Saturday, April 10, 2010


I love man-to-man defense as a general rule as long as you are just as athletic as your opponent. If your opponent can outrun you, man-to-man defense especially of the full-court variety will most likely fail. Therefore, an athletic team will be able to lock down their opponent with man-to-man most of the time simply because they will not get burned. However, just as the old proverb says, there will always be someone out there who is better than you are, or at least more athletic than you are. How then would a team who has played man-to-man defense all season defend this one team who is able to outrun you? The simple answer is through help defense. I know this sounds ridiculously obvious because every coach preaches the emphasis of help defense. Nevertheless, very few teams do it correctly. Why do very few teams do it correctly? I think the problem often lies with the players who are not aware of what is going on. Help defense needs to be a team effort, if one player fails to help, the whole system will fall apart. If someone gets burned on defense, somebody needs to step in to stop penetration. This will mean abandoning their assignments somewhat, but you need to force the offense to make that one more pass or take the contested layup. In either of these two results, there is a greater potential for error than that of the wide-open layup. Taking advantage of the help coverage and therefore open shooter most likely on the perimeter requires an awareness of a player that the opening is even there. In driving to the hoop from the right side, if help comes from the right side, the attacker will have his or her back to the wide-open player. Obviously then, the defender will be able to "cheat" over onto the open man without sacrificing a wide-open shot potentially. Even if players are getting consistently burned by a more athletic opponents, I think that with a solid man to man defense that can execute proper help, even the unathletic teams will be able to keep up and shut down their opponent.

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