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NC State MBB 2023-24 Offensive Glossary

Below is a non-exhaustive list of popular actions that NC State ran this year. I thought this year's iteration of Kevin Keatts' offense was the most diverse and well-adjusted offense he has produced, so I wanted to compile the building blocks of it. Enjoy.

A couple of notes

  • There is definitely some stuff not included. This was compiled from watching tape over the course of the season, and I'm sure I missed some things along the way. I also didn't include one-off draw ups or every BLOB and SLOB concept.

  • The level of detail you want to apply here can certainly make this list a whole lot longer. Many pick-and-roll actions have drag variations, slip variations, and pop variations, and State ran a lot of these as DHOs as well. You could very easily include all of these as technically different actions, but that would become an absurdly long list.

Short corner post up

The bread and butter of State's offense. This was a pretty significant deviation from how State played the prior six years under Kevin Keatts. The Pack ran this many times in every game this season and built most of its offense with Burns in the game around it. Read more about that here.

Burns sets a pin down for Morsell and then seals to initiate the short corner feed. He then backs down his defender and looks to score if no double comes, pass to the dunker spot or skip to the opposite corner should a double come baseline, or pass to the point or wing should a double come from the high side.

Short corner post up cut

A basket cut off the Burns short corner action. This was a common component of the Burns offense, and a lot of times these cuts were just random movement as opposed to a called play. With teams floating doubles like Syracuse is doing below, there were lots of opportunities to beat teams back door as defenders watched Burns and rotated.

Syracuse floats a double and rotates off Taylor to Diarra in the dunker spot. Taylor cuts to the paint and is wide open, but Bell recovers quickly and Copeland rotates back to Diarra and gets a deflection as Taylor tries to dump it to him.

Short corner post up flare

An occasional wrinkle to side post-up actions for Burns. State did not do this a ton but it did crop up occasionally.

State empties out the side for Burns, but instead of moving Parker to the dunker spot, Pass sets a flare screen for O'Connell to come back to the ball and hopefully get an open shot.

Middle pin down

A popular set early in the year that got Burns the ball around the free throw line most of the time. State rarely used this later in the year.

Burns sets a pin down screen for Morsell, who elevates to the point and can attack with the ball or feed Burns. This was a post feed about 95% of the time.

Middle pick-and-roll

A bread and butter concept. Pick and roll does not get more basic than this. A 5-out high ball screen displays the core principles of what Kevin Keatts has traditionally wanted offensively. This State team was not super well cut out for it, particularly in the early stages of the conference season.

State spaces the floor with its 2, 3, and 4 on the perimeter and then runs a 1/5 high pick-and-roll. Notre Dame plays drop coverage, Horne takes a long jumper as Notre Dame fights over the screen. Burns lack of dive ability hurt these sets.

Angle pick-and-roll

Pick-and-roll action from the wing. The terminology here is not universal. Angle can sometimes refer exclusively to wing pick-and-roll away from the point, but some people use it to mean any wing pick-and-roll. Because these types of actions were often iced, State would screen and rescreen the elevating guard and attack the drop element of the defense toward the elbow.

Burns goes to screen toward the middle of the floor. The Notre Dame guard steps above it to ice the screen, so Burns rescreens back toward the sideline. Horne uses the screen and takes a long two over deep drop coverage.

77 pick-and-roll

A double ball screen. This was a popular wrinkle to ball screen sets that State used in every game this year. Most games, State would run five or six of these per game. 77 creates a lot of moving parts and with a big that can pop like Diarra, you can really force the defense to account for a lot of things at the same time.

Diarra and Middlebrooks set staggered screens for Taylor. Taylor's defender runs underneath both and Taylor makes the right decision to take a shot.

Ram pick-and-roll

A screen the screener action designed to delay help defenders. This was a very popular play for Keatts against hedging defenses. He used it to slow the arrival of the hedging big, letting the point guard avoid the retreat dribble and turn the corner easier.

Morsell sets the down screen for Burns who elevates and sets the ball screen for O'Connell. The delayed hedge allows O'Connell to turn the corner and get ahead of Virginia's rotation. #34 is late recovering to Burns so the roller tag has to stay in help longer, and it allows O'Connell to find Taylor via skip pass. It all started by beating the hedge on the screen.

Shake pick-and-roll

A pretty basic looking pick-and-roll action with an elevation toward the point from the strongside corner shooter. Shake can exploit roller tags, and Keatts used it pretty frequently to try and get good looks for Morsell.

This example is ran for Pass. Taylor and Middlebrooks run a basic high pick-and-roll set. Middlebrooks dives to the rim and Louisville's Johnson sinks to tag Middlebrooks, leading to a long closeout against the elevating Pass. Pass shoots over the soft closeout for three.

Ghost action

Essentially a fake ball screen. Most of the time, this action exists to create three-point looks for a screener in the slot or at the point. State didn't put a ton of these on the floor this year because it didn't run a ton of pick-and-roll with Diarra, but it did get two buckets against Vanderbilt with a simple ghost screen from Burns.

Burns comes to Horne to initiate angle pick-and-roll. #2 immediately works toward the elbow while #10 immediately tries to step between Burns and Horne to ice the ball screen. Burns steps back and is wide open.

Ghost action corner pin down

A ghost high-ball screen into a pin down screen in the corner. State brought this play out, if I remember correctly, for the first time against Pitt, where it ran it three times in a row.

Diarra's ghost screen elevates his man out of the paint while Burns sets a pin down toward the corner for Horne, who can catch and curl to attack or fade into the corner if his defender tries to go inside of the screen. Horne wins off the screen but hesitates on the catch and allows the defense to recover.

Staggered down screen curl

Stacked down screens on the wing as an off-ball action. State called this play a lot to get Horne downhill into the lane. This was an occasional action Keatts would call for Terquavion Smith as an ATO last season, and it was the play to beat Clemson this year.

Diarra and Middlebrooks set the down screens for Horne, who curls off of Middlebrooks' screen. #24 stunts at the ball but abandons the help before #1 can recover, so Horne gets downhill and gets to his runner that he's very good at making.


A down screen on the wing into a dribble handoff. Zoom became very popular for State down the stretch. The DHO is functionally similar to pick-and-roll and the whole action here is designed to create space for a guard to turn the corner around a screen.

O'Connell sets the down screen for Taylor who curls to Burns for the DHO and then attacks. This is a beautiful example. State creates a ton of space for Taylor against #22. Look how many steps behind he is when Taylor gets to the handoff. He's essentially out of the play. Burns short rolls and has to draw help because #5 has to cover the curl, and O'Connell is wide open. Taylor finds him for three.

Zoom Flare

A nice wrinkle off of Zoom to get a three. Essentially a zoom set up that rescreens the guards defender when he goes under the down screen. I imagine the existence of this is just read based, with Horne taught to fade the screen if the defender goes underneath.

State sets up the zoom with Horne in the corner. Horne's defender tries to go under, so Morsell flips and rescreens while Horne fades back toward the corner. Burns hits him for three.

Elevator doors

A set piece featuring an elevator screen and a post feed as a secondary option. State ran this play only a couple times this year, most notably in a failed attempt to beat Syracuse at home.

The alignment at the beginning of this play is very similar to the play above that beat Clemson. Instead of staggered down screens though, Horne cuts between Diarra and Burns who close the elevator hoping to free him for a three. If State catches Syracuse fighting around the screen, Horne should be open. If Syracuse switches to close out Horne, Diarra is supposed to exit and this flows directly into a post feed that should offer Burns a mismatch.

A late pass derailed this by allowing Copeland to close out Horne around the screen. Then Diarra was late exiting and it all fell apart.


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