“A good defender should always be in a “read” position to help teammates by leaving his own man to trap or cover open shooters. Each man must have the confidence that when he leaves his man to attack the ball, a teammate behind him will rotate to cover for him.”

Key Takeaways:
  • Wedge & Wall Rotation
  • Stunt & Recover or Rotate
Fan (Baseline) vs Funnel (Middle)

Dealing with rotations are at the very core for philosophical differences amongst coaches defensively. On the one hand deny defenses that are on-the-line and up-the-line force sideline and baseline which is dependent upon the presence of weakside defenders. Contrastly, packline defenses often are dependent upon early positioning to avoid dribble penetration and scramble situations.

Wedge & Wall Rotation

When a team forces sideline to baseline the on-ball defender opens their hips towards the baseline discouraging any drives to the middle. Inherently, this provides the ballhandler with an angle to drive baseline. To thwart any straight-line drives to the rim for easy baskets the defense depends on the weakside defender to “wedge-in” outside the lane-line preventing an open shot opportunity.

If a shot isn’t being contested at the rim, then the wedge by the weakside defender forces the rest of the defense to build a wall in the case of a pass made out. This is an example of the “Wedge & Wall” where the objective is to meet the offensive attack outside the lane line and build a wall that keeps any passes made directly into the paint.

Defending the Middle Drive

Referred to as “funneling” from Coach Del Harris is when a defense prefers to push the offense towards the help in the middle, as opposed to giving an advantage towards the baseline. The packline defense typically embodies this ethos; however, I will suggest (biased philosophically) that packline defenses are not looking to provide an advantage to the offense in either direction – baseline or middle.

If a defender were to get beat towards the middle the responsibility of the off-ball defender is to be in the gap likely “stunting” toward the ballhandler to prevent further penetration.

If the defender stunting creates too much space to get back to their personnel, then the weakside defender is forced to switch inducing a scramble situation. In that case, the original defender that had stunted on the ball will have to sprint to the nearest open man likely in the opposite corner or weak-side block.

Summary of Penetration Defense:
  • Good defender should always be in a “read” position to help teammates
  • When a ball is passed out of a trap the defender has to sprint to relocate before the ball reaches them
  • If a defender loses their man – sacrifice for coverage and sprint to relocate open man

“If all defenders are in good ball, man, and lane position, it will be much easier to attack penetrations outside and inside and to close down open players.”

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