I saw some club teams play a game the other day and one of the big things that I'm seeing lately is really bad one-on-one defense. Now, I know that in these summer games, not a lot of players and teams play much defense anyways, but that's besides the point, I'm seeing the same phenomenon in high school games too.

I think one of the major problems is that when we teach players that we want to force the ball baseline or middle (depends on your personal defensive philosophy), players translate that by opening up their body either to the baseline or to the middle of the floor, and then their check just blows by them. It's easy when we coach to then blame the help defender getting late. That's baloney, the ball is your man, square up and make the ball go lateral.

I got the phrase from Bobby Knight's Man-to-Man Defense DVD, Coach Knight talks constantly about never opening up your gate. The picture above is from Kemba Walker's game winner in UConn's win over Villanova from last season. The defender opens up and Kemba just attacks his technique and gets right into the lane for the game winning floater.

It's not about the help, obviously we want the ball to go to help, but we want the dribbler going east-west to help, not north/south. Once you open up your gate, you're inviting the offensive player to get to the hoop, irregardless if you're forcing baseline or middle to help.