December 23, 2019 • DefenseWinning Hoops

’22’ half-court press smothers ball handlers

by Doc Green, contributing writer

The “22” is a highly effective 2-2-1 half-court press defense. It has turned some of my average defensive teams into ball-hawking defensive squads.

There are many benefits to running the “22.”

  • It disrupts the opposing team’s offensive flow.
  • It speeds up the game for defenses and makes the other team take quick, difficult shots.
  • diagrams 1-2The “22” makes it difficult for offenses to get the ball into the post.
  • It takes the point guard out of the game physically and mentally. When a point guard is tired, they become frustrated, further disrupting the offensive flow.
  • It can be used at the start of a game the same way you would use a full-court press. This is especially effective against opponents that are a weak ball-handling team, or one without a strong point guard.
  • It’s a good defense to deploy at different points to change the tempo or to make a comeback.

The ’22’ half-court press: movements & traps

DIAGRAM 1: Basic alignment, initial movements. From a 2-2-1 set, when O1 dribbles over the half-court line, X1 and X3 overplay the dribble and trap the ball handler in a “V” formation. X2 and X4 play the passing lanes up high. X5 protects the middle.

DIAGRAM 2: Playing the wing pass to the right. If O1 passes to the wing on the right side, X1 and X2 overplay O2 when they receive the pass and trap them in a “V” formation. X3 slides over and defends against the potential pass to the middle, while X5 slides to the ball-side corner and defends any potential pass into the corner. X4 slides over from the weak-side help position and protects the basket.

diagrams 3-5If the wing pass goes to the left, the trapping and recovery actions would be reversed.

DIAGRAM 3: Playing the right corner pass. If the ball is passed into the corner to O4, X5 and X2 trap the ball handler in the corner. X1 drops down slightly and plays the passing lane in case O4 kicks it back to O2. X3 drops into to the middle of the lane to become the weak-side help defender. X4 drops down and replaces X5 in the post.

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If the ball is passed into the left corner, the trapping and recovery actions would be reversed.

DIAGRAM 4: Playing the dribble past the first trap. When the ball handler breaks the first trap by dribbling, X2 jumps up and cuts off dribble penetration and forms a trap with X1. X3 drops down, watches the backdoor and secures a weak-side rebounding position. X4 slides down to protect the basket or fills the post position. X5 slides to the right corner and plays the passing lane.

If there is dribble penetration past the first trap on the left side, coaches can reverse these trapping and recovery actions.

DIAGRAM 5: Playing the dribble into the right corner. If the ball is dribbled to the corner, X5, X2 and X1 triple-team the ball handler and try to either knock the ball away or tie it up.

X3 drops down to the foul line, watches the backdoor and secures weak-side rebound position. X4 drops into the lane to protect the basket or fills X5’s post position.

Doc Green is a former head basketball coach with the Silver Bullets basketball program in Northridge, California.