NCAA Tournament Trends: Ghost Screens and Gap Creation

Looking for ideas to improve your basketball playbook? This year’s NCAA Tournament teams offered a variety of ideas to help your half court offense, zone offense, and special situations.

Watch the full episode of #HoopsForum: NCAA Tournament Xs & Os Trends

Ghost Screens

The darling of this year’s tournament wasn’t in fact a team. It was the ghost screen.

For those who may not be familiar with the term, ghost screens are modified ball screens. However, instead of actually setting a screen for the ball-handler, the screener sprints away from the ball-handler. One of two things usually happens – either a gap is created for the ballhandler to drive or the screener’s defender helps on the ball-handler, leaving the screener open for a shot.

Gap creation off the Ghost Screen

The Gonzaga Bulldogs took things a set further by following the ghost screen with a ball screen to create further confusion for the defense.

Gonzaga’s ghost screen followed by a ball screen

Gap Creation

The late Chuck Daly once said, “Spacing is offense and offense is spacing.” Teams are are starting to truly understand what it means to manipulate space in order to exploit defenses.

Whether it’s a double gap or a triple game, teams are creating one-on-one situations and then forcing help defenders to choose whether to give help or let their teammate attempt to stop the ball handler from scoring.

A triple gap for 2 forces x3 to choose whether to help or stay on a corner shooter

Check out the full episode of #HoopsForum (scroll up) for more plays from this year’s March Madness. And be sure to watch live episodes of #HoopsForum, streaming every Friday on YouTube and Twitter.

If you’re interested in more of the best plays from the 2021 NCAA Tournament, check my latest playbook

Other Resources

  • Become Patreon member of A Quick Timeout to receive playbooks, mini-clinics, coaching courses, and more!
  • Watch exclusive content and original videos from Coach Tony Miller on YouTube.


You have Successfully Subscribed!