4 Steps for Great Team Defense from Coach Dick Bennett

Dick Bennett — who is best known around these parts as the creator of the “Pack Line” defense (and as Tony Bennett’s father) — has a simple four-step checklist for defense that I believe every coach would benefit from adopting.

As follows:

1. Get Back and Stop the Basketball

As we chat about all the time in these emails, transition defense is incredibly important for any team that wants to be competitive.

Get back first, and then man up.

While it can be better to quickly close down on the ball-handler in some situations, most of the time it’s better to put your first focus on protecting the hoop.

2. Eliminate Easy Baskets

If you lose because the opposition team knocks down a bunch of contested three-pointers and well-guarded layups, most coaches can live with that.

What we can’t live with is losing because we allowed EASY points.

> Layups

> Fast break points

> Wide open three-pointers

If your team can eliminate the “easy points” and force opposition players to shoot with a hand in their face, you’ll dramatically increase your chances of winning.

3. Keep the Ball Out of the Lane

This is where Mr. Bennett’s famous “Pack Line” defense came into play…

The strategy he employed was to instruct players one-pass away on defense to stay in the gaps instead of denying their opponent.

While this made it easier for the offense to pass around the perimeter, this defensive strategy made it very difficult to get dribble penetration.

Combined with great 1-on-1 defense, the offense is in for a tough night.

4. Bother Shooters

Last but not least…

Ensure every opposition shot attempt is contested.

This requires all 5 players to be locked indefensively.

If someone gets beat on the perimeter, help defense must be in the correct position to rotate quickly and trap or contest the shot.

Never allow them to get a clean look!

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