already a half step beyond the recovering defender.
One-on-one with pivot
This teaches players how to run the defender into a block (also called a pick) that renders him helpless. At right, on offense, are a forward and a pivot man. Their aim is to take the forward's defender out of the play. Note that the pivot man does not move once he has the ball. This opportunity arises many times during a game, and two smart offensive players can execute the maneuver quickly and work a man loose for a basket before the defender knows what is happening to him.
1 To begin this maneuver, the forward loops a pass in to the pivot man, who comes out to meet the ball and stands fast.
2 The forward fakes to his left, then goes to his right as the defender backs up, trying to anticipate the direction of the play.
3 The pivot man protects the ball as the forward moves toward it. The defender is forced into the block, is unable to follow.
4 The pivot man hands off to the cutting forward, who is now free, as the defender cannot get around the block in time.
Combating the 'stick'
There are only two things an individual defender can do to combat a block or pick. One is to stick with the offensive man and follow him no matter where he goes. The alternative is to switch guarding assignments when the man he is defending runs him into a block. In the situation shown on this page the defense tries to stick, but the offense still maneuvers it out of position.
1 Ball has been passed to the pivot man (left). Offensive man in rear starts to move (arrow), forcing defender to back up.
2 As soon as the defender starts backing up, the other offensive man begins cutting in toward the pivot, who fakes a pass.
3 Defensive man No. 2 tries to stick with the cutter, who now stops, setting up the block for his waiting teammate (No. 5).
4 Cutter's teammate (No. 5) now comes around block easily, having gotten a step ahead of his defender with fake (above).
5 Pivot man hands the ball off to teammate No. 5, who is now completely free as his defender is blocked out of the play.
Combating the 'switch'
The defensive players often try to avoid being blocked out by switching their guarding assignments. In the situation on this page the defenders switch assignments but the offense maneuvers them into a mistake with the help of the pivot man. The maneuver looks simple but must be executed swiftly and accurately to be successful.
1 Pivot man takes pass and waits for his teammates to cross in front. Offensive man in rear fakes defender toward basket.
2 Defender No. 2 moves with offensive man No. 1 and bumps into pivot, while offensive man No. 5 swings defender wide.
3 Blocked out, No. 2 calls "switch," but wide arc of offensive man No. 5 makes the defense switch very difficult to execute.
4 Although the defenders have switched their assignments, No. 4 has been taken out of play and offensive man No. 1 is free.
All of the fundamental maneuvers shown on the previous pages are combined in DePaul's weak-side play, so-called because that side of the court on which the offense concentrates most of its men is known as the strong side. The key to the play's effectiveness lies in fooling defensive man No. 2 long enough for offensive man No. 5 to get a step ahead of him on the weak side. This clears him for a pass and a drive-in for an easy layup. The play begins with the offensive team's two guards bringing the ball downcourt. Pick it up at drawing No. 1.
1 One offensive guard dribbles in front of other, and the two exchange sides of court as the defense switches assignments.
2 One guard (No. 5) continues toward near side of the court (foreground), thus forcing the defense to spread itself wide.
3 As man with ball prepares to pass, defender No. 2 watches him (for possible interception) but also keeps eye on No. 5.
4 The offense's left forward moves up from the corner to take pass and, the instant it is thrown, No. 5 starts to cut toward basket. Defender No. 2, who has kept one eye on strong side, is trapped. He cannot intercept or recover in time to catch No. 5.
5 As soon as the forward has received the pass, he whirls toward No. 5 who is cutting down the weak side of court at top speed.
6 Defender No. 2, realizing that he is trapped, tries to back up fast enough to block the forward's pass he knows is coming.
7 No. 2 cannot block the pass, and none of his defensive teammates can help him because they are all on the strong side.
8 The guard goes in for an easy layup as other offensive teammates move in for rebound just in case the shot is missed.
Coach Meyer and this year's starting lineup are shown in front of the temporary, fold-back seats at DePaul's Alumni Hall. Players are (top row, left to right) Bill Haig, Jim Flemming, M. C. Thompson, Bill Debes and (kneeling) Howie Carl.