Princeton Offense: Dribble Entry Option

The Princeton Offense has long been a very popular system for coaches. This is because the Princeton Offense as a basis for a team’s offense provides a high degree of continuity. It is this continuity that helps many young and developing teams “find” scoring opportunities not necessarily by skill, but by persistence. For senior and elite teams the Princeton Offense provides a solid foundation upon which to hang any number variations and terminal plays.


The Princeton Offense while becoming predictable over a period of time can have a number of different variations added to it which help mix-up the fundamental movements or rotations. The Princeton Offense Dribble Entry Option is one of these such movement variations. The Dribble Entry Option is often introduced to a team as a way of creating the much needed player movement within the Princeton Offense when passing is not possible because of defensive pressure.


While this is a sound reason to employ the dribble entry action, it under-estimates the benefits from this Play. The Princeton Offense Dribble Entry Option adds another tactical layer, the Hand-off to the game. A Hand-off for some teams and players is an unfamiliar tactic and anything which is not commonly seen can create an advantage for the offense to exploit.

Princeton Offense: Dribble Entry Option Diagram 1
Princeton Offense: Dribble Entry Option Diagram 1

The Princeton Offense Dribble Entry Option starts in the traditional Four Out and One In formation.


The ball handler, not being able to make the pass to wing dribbles towards this position. The wing player (Two) lifts and receives the ball from One (1) and then replaces back to the elbow position.


Two (2) once receiving the ball should avoid picking the ball up. This will allow for Two (2) to be more flexible in making a read and being patient while in possession of the ball.


As the Hand-off is initiated Five (5) flashes to the strong side double block and then lifts up the side of the keyway to the High Post position.


On the opposite side of the floor Four (4) sets a screen for the wing player (Three).


Scoring Options


  • One (1) and Two (2) can engage in a two man game utilising the Hand-off similar to an on-ball screen
  • Five (5) from post entry pass into the keyway or double block
  • Three (3) can curl off of the screen and cut to the basket
  • Four (4) once setting the down screen can roll to the basket if their defender is playing high side
Princeton Offense: Dribble Entry Option Diagram 2
Princeton Offense: Dribble Entry Option Diagram 2

Two (2) pauses with the ball at the elbow extended; as this happens Three (3) who has lifted can flash to the basket looking for a scoring opportunity. This can be especially effective if Three’s (3) defender is in full denial. In this instance Two (2) would pass fake and then look for Three (3) on the backdoor cut.


In the instance diagrammed above Three (3) has not cut however, and receives a pass from Two (2) across the top of the keyway.


Five (5) moves from the High Post to set a screen for Two (2). Two (2) creates a lead and cuts to the basket. This cut can either be ball side or weak side of the screen and depending on how the defender has positioned themselves either pathway to the basket can be equally beneficial.


One (1) fills the now vacant position left by Two (2) cutting to the basket.


Three (3) and Four (4) now engage in the Hand-off action.


Scoring Options


  • Three (3) off of catch fake and backdoor cut to the basket
  • Two (2) off cut to the basket using the screen set by Five (5)
  • Depending on the abilities of Five (5); once setting the screen this player can then roll to the strong side low or high post as an interior target in isolation
Princeton Offense: Dribble Entry Option Diagram 3
Princeton Offense: Dribble Entry Option Diagram 3

The action now repeats itself again.


Two (2) after making the cut to the basket lifts back to the vacant wing position on the weak side of the floor ready to enter the hand-off action once the ball is reversed again.


Five (5) depending on the timing either flashes to the opposite High Post and then sets as screen. On the other hand, creates a lead and sets the screen without reaching the opposite High Post.


Four (4) passes across the keyway to One (1).


Four (4) then using the screen as discussed earlier cuts to the basket.


The Princeton Offense Dribble Entry Option now repeats itself again from the first side of the floor. The Princeton Offense Dribble Entry Option is a really effective tactic when facing teams who are applying a high amount of pressure to the passing lanes around the perimeter. However, this variation of the Princeton Offense can be useful as a change-up to an on-ball screen action so commonly seen.

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Coach Riches has been working within the sport, business and education industries for many years. During this time he has built an extensive number of formal and informal qualifications. A firm believer in training and development designed to help people reach their full potential, relevant o their needs and functional to their industry environment.

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