From last night's great game between ranked teams at the Jimmy V Classic, the Texas Longhorns against the Villanova Wildcats. It was back and forth most of the night but I thought Texas did a great job breaking the soft Villanova press and took advantage of open shots as a result.

Another thing I noticed was how Texas was aggressively defending the baseline inbounds play. From the first half, in two separate instances, the Longhorns forced the Wildcats to turn the ball over by aggressively denying on defense and putting a dynamic forward to defend the inbounds. In many ways, it's like how the Tennessee Vols defend the inbounds as well. Take a look,

Aggressive Inbounds Defense:

First off, they put a tall, long, athletic forward to defend the pass in Dexter Pittman. A 6-foot-10 forward/center, with long arms who can really bother the passer,

The rest of the defenders are in full deny 1 pass away. The only player they leave open is at the top of the key. #5, Damion James splits the 2 players up top. If they try (and that was the intent of the pass) to go over the top, it will have to be a long lob, which means James will have plenty of time and space to closeout, so the Longhorns are unafraid of leaving that player open. Meanwhile, they make it incredibly difficult to pass it short,


The first sequence is a little misleading because Pittman actually steps on the baseline and so therefore the ball should've gone back to Villanova. But the point is, that being aggressive on baseline defense is a great way to force turnovers. And especially late in games, it comes in handy as all of a sudden, you put an incredible amount of pressure on the offense to inbound the ball safely. It is the little things, like these, that help your team go from a good team to a great team, attention to the details.

For some more great info on special teams and special situations, take a look at Tom Crean's DVD on Winning Late Game Strategies. Coach Crean of course is the new head coach for Indiana University. As always, be sure to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to discuss this and more of your favorite basketball topics.