Friday, August 15, 2014

Guard the Tunnel

I was fortunate enough to spend some time yesterday with Brian LePlante from Rochester Community and Technical College (Rochester, MN). Coach LePlante's teams are known for their hard nosed, aggressive defense so we spent some time on that topic. One of my favorite pieces of knowledge was that he has his players "guard the tunnel". Coach is a big fan of pressure man and believes that too many players over help. His philosophy is that players are responsible for guarding their tunnel, an area 2-3 feet on each side, when guarding the ball. As the on ball defender you responsibility is to get the ball out of the tunnel. That means you have to defend the first 1-2 dribbles and push them sideways at least a little. You also are not going to get a ton of help in your tunnel. And if you get the ball out of the tunnel you shouldn't have to have too much help because you are pushing the ball handler on a trajectory away from the basket. This philosophy allows RCTC to deny the passing lanes very well. And when you deny passing lanes, you force offense to run much farther from the rim, making your defense more effective.

I love it because the terminology is simple and it strikes a visual cord. We can all imagine trying to guard someone in a tunnel and what that would look like. That visual/motor connection to me is very powerful. Whether I was teaching pressure man, pack man, or zone it is a term that I would definitely use.

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