Going over some more notes the other day and came across some breaking down Jim Larranaga's full court press defenses which he calls the full court scramble. I watched some old footage of George Mason from when they made their final four run and part of what made their pressure defenses -- full and half court -- so effective was the surprise element. Depending on time/score/situation, they would vary the defense and it was the in-game adjustments more than anything they did specifically which caught a lot of teams off guard. From the notes:

Jim Larranaga uses 5 full court defenses labeled as:

- fullcourt man
- quick trap
- slow trap
- twist
- 55 (1-2-1-1 matchup)

Fullcourt Man

The fullcourt man defense is the base defense and the other 4 are adjustments made depending on the offense. The fullcourt man has no traps but the primary purpose is to put extreme pressure all over the floor. X4 is on the inbounder, hands up, can jump, but does not overplay O4 to the middle (his run would be longer). Defenders deny the inbounds pass but try not to get beat with a long pass. Like-size defenders switch on screens. Turn the ballhandler 3 times in the backcourt, nose on the ball. Other defenders are up the line between the ball and their man, faking at the dribbler to make him think a trap may be coming and slow him down,

Quick Trap

The short corner is the trapping area. It's one trap then back if the press is broken, make a quick conversion, it's not so important who you have, but you will be guarding someone, and there will be pressure on the ball.

On the inbounds pass, X4 quickly traps the ball. Everyone moves in the direction of the ball ("three to the ball"). X1 splits the space between O2 and O4 looking for an errant pass off a reversal, X3 splits O2 and O3 looking to pick off the sideline pass. In this way, you can designate X2 and X3 as the interceptors, X5 is back with O5 and is the goaltender,

On a pass out of the trap back to inbounder O4, X2 takes the ball. X4, who left his man to trap, rotates to where the help came from, in this case O2. Now we are in our basic fullcourt man. X1 applies nose-on-the-ball pressure, X2 denies O1, and the other defenders are up the line, faking at the dribbler,

A common adjustment teams will make is to have the inbounder O4 cut up the middle to break the press and create numbers the other way. X2 should be trained to anticipate and pick off the pass. If O4 manages to get a pass up the middle, it's one trap and back.

X4 is the official trapper looking to trap a dribbler before midcourt, especially secondary ballhandlers.

If O1 passes to O2, there is still time for a second trap, by X1 and X4,

Slow Trap

Slow trap is especially good if the inbounder is a non-ballhandler (e.g., 4 or 5). So the idea is to try to deny the inbounds. But if the ball is inbounded to a good ballhandler, slow trap him to force the ball back to the safety who most likely is the inbounder.

X1 forces O1 to the middle. Once O1 dribbles, X1 and X4 herd him until a trap is formed. X2 comes across, X3 moves in the direction of the ball. X5 is the goalie.

Once the pass is made back to inbounder O4, X2 would take the ball and X4 take O2, and we are now at our basic fullcourt man defence (X1 denies O1),

In this way, X2 should be able to put enough 1v1 pressure on O4 to force a turnover or get a steal.


Twist is a great option after a time-out, and a terrific way to get a 5-second violation.

As the ball is taken out by O4, X4 twists and double teams by face guarding O1 (or the most likely receiver). Other defenders must not allow a long inbounds pass,

If the other team uses a 4-across pressure set, don't front them (except by X4), don't allow any long passes.

55 (1-2-1-1 match-up zone)

This is your standars 1-2-1-1 matchup zone. Look to deny the first pass then trap it if made. X4 is always on the ball, X2 on the right, X3 on the left, X1 in the middle, and X5 is back. X2 and X3 switch any screen and attempt to deny the inbounds pass. X4 immediately quick traps on the pass,

For a closer look at the scramble full court, check out Jim Larranaga's Full Court Scramble DVD or the Scramble in the half court which George Mason used to get to the final four a few years ago.