Nothing gets me going more than watching a team play great defense. In their win last night against the Detroit Shock, the Connecticut Sun played some great man-to-man defense against the Shock and was the main reason why they won the game, their first in over 10 tries.

There wasn't one thing specifically, but I put together a few plays which showed what a good M2M defensive team looks like. They got their hands into the passing lanes to deflect and steal lazy passes, they had great help-side defense to stop penetration, and finally I liked the way they played tough against the Shock by bumping Katie Smith and making her work for her points. Take a look,

Deny Defense, Deflections:

In good help and recover M2M, it's important for your guards to get into good deny position 1 pass away. Facing the check, 1 hand outward with thumbs pointing down. Here, the Shock just make a lazy pass from the inbounds and Lindsay Whelan is in great position to jump the pass and turn it into a fast break bucket,

Help-side, Stop Penetration:

Now, regardless of whether you advocate fighting through screens, or switching all screens, the ultimate goal is to stop penetration. In this clip, the Sun do a great job of forcing baseline, then the help-side switches and forces the penetration all the way to the baseline and forces the turnover over,

Bump the Cutter:

The Shock run some great plays for Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan, their best shooters. In fact, I'd say, they run a lot of stagger sets that resemble what the Pistons ran under both Flip and Larry for Rip. One of the ways to disrupt that kind of offense, is to teach your help-side defenders to bump the cutters. What you're teaching is impedance, and not to actually initiate contact which is a foul. In this play, Katie is bumped preventing her from receiving a pass to her on the block. So instead, she ends up going back the other way off some more stagger screens, and takes a much longer shot which she misses,


I watched the Sun last week when they beat my Seattle Storm and was very impressed with their toughness. After watching them beat the Shock last night, I was even more impressed with their attention to the little things. They rebound extremely well, they shoot a good percentage, they're patient on offense, they close out well, they stop penetration, they stay down on defense, etc... They play the game the right way, and that's a direct reflection of their coach, Mike Thibault.

For a unique video on defensive philosophy, take a look at Larry Shyatt's DVD on 7 Ways to Develop a Defensive Mindset. Coach Shyatt is an assistant on Billy Donovan's coaching staff at University of Florida. Talk about your late game situations over at the X's and O's Basketball Forum with other great coaches from around the world.