It's extremely important to know your opponent going into every game. After all, that is why you have assistants do all that scouting and breakdown of game film, isn't it? I watched the first half of the Tennessee game against Vanderbilt and the Vols really put on a clinic on closing out on shooters, and playing great M2M defense in the halfcourt.

The Vols used their full-court press as usual. But what really made the difference in the game was the Vols ability to shutdown the deadly shooters on Vanderbilt. Going into the game, Vanderbilt was the best team in the country shooting the 3-pointer at 43.9% and averaged 9.3 per game. When the game was over, the Commodores ended up shooting just 3-for-21 on 3-pointers. Was it just a coincidence or did the Vols really man up. Take a look for yourself at a couple of sequences of the stifling half-court M2M defense by the Vols,

If you play teams that are great 3-point shooters, you have to play tough M2M defense and close out well. Zones don't usually work well because a good shooting team will reverse the ball and go over top of you all day. Pressing may work but if they break your press, watch out for those wide open fast-break 3-pointers.

Contesting Shots Drill:

I've used this drill before to emphasize good form in contesting shots from help side to closeout. It's important that your players have good reaction skills to jump while the ball is in the air then closeout properly, contest the shot with high-hands, then box out the shooter. You can adjust where the shooters are to emphasize the mid-range all the way out to 3-pointer.

Lineup 3 shooters and 1 defender as in the diagram. The coach is behind the defender with the ball. The defender is facing the shooters as he would in a help-side defensive position.

1. The coach passes to any one of the shooters.
2. X1 must reach the pass, pressure the shot, and box out the shooter.
3. Repeat. Make the defender go until 3 stops with 3 rebounds.

This is also a good drill to practice shooting of course.

Get Bruce Pearl's DVD on the Encyclopedia of Pressure Defense, if you want to learn the Tennessee pressure defensive philosophy. And don't forget to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk about this and your favorite basketball topics.