One of the winning coaches in the State of Washington, he is lecturer at clinics in US and abroad. He was also scout for NBA teams. Since many years he applies the technology to basketball and he has a web site hoopstactics.com.
1. PASS DENIAL
Guarding player on ball side without the ball Off ball defenders primary responsibility is to constantly attack and disrupt the passing lanes. This requires a commitment of hard work and determination. Defenders must maintain a low bent knee stance, “Ear on Chest” position using split vision to see both their opponent and the ball. The arm closest to the ball should be extended straight out in passing lane with palm toward the passer (“Stop Sign”) to deflect or discourage any pass. The rear foot should be placed 12” behind the receiver. When assuming a pass denial stance, defenders should move with quick, short shuffle steps staying low.
OFF BALL PASS DENIAL POSITION ATTACKING THE PASSING LANE
Rule: Off ball defenders should never allow any pass over 15 feet. Successful passes over 15’ compromises the defense and gives the offense a distinct advantage. It is important to see the ball and the opponent at all times. This is especially true when in defensive transition where the defenders should never run down the court with their backs to the ball.
In order to effectively attack and deny passing lanes, the defender must play in an UP position between his opponent and the ball (diagr. 1).
When the ball is in the backcourt, the off ball defenders should stay above the free throw line extended until the ball crosses the midcourt line.
Incorrect: Ball - You - Man
When the defender plays in a DOWN position below their opponent, they have to close out and lunge at the pass. This usually resulting in a near miss interception or deflection and easy shot off dribble penetration (diagr. 2). Do NOT leave a shooter to help.
Stay at home (pass denial) on ball side.
When the guard 1 penetrates past the defender X1, defender X3 on ball side must STAY with the shooter 3. Helpside defenders are responsible for rotating over to help stop 1’s dribble penetration (diagr. 3).
PROBLEM OF HELPING OUT ON BALL SIDE
Be aware! Smart point guards like to penetrate to draw ball side defenders to them, and then make a kick out pass to a wide open shooter (diagr. 4).
DEFENDING AGAINST THE CUTTER
A. Dribble Clear Action
When the point guard 1 dribbles toward the wing, defender X3 maintains a pass denial position on 3’s back cut to the basket and then assumes a low “Helpside I” position as 3 clears out to the weakside (diagr. 5). X3 does NOT follow the cutter out to the weakside wing.
B. Double Team Option
Since 3 is clearing out to the weakside, defender X3 can double back and trap 1 with X3 on the wing (diagr. 6).
C. Defending against the Basket Cut (“Give & Go”)
When guarding the player with the ball, once the player gives up the ball, it is imperative that the defender “jump to the ball” to establish a ball side pass denial position.
D. Give & Go Pass Denial
When ballhandler 1 passes to 3 and executes a basket cut, defender X1 first moves in the direction of the pass, and then assumes a ball side pass denial position preventing any return pass to 1 (diagr. 7).
E. Incorrect: Basket Cut
Defender X1 cannot allow cutter 1 to make an uncontested cut to the basket (diagr. 8).
F. Cutter Goes Away
When ballhandler 1 passes to wing 3 and goes away, defender X1 moves in the direction of the pass, and then assumes a Helpside I position. X1 does not follow 1 out to the weakside wing (diagr. 9).
G. Double Team Option
Since 1 is clearing out to the weakside, defender X1 can double back and trap 1 with X3 on the wing (diagr. 10).
2. “HELPSIDE I”
Backside Help Position With Basket Responsibility
When guarding a player without the ball on the weak-side or helpside of the defense, the defender should sag off and assume a Ball - You - Man “Helpside I” position. In this “Helpside I” position, players should maintain a low bent knee stance with both arms extended straight out. One arm points to their opponent and the other one towards the ball. They must remain alert with active feet (do not stand flat footed) anticipating and disrupting the offense’s next move. Note: On all cuts away from ball defenders should also assume the “Helpside I” position. and not chase after any cutter going away from the ball.
Helpside defenders should use split vision and adjust their position to where they can see both the ball and their opponent without moving their head. This also will limit the offensive player to only one cutting option (diagr.11).
Incorrect “Helpside I” Position.
When the defender takes a position mid way between the ball and their opponent it not only creates a vision problem it also allows the offense the options of cutting high or low (diagr.12).
Basic Actions taken from “Helpside I” Position.
By sagging off into the a “Helpside I” position, it enables the defender to double team or trap, to deny any cuts to the ball, to close out quickly on cross court passes, to box our and rebound.
A. Double Team
The helpside defender can double team or take an offensive charge or show and recover (fake trap) to keep the offensive player off balance (diagr. 13).
B. Hit - Deny All Cuts
The “Helpside I” defender can aggressively block and prevent any direct cut to the ball or basket (diagr.14).
C. Close Out Quickly
In being alert, the “Helpside I” defender can intercept or deflect any cross court pass or quickly close out on balance when the pass is completed (diagr.15).
D. Box Out & Rebound
When shots are taken, “Helpside I” defender must anticipate a miss, and box out. Do not allow any second efforts (diagr. 16).
3. CLOSING OUT
Quick recovery from “Helpside I” position to a “Ballside” positionIf/when the offense deploys the post on the ball side of the court, a double “I” helpside defensive alignment is created. From this helpside alignment the two defenders provide for strong backside defensive help, creating a five on three situation in favor of the defense (diagr.17).
Problem of No Helpside Support
When the weakside defenders do not sag off to help, it opens up a large area in the middle for the ballhandler to dribble penetrate (diagr. 18).
Near Man Rule: When a pass is made over to the helpside of the defense, all players must immediately rotate to the nearest opponent as the ball leaves the passers hands. The ability to close out quickly and effectively is a real key to defensive success (diagr. 19).
When closing out to a player with ball, the defender must maintain balance with both hands up to disrupt or prevent a shot or pass. “Take away middle penetration” by influencing the player with the ball toward a sideline or baseline check point. Be sure to stay down and do not run past the shooter. When closing out to a player without ball, aggressively attack and deny the passing lane. Stay low in an “ear on chest” with “Stop Sign” (arm) extended pass denial position.