There are situations where you must never allow one of the opposing team's players to get the ball. This is especially the case in late game situations where you want to deny their best free throw shooter, or you are up by a basket and you know the other team has a play for their star player.


I saw a team that ran this last year and it worked like a charm. For personnel, you want a couple of really good defenders to double their star player, O1 in this case, the entire time. X3 is your best on the ball defender.

So basically the setup is a full-court M2M full denial press with a face guard on O1, the star player. No matter what happens, O1 will never get the ball. X3 is in the chest of his man, X4 and X5 are in hard denial, even if they come up to help. Many times, the other team will get a 5-second violation the first time they see it.

Ball Pressure:

If the ball is inbounded, the only pass we want to allow is to O3 in the corner. X3 is your best on the ball defender and will be in their face, making O3 work.

We allow the reverse back to O2 or whoever is the safety, and X3 will run over and pressure the ball again. If O2 passes back to O3 then X3 will shift again to cover. The key is in-your-face aggressive ball pressure. Again, if the other team hasn't seen this yet, they will probably turn the ball over because many times, the star player is the one that usually handles the ball in pressure situations.


Once across half, we still want 2 defenders on O1. If this is not a late game situation, you may want to switch back to a M2M, zone or junk. But in this case, if it is late, you may elect to stay with the double. Many times, a late play is designed for the other team's best player. If they can't get the ball to that player, they are often lost.

Of course, ahead of time, you want to do your proper scouting. Find out which of their players is the weakest offensively. That player is the one we want to double from. Your other 3 players should be able to play good enough help defense to at least take away any layups. You can live with the other team's weakest player shooting open jumpers, because they will probably miss.


I've watched a lot of teams that were one-man teams. Make someone other than their 30-point star player make a play. The team I saw this defense from completely shut down the other team's star player. In fact, the star player got so frustrated, he got 2 technical fouls and was ejected before halftime. It was a gamble by the other coach, but it paid off as they won by 20.

If you are looking for more defensive breakdowns, I highly recommend Tom Izzo's Defensive Drills DVD. Coach Izzo does a great job breaking down the fundamentals of man-to-man with progressions from 1x1 to 5x5. Plus coach Izzo goes through rebounding fundamentals. Check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum for more defensive notes to download.