Defending the Post man-to-man

I think as coaches, we've all been in this situation before (and if you haven't, don't worry, it will happen to you). The team you are about to face has a dominant 6-foot-10 post (substitute 6-foot-x for whatever level or if you're coaching girls) who has been terrorizing your league/state. So how will you defend it?? There are many strategies including a 2-3 zone or deny the wing pass, etc.., but what I wanted to do here is show a relative easy adjustment out of a man-to-man which shouldn't require too much practice to implement.


The simplest adjustment you can make is have your X5 play a high side deny one-on-one. But what I find, is that this often isn't enough. If their P5 is really dominant and we are quite a bit shorter (which is usually the case for us), then we need to help our X5.

So it's not too radically different from your regular man-to-man setup. Your 1 is still kinda guarding the point, your 5 is still guarding the opposite teams dominant post and 4 is the weak side help. The choice of personnel though is the key here. Here is what you want,

- X1, probably your best close out defender. Helps if he has long arms that can force the lob pass to go higher.
- X5, should be your strongest player. Will need to battle their dominant post for position and get in deny position.
- X4, your best help-side defender. A good rebounder who can jump and bat or intercept the lob pass. Good anticipation skills.

Let It Run:

OK, so the diagram is below,

So what's going on here. Looks pretty simple, but you need to know a few things,

- X1, should be facing the near sideline with left leg high. You want to be in position to deny any direct entry pass on the high side. You want to force the lob and if X1 has long arms, hopefully the pass will be the high lob and easier to intercept.
- X5, low-side deny, which means your base should be below P5 with your right hand in front of P5 denying the low-side entry pass.
- X4, help defense between P5 and P4, leaning towards P5 and watching the ball. You want to teach X4 to anticipate the lob pass and try to either intercept or meet P5 at the highest point.

Now, if the offense wants to try post-entry from the top of the key, your X5 needs to shift up and deny from the high side.

Should P5 somehow get the entry-pass from the wing, all three players should close in on P5. Most likely they'll try the lob pass, but anything below varsity will not execute a lob pass consistently (and arguably even Varsity). We want to bait them into a bad lob pass.

Obviously, from looking at this, you can guess that you will be vulnerable if P1 is a good shooter or penetrator. Also, since your defense is somewhat overloaded to the ball-side, you'll be vulnerable to the weak-side swing or skip for the open perimeter shot. Unfortutnately unless you have an equal big man, that is what you'll need to give up in order to try to slow their big man.

For more great ideas on the post-defense amongst other defensive topics, check out Jeff Lebo's DVD. Coach Lebo is the head coach of Auburn University of the SEC.

Go over the Coaching Basketball Forum to discuss.