There are many factors that go into playing great pack line defense, but there are three in particular that are of the utmost importance and need to be stressed.
ELIMINATE EASY TRANSITION BASKETS
We feel very confident in our ability to defend. We need to make certain that we force our opponents to play vs. our pack line defense in the half court. Ways we can achieve this are:
- Offensive rebound with 3 players and send 2 back to defend the initial break.
- On turnovers, every player needs to SPRINT back and recover.
- Communication. We need to use both our VOICES and SIGNALS to let each other know what we are doing (use NITE).
- Build a wall and always STOP THE BALL first.
- Do not allow passes ahead and do not allow post touches in transition.
I heard a statistic one time (I can't remember where) that 95% of defensive transition mistakes are because of either 1. Poor Floor Balance, 2. Poor Effort, or 3. Poor Communication.
PROTECT THE PAINT
Paint touches are the #1 killer of any pack line defense. As an offense, we thrive on attacking the paint, so we understand the importance of protecting the paint from a defensive perspective. Ways we can consistently protect the paint are:
- Never give up a baseline drive. In pack line, there is NO help on the baseline. We need to make every effort to eliminate the baseline from our opponent.
- Pressure the ball handler. We want to apply as much ball pressure as we can without getting beat. This will be different for every player and team, but we need to communicate this in our scouting reports.
- Level off the ball handler on drives. Never let your opponent attack the rim in a straight line.
- Build a wall in the gaps. The ball handler should never see the light if he is thinking about getting into the paint.
- Closeout on shooters. Know your personnel and closeout at the right distance. Every offensive player is told to "attack the closeout," so we need to make sure we don't allow opponents to get past us. We have three types of closeouts that we do depending on the skill set of the offensive player.
CRASH THE GLASS
Lastly, we cannot give up 2nd chance opportunities. When we play defense we need to make sure we secure every loose ball that comes off the rim. Here are a couple ways to make this happen:
- All FIVE guys need to properly box out and crash the glass. Be aggressive and have the mindset of getting every ball.
- Be in proper gap/help positions. If we are always in position to defend, we will always be in position to box out and rebound.
Obviously, there is a lot more that goes into the pack line defense than these factors. However, I firmly believe that if we can execute and perform the basics, we will be laying a solid foundation to build on. As with anything coaching related, I am always learning and seeking out wisdom from other coaches in this area. Many of these principles I have talked about stem from the knowledge of guys like Jim Boone, Tony Bennett, Richie McKay, and Sean Miller. There are so many great pack line coaches out there, so I would encourage you to seek these guys out. If you have any questions regarding our pack line defense that we run, please don't hesitate to contact me! Good luck as you implement this tremendous defense into your program!