January 13, 2009

Classroom: Two-Man Tools

This instructional article appeared in the December 2008 issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Get tips in your mailbox each month by joining US Lacrosse and receiving your complimentary subscription to LM.

by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Banana Play: As a wing player, initiate the offense by dumping the ball off to a teammate at X and cut like you're clearing through the crease. When you reach the high point of the crease, peel back and provide a target to your teammate who has replaced you on the wing. "It's a spot feed to the crease," says Scott Burnam, "an easy lay-up."
(Photo: John Strohsacker)

The DeWalt Lacrosse Club, an eight-time American Lacrosse League champion and perennial post-collegiate men's lacrosse power, has made the two-man game its hallmark. It need not always be picks and rolls and hidden ball tricks, but the ability for two offensive players to operate on a string can confound even the strongest defenses.

Midfielder Scott Burnam, a former NCAA Division III coach at Wesley College and player for the Iroquois Nationals, opened DeWalt's toolbox to reveal these simple-but-effective offensive elements.

Give and Go: Sell It Inside

Most players understand the give-and-go. Player A up top passes to Player B on the wing; Player A cuts to the cage; Player B returns the favor. It's standard rec-league stuff. So why mention it here?

It's not as two-dimensional as it seems.

Many midfielders, once they give up the ball, make a direct line for the cage. It's an easy read for the opponent to drop step and back check once their teammate returns the ball. Worse yet, any hesitation to return the ball could then result in a double team, as you've drawn your defender to your teammate.

To prevent this, after you pass the ball to a teammate on the wing, cut inside first to convince your defender that you're clearing through. Sell it, then cut back outside with a target for your teammate.

"Your main goal is to get the defender to turn his hips away," Burnam said, "and that way you can break back for a feed to shoot."

Banana Play: Peel Rubber

Here's a two-man play that can really, um, bear fruit. Burnam calls it "Banana," because of the shape formed by the players' movement.

To initiate offense as a wing player behind the cage, dump the ball off to a teammate at "X" and cut in front of the cage as if you're clearing through the crease. Stay topside on your defender as he follows you there. Your teammate carrying the ball will replace your position on the wing behind.

When you reach the high point on the crease, plant your feet, pivot off the foot nearest the feeder, and provide him a target.

"It's a spot feed to the crease," Burnam said, "an easy lay-up."

Quick Pass, Pick Away: Add a Third Wheel

This variation of the two-man game actually involves a third player, a decoy. Attacking from the top, turn and set a quick pass to him on the wing. The defense's inclination is to follow the trajectory of the ball and assume to rotate in the same direction.

Make a cut in the opposite direction, and set a pick for your teammate on the opposite wing. The ball carrier, the decoy, should get the defense off balance by faking a pass to "X," and then hit the man coming off the pick for a feed. With this play, the ball changes planes of the field, hopefully setting the defense off kilter.

(Photos: John Strohsacker)


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