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Basketball Defense - Viking 1-2-2 Half-Court Press

By James Gels, from the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook, @

This 1/2 to 3/4 court trapping press has given us more difficulty than any other press we've seen (most of which we break fairly easily). If you have three quick athletes (X1, X2 and X3) who play aggressively, this press can work for you, with only a minimum risk of giving up a lay-up.

See diagram A. The point defender X1 will come out beyond the half-court line and contain the dribbler and force the ball toward one sideline. X1 doesn't need to be tight on the ball at this point, but just contain it and direct it toward the side. X1 will close in tight as the ball approaches the half-court line.

As the ball is dribbled up the side, X3 reads this and slides to the middle, looking to intercept any pass to the middle. X4 slides toward the sideline to intercept a pass up the sideline. X5 must read the offense and if there is an offensive player deep, must be a safety against the deep pass. If no-one goes deep, X5 can cheat up and toward the middle.

If O1 crosses half-court with the dribble, X1 and X2 stop the ball and trap there. Ideally, you want to "invite" the ball to come just beyond the half-court line where you can use the half-court line and the sideline to help complete the trap. So ordinarily you do not want X2 to come across the line (unless it's necessary to stop a cross-over dribble move toward the middle).

1-2-2 half-court press defense 1-2-2 half-court press defense

Now let's say that before crossing half-court, O1 passes laterally to another player (O2) who then attacks up the opposite side (Diagram B). In this case, X3 plays the ball, X1 sprints over to help and trap, X2 slides to the middle to intercept any pass in the middle, X5 cheats toward the ball-side sideline, and X4 is the safety (but again, may cheat up and in the middle if no offensive player goes deep).

After the pass to O2, X1 should really apply pressure and get the hands up in the passing lane, to prevent the lateral pass back to O1. Once O2 crosses half-court, this lateral pass is really not an easy pass and can easily go "over-and-back" across the half-court line, especially if good pressure is put on the passer.

Looking at the lateral pass again in Diagram B, if the offense seems to be favoring a lateral pass to O2, sometimes X1 can anticipate this pass and actually get into that passing lane, deflect the pass, intercept and take it in for an easy lay-up.

In summary... it's a matter of keeping the ball out of the middle, and stopping it along the sidelines. When the ball is dribbled up the sideline, the defender denying the middle pass (X2) should not leave to trap until the weakside top defender (X3) can get there to deny that middle pass. This takes some quickness and anticipation from the top three defenders... quickness, long arms and athleticism. The two bottom players (X4 and X5) have to stop the pass to the high post and ballside sideline, and give help to stop the dribble when the press is beaten.

This press can cause nightmares for the offense if it is well-executed (I know from experience)!

Helpful DVDs:

Coach Donovan teaches the matchup press

Billy Donovan: Mastering the Full-Court Match-Up Press
with Billy Donovan, University of Florida Head Coach; 2007 & 2006 NCAA Champions, 2000 NCAA Runner-up; One of only two people ever to serve as head coach, assistant coach, and player in a Final Four
This defense has been the cornerstone of one of the most successful coaches and programs in the country. Coach Donovan walks you through his 2-2-1 full-court man press with stunting, and the 1-2-1-1 pressure defense. Using on-court demonstration and game film Donovan details each player's responsibilities, when and how to trap, and transitional coverage once the press has been broken. Included are basic coverages for all press breaks and breakdown drills... (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now

Coach Pitino teaches the matchup press and much more!

Rick Pitino 4-Pack (including the Matchup Press)
with Rick Pitino, University of Louisville Head Coach; former University of Kentucky Head Coach, NCAA Championship and three Final Four appearances; former NBA Head Coach (Boston Celtics and New York Knicks)
This is a two-disk set with four sections, including the Press Defense, Offense (Ball Handling), Offense (Shooting Skills + Fast Breaks), and Man-to-Man Defense. Coach Pitino explains how the press works at all levels of basketball, how pressing basketball can force turnovers, and confuse and fatigue opponents. Also shown are how to create shots with pressure basketball and when to use the press. A variety of teaching progressions explain how fouling negates hustle, the 1-2-1-1 all out steal press, and the match up press. Included among the several drills are 1-on-1 full court, 2-on-2, 3-on-3, 4-on-4, and much more... (more info)

Price: $79.99
Buy Now

Building the 1-2-2 Three-Quarter Court Defense

Building the 1-2-2 Three-Quarter Court Defense
with Mitch Buonaguro, former Siena College Head Coach
Master of the 1-2-2 three quarters court press, Mitch Buonaguro dissects every aspect you will need to feel comfortable teaching and installing an easy press that create havoc against any opponent. Coach Buonaguro describes to you the responsibilities for each player and position on the court. He uses on-court demonstrators to thoroughly teach the trapping and pressure points within the 1-2-2 trapping press, and includes ways to build in a secondary trap and how to fall into a 2-3 zone. Coach Buonaguro outlines every possible situation your opponent could think of in order to break your 1-2-2 press... (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now

1-2-2 Containment Press Defense

1-2-2 Containment Press Defense
with Bobby Gonzalez, Seton Hall University Head Coach; former Manhattan College Head Coach
Coach Bobby Gonzalez provides instruction and insight for implementing and effectively using the 1-2-2 Contain Press Defense. As a 3/4 court zone trapping press defense, the 1-2-2 Contain Press Defense can be used to create steals and deflections, slow down the offense, and shut down secondary break scoring opportunities. Using markerboard presentation and on-court demonstration, Gonzalez covers setup rules and player responsibilities for traps and 'bumps,' pass coverage rules, primary and secondary trap scenarios, late game scouting situations. He also uses ... (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now

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