November 5, 2009

The Buck Stops Here: Two-Man Tips (Video)

by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Fresh from the November issue of Lacrosse Magazine, Washington Bayhawks and Minnesota Swarm stud Kevin Buchanan demonstrates the pick-and-roll and pick-and-slip.

Scroll down for LM's five keys to a successful two-man game. (Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 300,000-plus members today to start your subscription.)


Kevin Buchanan has emerged as one of the most versatile offensive threats in lacrosse today.
When the 2010 U.S. training team came out in June, Buchanan was one of just a few players who earned the “A/M” designation -- in that he, by selectors’ estimation, could be just as potent an attackman as he is a midfielder, his natural position at Ohio State and with the MLL’s Washington Bayhawks.

Somewhere along the way, this 5-foot-10, 180-pound firecracker nicknamed “Buck” developed a nose for the crease and the cage.

It could have been his impressive rookie campaign in the NLL, where Buchanan netted 45 points (22g, 23a) as a forward for the Canadian-rich Minnesota Swarm. Maybe it’s the jive he developed before that with British Columbia native Joel Dalgarno at OSU, or that coaches love his lefty touch.

Buchanan, for one, says he has benefited most from an understanding of the two-man offense. He teamed up with Drew Westervelt (Denver Outlaws, U.S. training team) to show us the intricacies of a successful two-man game -- at the expense of Joe Cinosky (Toronto Nationals, Minnesota Swarm, U.S. training team) and Paul Rabil (Boston Cannons, Washington Stealth, U.S. training team).

1. Stagger off-ball.
Buchanan channels his inner drill sergeant.

“The first element to a good two-man game is being staggered. Right now I’m on a level plane with Drew, and defensively, Joe it’s very easy to see me out of the corner of your eye, correct?”


“Now if I stagger myself, Joe can you see me?”


Picking is the most important skill in the two-man game. Don’t just cuddle up to the on-ball defender. As the off-ball attacker, setting a pick on a flat angle allows the defender the opportunity to see and sidestep it. Instead, stagger into his blind spot.

“The goal is to be in a situation to pick left or right,” Buchanan says.

2. Use the crease.

Where do you set a pick on the field?

“Directly at ‘X’ is a very effective place,” Buchanan says. “We use the crease to our offensive advantage. We’re not wasting any foot speed or legroom around the side.”

3. Square your shoulders to the ball carrier. He’ll bring the pick to you.

Once you are staggered in an offset position and at “X,” the onus falls on the ball carrier to execute the play. Keep firm ground, with your shoulders squared to him.

Says Westervelt: “As the ball carrier, I want to be on the same page as the picker. I want to make one good hard move off my dodge. I slip my defender and run right off the picker’s shoulder – as close as I can, so Joe doesn’t have a lane to get through.”

The off-ball player, or picker, needs to be patient and allow this to develop. He wants to keep his off-ball defender engaged so he’ll tangle with the on-ball defender.

4. Pick and roll.

It’s a tried and true tactic. Once the pick has engaged, the picker rolls off the back of the on-ball defender, opens up field and provides a target to the ball carrier. He can choose to feed you or take it to the hoop.

“Now I’m another offensive threat for Drew coming around the cage,” Buchanan says.

5. Pick and slip.

This is a more advanced element of the two-man game. Once they’ve been schooled by a pick-and-roll, the defensemen will ramp up communication and anticipate a similar play.

Throw in your own wrinkle with a pick-and-slip.

The same steps apply, only when the off-ball defenseman cheats to switch – or hedges – you as the off-ball attackman slip between the three remaining players to the cage. You’re essentially faking the screen.

“If we run the pick-and-roll once or twice, their mindset defensively is looking for that hard pick,” Buchanan says. “I come. Paul’s saying, ‘pick, pick, pick.’ Joe never sees or feels anything. They hedge and play Drew hard, essentially doubling the ball and leaving me open.”

Buchanan pumps the ball into an empty net for emphasis.

“Count it.”

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