Joel Eaves, the tall, white-haired basketball coach at Auburn University, is one of the ablest teachers in the sport today. Since 1955 he has been best known as the pioneer of the Auburn shuffle (see cover), which sounds like a new dance step but isn't. The shuffle is a unique basketball offense that Eaves devised by expanding and building on the original ideas of former Coach Bruce Drake of Oklahoma. It consists of a series of patterns that can be run continuously from either side of the court; if one play is stopped, players are already in position to begin another one without going all the way back to their original spots. Since installing the shuffle seven years ago, Eaves has coached Auburn to 105 victories in 150 games, giving him an over-all 12-year record of 177-90 at his alma mater. In 1960 Eaves's famous Seven Dwarfs shuffled their way to a Southeastern Conference championship, set a national record for field goal accuracy (52.1%) and brought Eaves recognition as SEC Coach of the Year for the second time in three seasons. Auburn's shooting accuracy is no accident. The shuffle's plays are ideal for teams that lack exceptional height, since they produce "the good-percentage shot"—Auburn scores from 10 to 15 lay-ups in every game.
The shuffle operates from two basic formations: an "overload left" (gray dots) and "overload right" (white dots). If a play from overload left does not yield a good shot, players will have already filled the same spots on the right side and can continue the play from there.
THE BASIC PATTERN
Coach Eaves has designed five options for the shuffle, from which a minimum of 17 plays can be run. When Auburn brings the ball upcourt, any player can take any one of the five spots numbered in the diagram at left. No one plays forward, guard or center all the time, so everyone must know the moves required for each position. A trademark of the shuffle is the quick, direct pass that insures ball control and forces the defense to cover a wider area, thus increasing the chance of freeing someone for an easy shot. At its best, as shown on these pages, the shuffle increases the possibility of surprise by requiring almost no dribbling.
This short pass from the 3-man to the 2-man is the start of Auburn's "third option," which Eaves terms the heart of the shuffle. Six plays can be run from this basic pattern, and every one of them looks the same to the defense until the last second—when it is too late.
The 2-man quickly relays 3's pass to the 1-man (lop, opposite page) as 3 begins his drive for the basket. He starts out by running, under control, toward the 5-man, while checking the position of his defensive opponent, whom he hopes to back into the 5-man.
His guard successfully blocked to the outside, 3 cuts inside and drives hard for the basket. If 3's guard had backed to 5's left instead and wound up in the lane, 3 would have cut outside the 5-man. If 3's guard had stayed with him, the play would change. Someone other than 3 would take the shot.
The 3-man continues at full speed to keep his advantage over the 5-man's guard, who has abandoned 5 upon realizing that the free-throw lane is suddenly open. The 1-man, noting that 3 has successfully gained clear access to the basket, immediately relays 2's pass.
The lay-up results. The 4-man moves in for a possible rebound. If 3 had been well guarded, I could have shot or passed to 5, who is free to shoot from just behind the foul line (see diagram). If everything failed the play would have continued from an overload right.
A QUICK OPTION