Newsletter #263

April 18, 2023


Today's Quote:  "Good defensive play is as much a matter of hustle, desire and pride as it is anything else." - Tex Winter

Today's Theme... Defending Cutters (M2M defense)

An important element of good defense is to deny the pass to a cutter moving through the lane.  Here the defender tries to keep between his man and the ball, denying the pass.

One technique the defender can use is to "bump the cutter" off his/her intended pathway by getting position and riding the cutter away from the basket.  "Bumping" may not be a good term as it implies "hitting" the cutter, or something with contact.  Rather, it means getting inside position on the cutter, or at least an arm in front in the passing lane, much like ½ or ¾ fronting a post player.

The defender tries to beat the cutter to a certain spot on the floor, which really is no different than two players fighting for rebounding position…  both are entitled to that spot on the floor, it just depends on who gets there first.  So the defender must use good footwork and establish position... you cannot simply push or hold the offensive player.

An important point is "jumping to the ball" (see diagram below).  As the ball moves (either pass or dribble), defenders should "jump to the ball", or move a step or so toward the ball.  Not only does this help deny the pass, but also puts the defender in the cutter's path and the defender has a better chance of bumping and denying the cutter.  All defenders should learn to react to every movement of the ball.

jump to the ball

Examples of cuts to defend against are the "give and go" cut, a cut from the weakside wing (either with or without a screen), flash cuts to either high or low post, back-cuts, etc.  You must drill players on how to defend these various cuts.

One special circumstance... defending the curl cut.  See the diagrams below.  A good quick guard will sometimes run down low and curl around a post player in order to lose his man.  We believe the best defense here is for the defender to "chase" the offensive player around the screen as closely as possible.

defending curl cut

Sometimes I'll see the defender instead just drop back outside thinking the cutter will be coming back out to his original spot or the perimeter.  The diagram below illustrates the error in this thinking.  A good offensive player will read this and pop out to the corner instead for the skip pass and open three-pointer.

defending curl cut - wrong

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