Why is it important to play good fundamental M2M defense? Because it makes you competitive every single year. I've watched the Kansas Jayhawks a few times this season now, against Washington and recently in their OT loss to Syracuse this past Tuesday. Despite losing their entire starting lineup and more after last year's remarkable run to the National Championship, the Jayhawks could be back to the Final Four, because of the way they play defense.

Like a UCLA or a UConn, there's nothing tricky here. They just play great 1v1 and help defense. They have active hands, and they really get into those passing lanes. If you look at the Jayhawks last year, they were one of the top teams in the league in steals, and they hardly ever pressed full court. Though they would ultimately lose this game due to some great clutch shooting by Syracuse, here a few sequences at the end of the game and in OT showing how they get into those passing lanes,

Help Defense:

Stopping your man 1v1 is great. But we all know that anyone can get beat. On the dribble drive by Devendorf, watch how the Kansas post defender pops out to force Devendorf to leave his feet and ultimately turn the ball over,

Active Hands:

This is a carryover from last year. The Jayhawks are so good in their half-court defense because all their guys have active hands. They're always getting into passing lanes and deflecting the ball. This is something obviously drilled and conditioned into the players,


It's no real secret, if you play hard M2M half-court defense year in and year out, you will be competitive year in and year out. But that kind of tough defense requires a lot of teamwork and practice. You can tell that Kansas spends a lot of time working on defense in a Bill Self practice. Spend the time and effort to teach good M2M fundamentals, the payoff will be in your team's perpetual competitiveness.

If you want your teams to practice like Kansas, take a look at Bill Self's DVD on Better Practices. Discuss this and the rest of your favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.