From UMass to Oklahoma State, Travis Ford from UMass to Oklahoma St, how about that for a segue. Anyways, some great games yesterday. I watched most of the Big12 game between ranked Baylor and Oklahoma St, and what a game it was. The Cowboys got the early lead, Baylor stormed back, then the Cowboys, then a 12-1 run by the Bears to force OT, then the Bears finally outlasted the Cowboys.

What I wanted to show was Oklahoma State's defense. Specifically, how they shrink the court and play very physical. It's the kind of defense we all would like our teams to play I would think. Here are a few sequences from the first half,

Shrink the Court:

You hear coaches say it all the time, "shrink the court." But what does that really mean? Well, it means what it says. As a defense, you want to shrink the available court where the offense can use. How do you do that? Well, there are a number of ways, obviously a trap can do it, or you could overload. The traditional way through a M2M defense is to force the defense to the baseline to help. The Cowboys do a great job of doing this,

Now, this raises the contentious debate of whether you should force middle or baseline. My opinion, forcing baseline limits the offenses options. But forcing middle can be effective as well depending on whether you have the personnel. The fundamental principle though still holds, I like defenses that dictate the offense, rather than passive defenses that react to the offenses first move. Be the aggressor.

Taking Charges:

The Cowboys as shown do a great job taking charges. This is another contentious issue as some coaches believe taking charges can be a game-changer, others feel it is over-rated given the inconsistency in reffing. My personal opinion, just teach good defensive stance and positioning, both on-ball and help side. Obviously, players need to know the basic fundamentals of taking the charge (contact, then fall on your butt). But I don't think you necessarily need to emphasize taking the charge. Emphasize stance and positioning and the rest will take care of itself (refs, fouls, etc..).


This game was really interesting from a coaching perspective in that both had very different defensive philosophies but offensively both were very similar. Travis Ford of UMass brought the hard M2M defense, a lot of hard hedging and half-court traps, more fouls. Baylor on the other hand was much more of a zone defense, some M2M but very pack like, less fouls. Offensively, both are very explosive, like to run. Baylor is a very talented team offensively, probably one of the best I've seen so far this season.

For a truly unique video on forcing baseline, check out Seth Greenberg's new DVD on the Defensive Stance. Greenberg does not believe in 'step and slide' and prefers short quick choppy steps resulting in the offense going through you, interesting stuff. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk about this and your favorite basketball topics.