A couple of posts ago we discussed Old School Defense and how it can be used to defeat a Motion Offense. Nowadays teams don’t make the investment needed to play OSD because it is energy intensive. OSD is based on stops more than steals. It creates turnovers by forcing the offense into making mistakes like taking poor shots or attempting passes they can’t complete to a closely guarded player. Most teams want to use their energy on offense especially on fast breaks, so defenses that aggressively look to make steals are popular.
Man and A Half is a Help Defense. Help defenses are based on the premise that the nearest secondary defender will help or make the stop if the primary defender gets beaten. Positioning is crucial. On ball defense is close but off ball defense is based on the possibility of the next logical pass and/or distance. For instance, a point guard with the ball at the top of the key is closely guarded. The next pass potentially to a player on the wing, is defended a step or two away and towards a possible secondary defender position. The secondary defender has to decide to close or help if the primary is beaten. If the ball handler is stopped, the secondary defender looks to prevent the pass to the outlet, primarily by making the steal.
A well-played Man and A Half is wonderful to watch. Defensive players are always alternating between tough defense and gambling on secondary stops or steals. Steals turn into fast breaks and fast breaks are easy scores. Man and A Half has to be efficient. Defensive roles and transitions must be smooth and immediate. A poor Man and a half allows scores when the primary is unable to make the stop, on back door cuts and too many fouls by secondary defenders.
Coaches decide on the type of defense played but the defense needs to fit team profile. Fleet footed defenses can play Man and A Half, but more important, players need to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Players need to know who they can allow to defend one on one and anticipate the steal as opposed to which defenders are likely to be beat and will need help.
This isn’t a Help and Recover defense. We’ll discuss that in the next post.