"Helping coaches coach better..."

Newsletter #288 - March 27, 2024


Today's Quote:   "Basketball is not played simply with X’s and O’s. It’s played with both trust and confidence." - Isiah Thomas


Today's Theme... Man Defense - Deny the Wing Pass?

I sometimes hear coaches discussing which is a better defensive strategy, to allow or to deny the pass from the point guard to the wing.

Deny the pass to the wing.  Some believe wing defenders should play "on the line" and prevent the pass to the wing player.  By denying the pass to the wing, you may be preventing one of their best shooters from getting the ball.

Also, since the entry pass to the low post often comes from the wing, you make it more difficult for the offense to get the ball inside by contesting two passes (the point to wing pass, and the wing to low post pass).  Watch this video with Isiah Thomas on how to deny the wing pass.

Isiah Thomas on denying the wing pass

The disadvantages of this strategy include (1) the wing defender getting beat by the back-cut, and (2) dribble penetration by point guard.  In watching Isiah's video, the wing player is not going to get the ball.  BUT... in playing that way, is Isiah in a good position to help stop point guard dribble-penetration?  No.

Allow the pass to the wing.  On the other hand, some coaches prefer to force the ball toward the sideline, and allow the wing pass. Allowing the pass to the wing establishes your helpside defense, as weakside defenders move into helpside position, deny the pass into the post, and help prevent dribble-penetration. 

You might want to get the ball out of the opponent's all-star point guard's hand.  So allow the pass to the wing, and then deny the pass back to the point guard.  This gets the ball into hands of players less skilled than the point guard, and helps limit the point guard's effectiveness.

So which philosophy is best? As is often the case, you have to know your opponent, and adapt your strategy accordingly.  If your opponent's best players and best shooters are their wing players, then deny the wing pass.   Or if they like to enter the ball inside to a strong low post player via a pass from the wing, then deny the wing pass.

If the opponent's strength is their all-star point guard who likes to dribble penetrate, then pressure the point guard, have wing defenders X2 and X3 sag inside more (deny the seam), and allow the pass to the wing.  Then aggressively deny the pass back to the point and keep the ball out of his/her hands. Use this approach if your strategy is to force toward the baseline.

Also see Man-to-Man Pressure Defense.

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