I've always advocated pressure defense. This is a half-court press that our team has used in past years to disrupt the offense and create a ton of transition baskets. The reason why we love the 1-2-2 is because once the ball-handler has crossed half, it compresses the area to trap and it thus creates more turnovers than a full-court press. Also, since the backcourt is mostly empty, a turnover usually results in an uncontested layup the other way.

One of the teams that I've seen use the 1-2-2 half-court or 3/4 court press is Marquette. Tom Crean will switch to the 1-2-2 3/4 matchup press to change the tempo of the game and force turnovers.

With the 1-2-2 half-court press, the main thing you want to accomplish is to increase tempo. This is a great press to use to force the game to be played at a faster pace. This is great to use against teams that like to settle into a half-court set. The best way to defend them is to not let them setup.


In terms of personnel, you need a great on-ball defender that can really agitate the dribbler. You need your wings to have great reaction skills and they must be able to really closeout. Finally, your X4 and X5 need to be athletic and capable of covering a lot of ground.

In terms of positioning, X1 should be in the backcourt guiding the dribbler to a side. X2 and X3 must not come up too soon and wait until the dribbler crosses half. X4 (side where the ball is coming to) must anticipate the dribbler crossing half and getting up to cover the sideline player. X5 must stay low in case P5 pops into the key and gets a quick pass downcourt for an easy layup (which happens occasionally).

Now, if the opposing team keeps a safety back (probably P2), and they reverse the ball to P2, X1 must sprint to the other side and force the trap on the other side.

Trap the dribbler:

As soon as the dribbler passes half, X1 and X3 must trap P1 in the corner right away. If the trap is set properly with both players forming a T with their legs and hands in the face intimidating P1, it will be easy pickins' for your team all night.

If the other team has not prepared for your trap, P1 will probably force a pass to P3 on the sideline, so X4 must be prepared to intercept the pass and start the break. P2 sometimes will come to the middle so X2 must follow P2 and deny the pass. X5 should be checking P5 down low in case P1 is somehow able to get a pass down there, we don't want to give up a layup here.

The cross-court pass to P4 is the only pass we want to allow. And many times, because it is a lob, X5 can anticipate the pass and jump it to intercept. But you must tell your X5 that P5 is their priority. If they get the pass to P4, X2 will need to rotate down and we'll be in our base half-court defense.

Secondary Trap:

Sometimes, the team is able to get the pass into P3, especially if your X4 comes just a shade late. What we want to do if that pass is made is set the secondary trap.

X3 and X4 will set the secondary trap as soon as P3 gets the ball. X1 will deny the pass back up top. X5 will deny the pass down low. X2 is splitting the 2 backside defenders.

Oftentimes, you will also get turnovers off of the secondary trap. The cross-court pass is especially susceptible and usually results in a one-on-none the other way.


There is a couple of flaws with this press. The obvious on is if the other team brings P4 up to the middle near the top of the key. If that happens, you'll have to switch to a different press as once the ball gets into the middle, everything breaks down from there. Also, that early deep pass from P1 to P5 before P1 crosses half is one you have to watch for.

We use this press as our starter press, to increase the tempo and force the opposing team to adjust to our pressure. Sometimes, they never do, and it will be a long night for them. Well coached teams will switch and put a guy in the middle, then we'll switch again to a full-court press like the 1-2-1-1 or another 3/4 press.

Tom Crean hasn't created a DVD yet with any of his pressure defenses but this Bobby Gonzalez DVD shows you how to run it. Be sure to check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to discuss or request notes.