‘Cut-throat drill’ builds man defense From Brian Barnes, The Sage Colleges, Albany, New York

Every team needs a solid drill to use when building their man-to-man defense. For this drill, divide into three teams with a coach on the baseline holding the ball.

DIAGRAM: Four defensive players start underneath the basket. Four offensive players start on the perimeter with two in each corner and two about three feet off the lane line but outside the 3-point line. The third team fills in behind the offensive players and waits to enter.

The coach throws the ball to one of the offensive players and yells “close out!” The defensive team closes out hard and the play is now live.

A point is awarded for a defensive stop. If the defenders get a stop, they stay on defense and the new offense comes onto the court. If the offensive players score a basket or get fouled in the act of shooting, they become the new defensive unit. The first team to seven points wins.

There always is a new team on offense after each possession. As for fouls on the ground, check the ball with the same two teams and close out again. If there is one offensive rebound in a possession, the defense cannot be awarded a point. If the defenders eventually get a stop, however, play the same two teams again. If there are two offensive rebounds in a possession, this sends the defensive group to the end of the line and the offensive group becomes the new defensive unit.

The coaching staff can switch out the defense at any point for not executing any of the defensive principles used to build your man defense. That includes failing to close out, apply strong ball pressure, lacking communication, allowing dribble splits or dribble penetration down the middle, and not defending screens properly.

This is a terrific drill to build your man-to-man defense. It’s competitive and the players love it — especially the aspect of removing a team from defense for not executing what you’re looking to implement. Rarely do you need to kick the same team off twice in a row for making the same mistake.