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October 2, 2009 • BasketballXs and Os

Basketball: The benefits of a ‘2280 control defense’

While the 3-point concept has changed the way we think offensively in basketball, it’s another story defensively.

At every level of play, the offensive goal seems to be get the ball out of bounds as quickly as possible, dribble penetrate to the offensive end of the floor, and attempt to shoot the basketball from somewhere between the 10-second line and the 3-point line.

Meanwhile, the defense will allow the 3-point shot and hope it’s missed so that it can continue the same strategy in the opposite direction. In other words, if we can make more 3-point shots than the opponents, we will win the game.

We’d have to say that it’s time to revise our defensive strategies to take away the things our opponents want to do. Make them stop and play us.

One of the best methods of doing this is by using the “2280 control defense” — a 2-2-1 zone defense that enables you to dictate game tempo, allows for more turnovers, and levels the playing field if your opponents happen to be faster than you.

The 2280 control defense is a replication of a 2-2-1 zone defense, defending 80 percent of the basketball court (see Diag. 1). Your goal is to make your opponent pass the basketball two to three times to get the ball across the 10- second line.

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DIAG. 1, 2280

A motivational quote: “If we give them a chance, they will turn the basketball over.” This will emphasize that we are not trying to trap or steal the basketball but use floor positions to make your opponent stop and play.

Your players must understand the difference between creating tempo and controlling tempo. This defense is only used to control tempo, dead balls, free throws and made baskets.

Place your players in the positions shown in Diag. 1:

• Player 3, large forward. This player’s responsibility is to force the dribbler toward the defensive left sideline. Attempt to make him pick up his dribble and pass the basketball crosscourt. If he continues to dribble, force him into a double team with 1.

• Player 4, quick forward. This player drops one step below the line of the basketball toward the middle of the floor and maintains a position so you can see the man and any player moving to the middle of the basketball court. Deny any passes to the middle of the floor.

• Player 1, large guard. This player shadows the dribbler and maintains floor spacing. As player 3 forces the offense’s guard toward sideline, 1 gets into position to double team that guard and force him to pass the ball.

• Player 2, quick guard. This player moves toward the middle of the floor as the dribbler is forced to the sideline. You must drop quickly to defend your floor responsibilities as the double team occurs. Look for any offensive player moving to the middle and as 4 moves to cover the middle, slide toward the sideline to discourage any sideline pass.

• Player 5, center. He or she must protect the basket. Do not let any offensive player get between you and the basket. Once you see that the dribbler is being forced to the sideline, move to the line of the basketball and discourage any long pass up the floor. If a long pass is completed, you must contain and stop penetration to give your teammates time to recover.

To stop dribble penetration, all defensive players must get to their assigned positions to discourage any pass up the sideline or to the middle. 3 forces basketball down sideline. 1 waits, moves up to trap the basketball. Players 2, 4 and 5 move into the passing lanes to look for steal. Encourage the crosscourt pass. Remember, the defense goal is to control tempo and make them stop and play.

Defensive player positions to force sideline, stop dribble penetration and encourage crosscourt pass (Diag. 2):

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DIAG. 2, Dribble Penetration

Defensive adjustment to basketball reversal (Diag. 3):

Once the crosscourt pass is made, defensive players slide back to the 2280 set. 4 funnels the offense’s 2-guard toward the sideline or into the double team with 2. 1 and 3 discourage middle or sideline passes. 5 drops to line of ball to protect the basket. If you force the offense’s 2-guard to make another cross-court pass, you have taken away dribble penetration and can set up your basic defense. 

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DIAG. 3, Basketball Reversal

Defensive adjustment to dribble penetration to middle (Diag. 4):

3 and 4 chase the basketball and try to deflect it to 1 and 2. If the basketball is not deflected, 1 and 2 move to stop dribble penetration and force ball reversal. 5 protects basket.

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DIAG. 4, Dribble Penetration to Middle

Defensive adjustment to middle pass (Diag. 5):

The most difficult pass to recover from is the middle pass. 1 and 2 must continually deny any pass to the middle. If a middle pass is completed, the closest defender must play the receiver so the other defenders can drop below the line of the basketball. Get into the passing lanes to prevent another forward pass. 

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DIAG. 5, Adjustment to Middle Pass

Defensive adjustment to sideline pass (Diag. 6):

1 and 3 drop and double team the offense’s 2. 4 slides to cover the middle. 2 slides to the line of the ball. 5 protects basket and doesn’t let anyone behind them. 

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DIAG. 6, Sideline Pass

Fundamentals to emphasize in practice

  1. Stress deflections. Deflections will create recoveries.
  2. Don’t let the basketball get past you, and force the dribbler to the sideline.
  3. Keep arms and hands high and active to deflect passes.
  4. Don’t leave your feet in a double team as long as the offensive player has his dribble.
  5. Stop dribble penetration by moving your feet.
  6. Deny all flashes to middle.
  7. If the basketball is passed over your head, sprint to the line of the ball.
  8. Never lose sight of the basketball.

This 2280 control defense will enable you to control the tempo of the game. It especially irritates a running team, forces it to make extra passes, and do things they aren’t comfortable with. This levels the playing field, especially against faster opponents.

This is not a complicated defense and can easily become a pressure defense if the need arises. Players like to play full-court defense, and this system will definitely make opponents stop and play.


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