Always see ‘Ball, you, man’
We have one more post this week on fundamentals of defense this week (see the earlier boxout and closeout posts) before we move back into scouting some players for next season. This post will be discuss the catchphrase I was taught for defense which is ‘ball, you, man’. Basically, those are the three things you should be able to see at all times when you are on defense off the ball. Lose sight of one of these things and a defensive breakdown is more likely.
What we have here is a possession from the tournament a few years ago. The player I want you to watch is #5 on Marquette, Scott Merritt (see below). Watch what happens as he shuffles down beneath the basket – this is where the breakdown occurs.
Did you see where the breakdown occurs? He started off well, as he shuffles down the middle of the paint, between the ball and his man so he is in strong help defense. As he moves through his own teammates, however, he turns his body to find his man. At this point, the wing player drives baseline which was left open since Merritt did not see the action happening.
Once he turned his body (and head) to locate his man, he was no longer in ‘ball, you, man’ position since he had lost sight of the ball. When the Kentucky player drives the baseline, Merritt is not there to cut him off. This leads to a wide open layup which is easily converted.
No matter what catchphrase you use, help defense is founded on this principle: Seeing the ball, your man, and knowing your position on the court. When one of these concepts is lost, the help defense breaks down and leads to easy baskets for the offensive team. This concept also works at all levels so feel free to use it the next time you are playing pickup at the Y.
Did you have a similar way of learning this concept growing up? Any other catchphrases out there?