First off, want to wish all the American readers out there a very happy Thanksgiving. We all have so much to thank for and so it's good to have a day to just say thanks for everything.

There have been some fantastic college games the past couple of days with the wrap up of a couple of major pre-season tournaments. There was a great game that wasn't on most people's radar, VCU against East Carolina. Game went to overtime and it was a fantastic finish with East Carolina winning at the end.

I've never run this kind of pressure defense before but it's a very intriguing concept, the idea of the run and jump. You fake like it's just regular M2M pressure, but then one of the off-ball defenders leaves his check to hard double the ball-handler. More than anything it hurries the offense into making bad decisions. Check out a few sequences from the first half,

Trap Sideline:

On the inbounds, you'll even notice that they'll face guard and double the primary ball handler. Anything to make it more difficult to get the ball in. Once the ball is inbounded, X1 plays M2M. The ideal is to force baseline, then X2 pretends to run down along with O2, but v-cuts hard and doubles O1,

If the ball-handler is able to dribble out (shouldn't if it's a good trap), continue to double-team and force a turnover. That's what VCU does, both X1 and X2 trail and force the re-trap after crossing half,

Middle Trap:

Well, it's kind of a half-trap because without the sideline, you can't true trap and box in. Nonetheless, if the ball handler goes middle, X2 can still v-cut back. Also, notice how the other 3 defenders zone up to cover the backside,


I've never run the run and jump myself, but I think it can really be disruptive because you never really know when or where the trap is coming. It's usually out of a M2M defense, so there isn't a predictable formation like a 2-2-1 or a 1-3-1 that you can particularly scheme for.

I think East Carolina struggled a bit with it in the first half, but did a better job in the second half. I think you want to keep at least 1 player behind the ball-handler to reverse to, thereby keeping the defense honest. The Pirates were kind of making it worse by having all four offensive players in the backcourt waiting. Bring 1 player back so that the ball can be reversed easily.

George Mason plays a similar kind of defense except they call it scramble. For a closer look, check out Jim Larranaga's DVD on his 3-2 Camouflage Defense in the half court. George Mason used it to get to the final four a few years ago. Be sure to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to discuss this and more of your favorite basketball topics.