It's a crazy time to be a basketball fan. Lots of local varsity hoop watching along with all the college action with the conference championships going on. I want to give props to Vancouver College Prep and specifically Junior guard Phil Scrubb for an outstanding game and the game winning bucket, they've punched their ticket to the finals of the BC High School Provincial Championship on Sunday.

Back to the college action, some fantastic games including that crazy 6OT game last night between UConn and Syracuse, that's almost 2 complete games back to back. Tonight, I took in Mizzou and Oklahoma State for the right to play Baylor for the Big 12 Championship. The game wasn't all that pretty to watch, but I felt the difference in the game (a close one) was a turnover here, a bad shot there, all generated off of Mizzou's soft press. Here are a few sequences from the second half,

I think a lot of people believe that a press has to be aggressive, take big risks, jump the passing lanes, etc... But when you get to these big championship games, the one and dones against skilled athletic teams, a soft press is much better. You may not force as many turnovers, or bad shots, but remember, the game could come down to just that 1 bad turnover or bad shot. In other words, don't take unnecessary risks that may leave your backend defense vulnerable to easy layups, but put enough pressure on the ball to get that 1 or 2 key defensive plays that might just win the game from you.

The last two sequences were examples of their soft press which they ran off and on in the second half. They only ran this one Run and Jump press just once. It's very basic but it was effective due to the element of surprise. If you run these stunts too much, the offense will adjust. So, X1 guides the ball-handler along the sideline. X4 steps up to double. X2 backfills for X4. X5 splits O5 and O2,

From the video, obviously it worked really well and caught the Cowboys by surprise.


In a close game like this one, Mizzou winning by 8, it's the one turnover, the one bad shot, which makes the difference. Oklahoma St. shot 21-for-59 (36%) while Mizzou shot 24-for-64 (38%). Oklahoma St. had 16 turnovers, Mizzou 10. Not huge margins, but again, it didn't need to be.

If you want your teams to play defense like Mizzou, then check out Mike Anderson's DVD on 40 minutes of hell. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk about this and your favorite basketball topics.