Man-to-man is the best defense, but junk has some advantages

Coaches frequently face questions of what they should use for a defense.
They often ponder what half-court defense should be used: zone, man-to-man or a combination.
Over the 29 years I coached at the high school level we were mainly a passive, help, sagging, man-to man defense. However, there were times when we had to go zone or even to combination defenses.
Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of all three.
MAN-TO-MAN DEFENSE — Advantages: 1. Individual responsibility and accountability. 2. Better able to block out on defensive boards. 3. It is a team defense
Disadvantages: 1. It is harder to teach and learn. 2. It is only as strong as its weakest link in the defensive chain.
Types of man-to-man defense: Sagging, helping, man-to-man or denial up pressure.
ZONE DEFENSES — Advantages: 1. Easy to coach and play, 2. May reduce fouling, 3. Cuts down on effectiveness of inside game, 4. Slows down the pace of the game, 5. Makes teams shoot from outside
Disadvantages: 1. No accountability. 2. Guarding area not a man. 3. More difficult to block out on defensive boards. 4. If you get behind eventually you are going to have to come out and play man-to-man. 5. Harder to cover ball as a pass moves faster than a dribble. 6. Gives up more open 3-point shot looks with ball movement. 7. It is a  defense that has a tendency to make the defenders lazy.
Types of zone defenses: 2-1-2, 2-3, 1-2-2, 3-2, 1-3-1 and 1-1-3.
COMBINATION DEFENSES: Advantages: 1. Use combination or junk defenses in order to not let one or two players beat you. 2. Many times it confuses teams because they are not prepared for it. 3. They try to have the player(s) being guarded man-to-man still try to beat you by running off screens and screening the player’s defender. This wears out the offensive player and many times it frustrates him, 4. Other offensive players get involved.
Disadvantages: 1. A gamble that the other players can’t beat you. 2. Players guarding areas not players. 3. Harder to block out like zones on defensive boards.
Types of combination junk defenses: Box and 1 and Diamond and one — four players playing zone and one playing man to man; Triangle and 2 — three men playing zone and two playing ma-to-man  and 3 a line –two players playing zone and three playing man-to-man.
In our helping, sagging man-to-man defense we had basic team rules: 1. We switched on all screens when guarding the player with the ball. 2. We opened up and slid on all screens away from the ball. 3. All players without the ball kept a guarding triangle of: the ball, you and the man you are guarding. 4. We drove all dribble penetration to the middle, not the baseline. 5. We forced point guards to dribble with their weak-side hand. 6.  As soon as the offense shot the ball, our players would run toward their man to face him and get ready to block the player out on the rebound.
When we played zone defense we usually played 1-3-1 because we had a good lead or had foul trouble or could not handle the opponent’s post player.
The 1-3-1 zone’s open spots for 3’s are the corners because the point and wings are taken away. We encouraged our opponent’s offense to shoot from the corners  because corner shots have the lowest shooting percentage.
It also takes the opponent’s big man away from the ball at the low post and if teams shoot from the corners, 90 percent of the time missed shots go to the opposite side of the basket which takes the big man off the offense boards.
You will see a lot of zones in Classes D and C, but not in Classes B and A. Usually, the bigger schools have more athletes to play man-to-man defense.
If I was coaching in college,  I would use a lot of zone because of the shot clock. Syracuse has great success with its 2-3 zone.
We had a great deal of success using junk defenses combining man-to-man and zone. We only played these defenses when we did not want one or two players beat us. In these situations we wanted the other four or three players to beat us.
My first choice is man-to-man, second is a 1-3-1 and the third  is a junk defense.

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