Newsletter #270

July 19, 2023

Today's Quote:   "If you are a good team, your offense is born on the defensive end." - Don Meyer



Today's Theme:  the Pack-Line Defense

This is an introduction to the pack-line defense (refer to the articles linked below).  The pack-line is a variation of man-to-man defense developed by Dick Bennett at Washington State. His son Tony Bennett, Sean Miller, Chris Mack and many others use it now.

The packline helps stop the dribble-drive. It is is a gap defense, that still puts pressure on the ball.  It also puts your players in better position for defensive rebounding, and may result in less fouling.

The pack line is an imaginary line two feet inside the 3-point arc. The four off-ball defenders are confined inside that line, the idea being to clog the inside, protect the paint, and prevent dribble-penetration. Rather than on the line denial, they sag back inside the "pack line". 

Trapping press

Pressure the Ball on the Perimeter.  We want tight pressure on the ball, and defenders should close-out with "high hands" to contest the outside shot.  The on-ball defender contains and pressures the ball, but if beaten, the gapping defenders help stop the ball.

Stopping the Gaps.  It's hard to do all three things... deny, help and recover. In the pack line defense, gapping defenders only have to help and recover, and it is easier because the defender is already in position to give help, inside the pack line in a "ball-you-man" position. Defenders must re-position themselves as the ball and the offensive players move.  Players do go into complete deny when there is a loss of dribble, dead ball situation.

Deny Baseline.  Rather than forcing the ball to the baseline as in man-to-man defense, in the packine the baseline is denied. The ball is not actually forced to the middle... it's just that the baseline is denied. 

Post Defense.   Defenders should full-front the low post when the ball is at the top or in the corner. When the ball is on the wing, a 3/4 front from the top side is used by many coaches. This works because the baseline is denied by the wing defenders.

When the ball does get into the low post, you must decide whether you are going to play this with your post defender sliding between the ball and the basket and playing this 1-on-1, or whether you want to double-team with either the opposite post player, or a perimeter player. This may depend on your opponent... a strong post player, double-team. A weak post player and good outside shooters, play the post 1-on-1.

Some coaches prefer to "choke the post" with the ballside wing perimeter defender dropping inside and clogging the post (when the ball enters the post from the wing). When the ball is passed back out to the wing, that wing defender sprints back out and closes-out with high hands.

In defending the high post, deny that pass by 1/2-fronting. The defender must be careful however, not to get pinned outside and get beaten by the lob pass.  The sagging nature of the packline will often make it difficult for the pass to the high post.

Ball-screens.  The pick and roll is fairly well-defended, as the paint area is clogged with defenders. For details, see the linked articles.

In summary, the pack line defense will help stop the dribble-drive and clog the inside, forcing outside shots similar to a zone.  A disadvantage is the offense can take their time and dictate a slower tempo.  So if you are behind late in the game, the offense can "play the clock", and you will have to come out and start denying passes and trapping.   

Some teams might want to use both the usual man-to-man pressure defense (call it "Red"), and the pack line defense (call it "Blue"). 

See:  Packline Defense
Breakdown Drills for the Pack-line Defense


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