Former Assistant Coach, Stetson U and Bethune Cookman Univ.

I first saw the 1-4 Offense run by Gary Colson when he was the Head Coach at the University of New Mexico in the mid-1980s.

 One particular game that sold me on the offense was against the University of Atrizona. The Wildcats, long known for their pressure defense, were no match for Colson’s 1-4 offense. The offense was designed to emphasize passing, create spacing, minimize dribbling and to promote cutting rather than movement.

 A solid point guard with good decision-making ability is crucial for the success of this offense.


Diagram 1


 The point guard has three basic entries in the 1-4 offense: (1) Wing Entry, (2) Dribble Entry and (3) Post entry. Each entry forces the defense into different guarding situations.

 As we look at the entries, it is important to note that all entries can be made from either side of the court.


 The wing entry is the first entry we will discuss. After the pass from #1 to #2, #1 cuts off #4 (weakside post) to the weakside block. #4 then steps up even higher while #5 dives hard to the low block area.

This now gives #2 two options: (1) Direct pass to #5 posting strong, or (2) a pass to #4. If pss is made to #4 immediate attention should be made to #5 stepping in. #3 should be occupoying his defender by screening down for #1 thus bringing #1 back out to the perimeter and defensive balance.

 If #4 and #5 are denied, #4 has the option to set a ball screen for #2.

 This action is shown in Diagram 2, 3, and 4.

Diagram 2

Diagram 3

Diagram 4

This now sets up a screen and roll situation. On ball screen, #5 should take his defender across the lane to free up a pass from #2 to #4 on the roll-out. #1 and #3 should should be behind the 3-point line ready for a shot.


 The dribble entry requires #1 to dribble at #2 forcing the wing to the middle of the lane. #5 steps up to make himself an outlet. #3 replaces #1 at the point. #2 then backscreens for #4 bringing #4 to the ballside low post.

 If #4 is denied then #1 would pass to #5 for the “high-low” action.

 After #2 sets backscreen he will go to the weakside 3-point line awaiting either a skip pass of ball reversal from #3.

 First look is #1 to #4 or #5 to #4. If #5s defender sags to help on #4, then #5 should have the 12-14 foot shot available.

 If #4 and #5 are denied, #5 has the same option that had been available to #4 in Diagram 4…..a screen on the ball. 02 and 03 should be behind the 3-point line in readiness to receive a pass for a possible shot.

 Diagrams 5 and 6 show the above action.

Diagram 5

Diagram 6


 The third entry available to #1 is the post entry. This entry can be very important to alleviate pressure if wings are denied.

On the post entry, wing must go backdoor on the catch by the post. When the wing (#2) gets to the middle of the lane, two options are available: (1) seal his defender and call for the ball or (2) backscreen for #4 bringing #4 to the ballside block.

Diagram 7

In Diagram 7, #2 cuts backdoor for a possible pass from #5.
#2 can post and call for the ball or #2 can rear pick for #4. After the rear pick, #2 will cut to the weakside wing and behind the 3-point line for a skip pass from #5 or ball reversal. As #5 receives the pass from #1, his first look is to #2 backcutting, or to #4 cutting off the rear screen by #2.

#1, 2, and 3 should remain behind the 3-point line for possible pass and shot. This is also important for floor balance and transition defense.

Diagram 8

If #5 skip passes to #2, he will then dive to the low block while #4 cuts to the high post.

 It is imperative to set the defender up on all cuts by taking a hard step in the opposite direction of the intended cut.

 These are just a few of the scoring opportunities from the 1-4 offense and are intended as a basic start to the offense. Many additional plays can be added.

Rick Walrond, is the all-time winningest coach at the Univerity of South Carolina- Salkehatchie and former assistant coach at Stetson, Bethune-Cookman, Coastal Carolina,and Roanoke College. He has also served as head coach in the Chinese Basketball Association. Coached and played professionally in Sweden.