I'll have to admit that I haven't had much time to watch Texas lately since I've mostly followed Kansas, Duke and Kentucky so far this year. So, when I sat down yesterday and caught the later part of the second half in their game against Texas A&M, I was able to see for myself why they are the No. 1 team in the country. They play relentless half-court defense. They pressure everything on the perimeter, and they play terrific team defense. I took a few clips from the OT session between the two teams which illustrate the point:

In many ways, their defense resembles the kind of half-court pressure defense that Duke plays. But Texas is better at it, because they have better athletes. Their perimeter defenders are a threat to get their hands on the ball every single defensive possession.


It all starts with the perimeter deny. The Longhorns deny everything on the perimeter. In these 2 shots, you can see that they deny everything, even near the half-court line,

In this sequence, the Longhorn defender gets his hand on the attempted bounce pass handoff. They don't get the turnover, but it shows great defensive fundamentals by the defender to get that arm outstretched to get the deflection,


The biggest issue with this kind of aggressive half-court defense is that it leaves you vulnerable to the biggest offensive counter, the backdoor pass. Texas A&M attempts to go backdoor, but the perimeter players are so well prepared, and athletically gifted, that they can deny hard, and recover at the same time,


Finally, it is almost impossible to have a solid defense individually. Your team has to work together as a unit to stop the ball, especially when players get beaten individually. Now, several times in the OT, when A&M got blocked, it was more a result of bad spacing by A&M on offense, but still, the Longhorns did a great job of weakside support,

Well, hopefully everyone else is having a great weekend. Still waiting for Rick Barnes to come out with a video, but in the meantime if you need some ideas for halfcourt denial defense, take a look at Tubby Smith's new DVD on Ball-Line Defense. Coach Smith is the head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.