“A good defense will not allow the ball to be reversed easily, since reversal breaks down the weakside defense and puts a lot of pressure on the inside defenders to change their body positions to prevent an inside pass. Any number of bad things can happen to the defense when the ball is reversed easily and frequently.”

Key Takeaways:
  • Swing Spot
  • Fan vs Funnel Defense
  • Successful Switching

The swing spot is located at the top of the key, often where the ball is centered offensively for ball reversals or initiating actions. Depending on halfcourt defensive philosophy teams intend to alter the ease of moving the ball to the swing spot limiting the number of ball reversals in a possession.

Fan vs Funnel

When a team is playing in a fan mode defensive style of play it is essentially trying to pressure the offense towards the sideline and baseline. While defenses in funnel mode look to push offensive teams towards the middle where the help is centrally positioned. Most often fan mode teams are considered on-the-line and up-the-line denying offensive personnel. Conversely, funnel teams are often referred to as packline teams intending to clog driving alleys by being in the gap.

Here was a great floor shot of two contrasting styles of defenses demonstrating fan (Duke) versus funnel (Louisville):

What you will see is teams intending to fan the offense sideline and baseline look to discourage the number of ball reversals in a possession. Funneling defenses are less concerned with ball reversals and more concerned with thwarting any dribble penetration to the paint conceding contested midrange jump-shots. Advantages and disadvantages exist with both defenses which makes the game all the better. Take into consideration teams like Texas Tech and Duke (on the men’s side) having found recent success with their fan mode defensive style of play. And then there are teams like Virginia as the poster-program of packline defense portraying a funnel style of play.

Switching Defenses

Contemporary basketball has evolved to become more and more positionless. Thus, the need for switching defenses has emerged. The author listed “Four Basic Guidelines for Switching”:

  1. Switch with teammates of equal or near-equal size on screens and crosses.
  2. Switch to keep big players inside and small players outside on screens.
  3. Switch within fifteen feet of the goal
  4. Use the “emergency switch rule” – to challenge/contest any shot.

The professional game has popularized small-ball and switching defenses with the recent success of NBA franchises Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors. The decision to play a smaller lineup has uniformed personnel to be in a position to switch all screens. And considering the constant use of the ballscreen it has mitigated a lot of the disadvantages that are created in a lot of 2-man actions. Additionally, the game has gone further and further away from post play with less traditional frontcourt styled players, so switching guards onto presumable “bigs” have been less damaging to defenses because teams’ inability to play with their back to the basket.

“The reason for switching follows the basic principles of challenging every shot possible, forcing an extra pass, and of taking away an opponent’s preferred options to force them to do something other than they want to do. Overriding every other reason for switching is our firm belief that mismatches won’t beat us, but open shots will. Easy open shots will beat the defense at every level.”



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