The “Princeton Offence” is not a set pattern but instead is a structure of play that breaks down into a series of “3 man game” opportunities. The “back door” cut is often regarded as the hallmark of the offence, however it is much more than that.

For a team to effectively use the Princeton Offence all players must have good offensive fundamentals – understanding “spacing” and passing and having the ability to pass, shoot and dribble from the perimeter. Two basic principles underpin the offence:

  1. The player in front of you (i.e. your defender) tells you where to go;
  2. If a defender overplays you (denies the ball), cut back door.

There are low-post and high-post opportunities within the Princeton Offence. The high post offence has the following advantages:

  • Using the high post spreads the floor more and leaves the area below the free throw line open for cutting (particularly back door cuts) and dribble penetration;
  • Opponents “big” defenders may not be as comfortable defending in the high post (this again emphasizes the need with junior players to teach all players both post and perimeter skills);
  • It is relatively easier to reverse the ball when there is a high post player, as the high post can relieve defensive pressure on perimeter players.

Some elements of the high post offence are set out below. These particularly utilize “turn out” cuts.

The Princeton Offence starts with a “2 guard front” and two wing players at the free throw line.

The post player (5) can play either low or high.

The ball is passed to the wing, and both guards cut low toward the basket, stopping below the “block”. The high post player steps to the perimeter.

4 passes the ball to 5.

3 and 4 set screens at the side of the key, and 1 and 2 cut to the opposite side of the key, coming of the screens (“turn out cuts”).

5 looks for one of the guards coming off, and for them to shoot from the perimeter.

After passing, 5 moves to set a staggered screen for the opposite guard.

After the staggered screen, 5 moves to the low post or basket and the other screener returns to the perimeter.

If an initial pass to the wing is denied, the wing player cuts back door, which is one of the underlying principles in the offence.

The ball is then reversed to the opposite wing player.

The offence then continues as before, with the two guards moving to below the low post and making turn out cuts off screens, following the ball being passed to 5 on the perimeter.

If both a pass to the wing and to the other guard are denied, the wing and guard cut back door (again following the basic rule of the offence).

5 steps to the perimeter to receive a pass directly from the guard, who then cuts to the opposite block.

Again screens are set for the guards.

If a defender (x2) denies a guard from make a “swing” cut to the opposite side, the guard can simply utilize the screen nearest to them.