Developing A Defensive Mind Set and A Fast Break Offense
Defense and free throws win basketball games. Incentives for defensive effort work like magic. My starting five are always the five players on the team with the best defensive effort in practice! A 'game ball' goes to the defensive player-of-the-game. At the end of the season the 'Defense MVP Award' goes to the player with the most defense game balls. Using this approach has provided surprising side-effects. My teams are actually savvier and tougher offensive players (picks, etc.), and our 'basketball team' transition efficiency from offense to defense and from defense to offense is astounding. We also 'press' the entire game. We practice man-to-man press and zone press. We practice flowing seamlessly from man press to zone press and back again. Expending this 'team' effort on our basketball defense pays off in another surprising way, the team's ability to understand, implement, and adlib offensive strategies.
A suffocating overall defense provides a basketball team with an inordinate amount of fast break opportunities. Fast break opportunities provide a basketball team with an inordinate amount of turn over opportunities because great defense, by default, creates an up tempo game; players from both teams are frequently out-of-position which can result in confusion. Fast break offense is mostly one-on-one, pick-and-roll, and give-and-go. Isn't it fortuitous that these three offensive strategies morph into 99% of all half-court offenses? Learning and practicing how to convert fast break opportunities into scoring opportunities allows a basketball team to simultaneously learn and practice defending the one-on-one, pick-and-roll, and give-and-go offenses.
Our basketball defense to fast break offense practices, after being completely understood by the entire team, are run at game speed. During games this pace doesn't feel foreign or frantic. Also each and every athlete plays all positions of basketball (guard, center, forward) on the basketball court daily in practice. By keeping the offense simple (give-and-go, pick-and-roll and one-on-one) and consistent all over the court, players never feel out of position or unable to recognize what's going on around them. When the entire team knows how to function at all positions of basketball (guard, center, forward) by default they know what to expect from their teammates, no matter where on the basketball court they find themselves playing.
Great defense takes an offense out of its rhythm and comfort zone. A stifling defense rattles an offensive basketball team individually and collectively. As a team, at any level of competition, if an offense never becomes comfortable it never becomes effective.
I'm telling you, basketball is a simple game. An offense designed around give-and-go, pick-and-roll and one-on-one basketball, and a basketball defense designed to defend a one-on-one, pick-and-roll, and give-and-go game.
Most of the time defense and free throws win basketball games.