Stealing the Wing Pass

If you've been reading this blog for the past couple of weeks, you'll know that one of the things I've been really writing about has been the concept of using screens for the wing to receive the pass. Well, lets think about the situation from a defensive standpoint. What if you scouted your next opponent and you find that all of their plays start with a pass to a standing wing player (I know several teams around here that always start their offense with a wing pass). I would not only want to take that wing pass away, but use it to our advantage for easy points. As players have become so much more athletic, even at the lower levels, stealing this pass in my opinion should be one of the easiest and safest passes to intercept. Here, Caron Butler of the Wizards does just that and converts it into 2 easy points. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

Steal the Wing Pass:

I would put one of my best athletes to defend the wing. Now, IMO you don't want to deny the wing, you want the offense to think that they can make the pass. X2 and X3 should play say 2 arms lengths away. Read the passer's eyes, they usually telegraph the pass.

The great thing is that you can drill it with simple deflection drills. I say it's safe because even if the wing player goes backdoor, you would teach your forward defenders to play the help-side defense and watch for the backdoor and help. Plus, the backdoor pass from the top of the key over the forwards to a wing cutting behind is not exactly an easy pass to make.

Jumping the Dribble Drive to Wing:

After intercepting a few passes for a layups, inevitably, the other team will probably adjust. The most likely adjustment is for the point to simply dribble to the wing instead of pass and the wing just drags to the corner setting up a 3-man game. Or the wing will just clear out to the other side.

As a counter to this, you can simply jump the dribbler. So, on the start of the dribble, the ball-side wing defender, X2 in this case, can jump switch and force the dribbler to pick up the dribble. This isn't a novel technique and will need to be drilled, but can be effective in forcing the dribbler to pick up the dribble, causing a dead ball. X1 goes underneath and switches to cover the O2.


Will any of this stuff work? Maybe... Depends on your players. These are just some of the ideas that as a coach I think about all the time. I like forcing teams to adjust to what we do defensively, thus taking away from what they do well and are used to. Especially if they haven't practiced it.

For video info on more individual defensive development and drills, 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. Have a basketball coaching question? Post it on the X's and O's Basketball Forum and see what other coaches think.