UNC illustrates the concept of team defense
One thing I will preach on here is that defense is a team concept. It takes all 5 players to play strong defense on any given possession and a mistake by one defender will likely lead to an open shot by an offensive player.
UNC illustrates this concept in the following clip, as Deon Thompson plays outstanding individual defense but a breakdown by Will Graves gives Wake Forest’s Ari Stewart an open look at 3. Let’s look at what happened.
Thompson forces Chas McFarland into a tough position for McFarland. Thompson knows that McFarland is not a strong ball handler, so he puts pressure on him at the top of the key to try to coerce him into making a mistake. McFarland puts his head down and starts to drive toward the basket.
Thompson stays with him on the dribble though, and looks to be able to defend any shot McFarland puts up. McFarland is not athletic enough to jump over Thompson, and Thompson will likely defend any shot McFarland puts up.
However, Will Graves makes a poor decision on defense and negates all the great defense plays by Thompson. He is caught in the middle, not helping on McFarland and not sticking with Ari Stewart. He should know that McFarland is not a threat to score in that position and Stewart is a dangerous 3 point shooter.
He has two options in this position: Try to draw a charge from McFarland or stick to Stewart. If he wanted to draw a charge, he could have taken one more step to his right and likely have gotten a charge call.
His other option would have been to stick to Stewart and not given help to Thompson. Thompson had McFarland locked up and McFarland was not a threat to score in the position he put himself in. Thompson got caught in the middle, however, and neither drew a charge or was able to properly close out on Stewart.
Stewart has a quick release and Graves was too far away to be able to close out quickly enough to challenge the shot from Stewart. If he would have made a strong decision to defend one player, the play likely would have ended in an empty possession for Wake Forest. He was unsure of what to do, however, and his poor defense negated the great defense by Thompson.
This shows that one player’s mistake can nullify another player’s good defense. Here, Graves’ indecisiveness on whether to fully commit to drawing a charge or sticking to Stewart bailed McFarland out and gave him an open lane to pass to Stewart for an open 3.
Defense is a team concept and needs all 5 players to be committed to the cause and make the right decisions. Here, Graves made a poor decision and it cost UNC in the end.