Last week, UALR was in Dallas to play SMU. Our head coach here at UD, Jarred Samples, is good friends with UALR DBO, Chris Lowry (bottom right picture). My good friend, Joe Golding (bottom left), is on the UALR staff as well. They needed a place to practice and we gladly offered our facility.
Being that SMU runs the Princeton offense and our first opponent, Southwestern, also runs Princeton, it was a perfect situation for Coach Samples and I to pick the brains of Steve Shields and Joe Kleine as well as our friends on how to stop it. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun to share ideas and hold a mini-clinic of sorts.
Obviously we were all on the same page when it came to not letting them beat us on backdoor layups. Coach Samples and I had talked about using the terminology "Gap it up". Essentially we wanted our players to clog up the gaps between the offensive players. I liked Coach Shields' terminology of "Loosen up". He wanted his players, especially on any screening action, to give the cutter's defender room to go under the screens.
Coach Kleine talked about playing "Below the line". Not just below the passing lane, but below the imaginary line that runs parallel with the baseline and midcourt line through the offensive player. Almost like being in a help position the entire possession: butt to baseline, seeing both ball and man. This gives the defender the advantage of already beating the cutter to the basket.
Coach Golding and I talked about ball pressure. Sure, we wanted our players to loosen up and get below the line, but only far enough where they could quickly apply tremendous pressure once their man caught the ball. We didn't want the ball handler to be able to see the entire floor and pick us apart. I teach our players the "Where the ball is, a hand is" in any on ball defensive situation. Coach Golding's terminology was "Get under him" as they wanted their players to get low and into the offensive player's body.
By loosening up and playing below the line, cutters are now forced to run through the defender. This alters their path and essentially jams up the continuity and timing. This is simply playing percentages. Both staffs were in agreement that we were not going to get beat on open layups. If they were going to beat us, it was going to be on contested perimeter jumpers.
Just for the record, we both won our first games. We only gave up 1 backdoor layup.
Another teaching point I took away from Coach Shields is jump stopping on screens. His players jump stop hard on all of their screens. He drills it where the players' almost drive the bottom of their feet through the floor and make a loud thud. Due to the fact we got called for a ton of illegal screens in our scrimmage, we instituted the jump stop screen. Our terminology is "Hear the feet". The cutter or ball handler can't come off the screen until they hear the screener's feet.