Defending the Pick and Roll

Most coaches will see the pick and roll in some form or fashion, no matter if they are coaching a recreation team or a pro squad.

From a college coach’s perspective, I believe what is important when defending the pick and roll is that you have a game plan as to what you want to accomplish.

As a head coach, my philosophy was to have a particular way to defend the pick and roll and build off of it. We would play the pick and roll differently on side pick and rolls and also differently at the top of the key and at different times in the shot clock.

This was our “base defense” and our players knew what we were trying to accomplish on each and every ball screen.

In addition, some coaches may defend the ball screen based upon who is in the action (i.e. big on little, little on little, etc.) whereas other coaches define the ball screen by location on the court or origination point. That is all personal preference and what coaches feel comfortable coaching.

Nevertheless, I also think that as a head coach you have to prepare your players to defend things differently depending upon your opponent and their strengths and weaknesses.

For instance, in certain games, we were going to just do what we do. We felt as though we wanted to send a message and not deviate from our strengths.

In other games, we would mix it up based upon their personnel, especially if they were familiar with our base defense and we wanted to surprise them or just take some thing away from them that they did well (i.e. switch pick and pop teams).

Some coaches take this philosophy to the max, such as Bulter’s head coach, Brad Stevens.

Coach Stevens likes to change how they will defend the pick and roll every media timeout. Mixing it up every four minutes gives his opponents things to think about during the game. It philosophy also makes Butler’s opponents use precious time working against traps, hard hedges, soft hedges, switches, going over, going under, etc. in the practices leading up to the game.

I believe that you can get more complex with your sqaud if you take the necessary time to work on the different defensive responsibilities in the pick and roll. It is not something that is easy and, again, takes time and patience.

What you will be able to present to your team is really how much you think your players can handle from a basketball IQ standpoint and what you are comfortable teaching.

Whichever X’s and O’s fit your coaching philosophy, hopefully you decide to discuss with your coaching staff which way best fits your personnel when defending the ball screen.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

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