In a critical defensive sequence, the Memphis Grizzlies needed to hold of the hard-charging Houston Rockets late in the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies had a precarious 4-point lead with less than 1 minute to go. Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming use a pick and roll play with Tracy coming off the ball-screen for the 3-pointer. Yao rolls to the basket looking for the offensive rebound and put-back. Darko Milicic of the Grizzlies is man-up on Yao. Pao Gasol is defending the weak side. The shot by Tracy is off and Pao comes up with the rebound, but what you'll see in the video is a potential dangerous play where Yao almost comes up with the rebound. Watch the video and then you can read my thoughts below.

As a coach, while it's important to celebrate the success and the end result was a positive one for the Grizzlies, it's even more important to catch the mistakes and correct them. Most people look at a play like this and say, "Pao did a great job, secured the win tonight", but looking at the play, as a coach you have to be disappointed in how some players did not take their responsibilities seriously. Winning sometimes masks problems, and so despite winning, we must always be looking to improve. This is one of those situations where some players such as Darko obviously need more work defensively. To do this, let's breakdown a good rebounding drill you can use.

2-on-2 rebounding drill:

It's just a 2-on-2 drill, nothing fancy. With rebounding, we use the "find-hit-get" concept that probably everyone else uses. You 'find' your man to box out, you 'hit' him or make contact with your butt with arms stretched out behind you, and finally you 'get' the ball. Darko pretty much only did the 'find' part and let Yao come through uninhibited.

Start with 2 offensive players and 2 defensive players. 2 coaches, one on each side, each with a ball. 2 other players, 1 on each wing for the outlet. Coach starts by simulating a shot at the basket. The 2 defenders should box out using the "find-hit-get" concept and grab the rebound.

If the defense secures the rebound, they outlet to the wind on the side the ball came from. The wing dribbles hard to half-court simulating a fast break and passes back to the coach. Play continues from the other side. And you repeat going from side to side.

If the offense gets the rebound, you play 2-on-2, score 5 pushups for the defense. If the offense scores on the 2-on-2, score another 5 pushups for the 2 defenders. Add rules as you wish to emphasize different concepts.


Especially, late in games, rebounding is critical. Rebounds on free-throws, holding leads, and even offensively on a critical possession.

When in a M2M defense, it is critical that players take their box-out responsibilities seriously. Everyone must be accountable. In this sequence, Yao is probably about .5 a second from grabbing the rebound, putting it back and possibly drawing the foul. It's the little things, work on the details, clean up the execution, that's the difference between winning close games and losing them.

If you're looking for ideas to get your players to be better rebounders, I recommend taking a look at Tom Izzo's DVD on Rebounding and Man Defense. Coach Izzo is the long-time head coach of Michigan State. There are a ton of notes uploaded so head over the X's and O's Basketball Forum to take a look and see what is there.