Stanford women’s basketball film study: Point series

March 3, 2024, 10:19 p.m.

After yet another successful regular season, the No. 4 Stanford women’s basketball team (26-4, 15-3 Pac-12) is primed for another deep NCAA tournament run. The front court duo of senior Cameron Brink and junior Kiki Iriafen has led the way for the Cardinal thus far, with both stars averaging a double-double. 

This first installation of Stanford women’s basketball film study will go over the point series, one of the staple actions of the Princeton offense. This action has allowed the Cardinal to get efficient looks from the field in a variety of ways.

How Stanford runs point series 

To start the point series and get the spacing right, most teams will usually perform a slot-to-slot pass, with the guard who just made the pass cutting through the paint to the weak side corner. However, this isn’t always the case for Stanford. 

On several possessions, the Cardinal attempt to get a quick post touch to Brink or Iriafen, and will usually pass the ball to a wing player to get a better angle into the post. However, if the post is well-defended or there is denial, the wing will usually pass it back to the strong-side guard, who’s usually standing at a slot position or at the top of the key. From here the post-player will move to the elbow, where they’ll receive a pass from the strong-side guard. 

The guard who just made the pass has a choice: she can either screen the strong-side corner or weak-side wing. Screening for the strong-side corner is often called point over, while screening for the weak-side wing is called point away. 

In point away, the player receiving the away screen almost always rejects the screen and cuts backdoor to the basket. This maneuver is especially effective if the defender is playing up aggressively on the offensive player or loses sight of them.  If the backdoor cut is open, the center, or power forward, will try to hit the cutter. If the cut isn’t open, the screener will pop back out to the top of the key, where they will receive a pass from the center, followed by a spread ball screen.

In the video below, junior point guard Jzaniya Harriel throws the elbow pass to Iriafen and then screens for freshman forward Courtney Ogden, who rejects the screen. Iriafen notices that junior forward Brooke Demetre’s defender has lost sight of her man, and passes it to Demetre for a quick three. 

In point over, the screener will try to set a pin-down screen, from which the player receiving the screen usually has more reads they have to make. If the defender is trailing the offensive player, the person receiving the screen will attempt to curl to the rim. Instead, if the defender plays aggressive defense or loses sight of the offensive player, they can reject the screen and cut backdoor. 

The split actions for point over and point away often create dribble-drive opportunities for Brink and Iriafen, and oftentimes you will see the Stanford posts ignore the split actions to take their man off the dribble or shoot an elbow jump shot.

The clip below shows Stanford running point away, with Brink facing up and shooting a jump shot as soon as she gets the elbow entry.

As the video shows, Brink has a lot of space to operate with her face-up game if she makes her move before the reject cut gets to the rim. 

If the big man can’t hit the curl or reject, the screener can pop back out to the perimeter and the play can flow into a simple dribble-drive or spread ball screen. Another option is for the center to dribble at a guard on the perimeter and have the screener go backdoor. 

A lot of times, teams will try to deny the high post entry if the post player is a strong face-up player. To counter this, the guard making the entry pass will dribble the opposite direction of the post player. This maneuver will initiate twirl action, which involves the wing making a backdoor cut, while the corner player moves up to the wing. The guard can hit the backdoor cut or go into a dribble handoff with the person in the corner.

In the video below, after junior forward Brook Demetre is fronted in the post, junior guard Elena Bosgana dribbles toward Cameron Brink, which initiates the twirl action. Instead of doing a dribble handoff to Harriel, Bosgana tries to get the ball to a cutting Brink for a post up. An Oregon defender helps from the weak side corner, and Brink finds an open Courtney Ogden for a three. 

Going forward, look to see if teams attempt to strategically lay off certain players to provide more help on the inside against Brink and Iriafen. While several Stanford players have improved their shooting across the season, many teams may be wary of single-covering Stanford’s dominant frontcourt duo.

Kaushik Sampath is the sports managing editor. He is a junior from Fayetteville, Arkansas and a history major. You can catch him watching and ranting about his beloved Arkansas Razorbacks or hanging out with friends on campus. Contact him at sports 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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