Tourney teams shouldn’t let one player beat them

With five outstanding individual  offensive performances in the Eastern Maine tourney quarterfinals, there arises a big basketball strategy question: Should one offensive player be able to beat you?

There are two theories to facing an outstanding face-the-basket offensive player. One, let them get their points and stop the other players on offense or two, try to stop the offensive threat and make the other four players on the floor beat you.

Evidently, the theory used in those five quarterfinal games was to let the players get their points and stop the other four players.

Five players scored 30 or more points in those quarterfinals: Van Buren’s Parise Rossignol (43), Hermon’s Tyler Thayer (40), Penquis’ Trevor Lyford (39), Van Buren’s Jacob Rioux (33) and Hodgdon’s Chris Hudson (30).

In the four boys games, no other player on their teams scored in double figures while one other player hit double figures in the girls game.

So the theory of letting a player get their  points and stopping the other players, which they did, didn’t seem to work.

When I was coaching, we always felt that we did not want a face-the-basket player beat us by having a big scoring night.  So we went with the theory that we would stop the high scorer and put the offensive pressure on the other players to beat us.

This theory worked more times than it failed as the other offensive players on the floor usually were not used to the pressure of having to score in order to win. They relied on their high scoring teammate to carry them offensively.

We did this by playing either a box or diamond-and-one on the opponents big offensive threat. Playing this four-person zone and one person man-to-man did several things.

First, we would double team the player with the ball if he was the opponents big scorer.

The player guarding one-on-one and the man in the zone nearest the player with the ball would double team him and force him to pick up his dribble and have to look to pass to a teammate.

If the high  scorer did not have the ball, then we tried to deny him the ball. We overplayed the passing lane to him and did not have to worry about any back door cut from him as there were defensive players in the zone ready to pick him up.

Any time the offense tried to screen the player either with the ball or without the ball, the nearest zone defender would switch and pick up the high scorer man-to man and the man who was screened would replace the zone player in the zone.

This forced the other four offensive players to carry the offense and many times frustrated the offensive star into taking poor shots or forcing the play off the dribble.

We just were determined that one player was not going to beat us, it was going to have to be the other four players on the court.

Sometimes if we faced a team with two high scorers, we would play a triangle-and-two. This meant we played the two offensive scoring threats and played a three-person triangle zone defense, using the same principles as we did in the box or diamond-and-ones.

These combination defenses were  known in the basketball world as junk defenses, but they  paid dividends  for us.