We call our man-to-man defense "FIVE/ONE" because we are playing five defensive players against the one offensive player with the basketball.
We have a 'Success Formula' that we follow:
"3D + 3O = Success"
1. Make them shoot over you;
2. Only give them one shot; and
3. Do not foul.
1. Take care of the basketball;
2. Take good shots; and
3. Make your free throws.
We feel that if we can achieve these six objectives that we will be successful.
We have used the "FIVE/ONE" as our primary defense with great success for nineteen years. While at times we have toyed with the idea of playing pressure man to man as our primary defense (perhaps in moments of weakness when we thought it was the politically correct way to play defense). We've always quickly returned to our "FIVE/ONE" defense. While "FIVE/ONE" is not our only defense - we also have a half court zone defense, a full court zone press defense and a pressure man to man that we play in 'special situations'.
Throughout the history of the game of basketball this style of defense has gone by many names. "Sagging Man to Man", "Key Hole Man to Man", "Lane Man to Man", and "Total Team Help Man to Man" just to name a few. Recently, Coach Dick Bennett of the University of Wisconsin and Coach Mike Heideman of the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay have adopted this style of play in NCAA Division 1. Coach Bennett and Coach Heideman call the defense "The Pack".
We feel the major advantages of the "FIVE/ONE" defense are:
1. You do not have to be better athletes than your opponents to be successful.
2. You do not have to be quicker than your opponents to be successful.
3. You do not have to be bigger than your opponents to be successful.
The situation we usually find ourselves in is that our opponents are: better athletes, quicker and bigger than our teams. So playing the "FIVE/ONE" is our advantage.
Therefore a slower player can be assigned to a quicker opponent to guard and achieve success. His success is not individual success rather it is team success. While the "FIVE/ONE" is a true man to man defense, it is a man to man defense that has in reality five defenders guarding the man with the basketball.
Let's take a look at the defensive components of our 'success formula' (3D + 3O = Success).
MAKE THEM SHOOT OVER YOU.
Basically stated when your man has the basketball you must stay between him and the basket. This obviously prevents all lay-ups. For your man to shoot he must shoot 'over' you.
We work hard at not only being in a position where the offense must shoot over us, but we also must contest every shot with a hand in the shooter's face.
This defensive component also brings into play our philosophy of help defense. If the man that I have been assigned to guard gets a shot that is not over the defense. Not only have I failed in my defensive assignment but my four teammates on the court have also failed because "FIVE/ONE" is based on the concept of five defensive players guarding the offensive player with the basketball.
ONLY GIVE THEM ONE SHOT.
Defensive rebounding, 'blocking out' or 'boxing out' is a major component of our defense. We want to allow the opponent only one shot at the basket each possession, and that being a contested shot. We feel we can best accomplish this in our "FIVE/ONE" defense.
DO NOT FOUL.
There are many reasons we feel this component is equal in importance with the first two components. We tell our players that if they commit a foul they have actually made two mistakes. The first is the foul itself. The second is that they were not in good defensive position if they had to foul. We do not foul the opponent shooting a lay-up because if we are executing the first component, "Make Them Shoot Over You", there are no lay-ups!
We do not want to be forced to sit a key player or any player, because of foul trouble. We do not want the opponent shooting free throws because a free throw by an opponent violates our first defensive component - "Make Them Shoot Over You".
In the last seven seasons we have made more free throws than our opponents have attempted for the season. In the last 19 seasons we have accomplished this 13 times, coming close in three other seasons. For three seasons we adopted a very up-tempo styles of play. In this up-tempo style we pressed full court the entire game and fell back into a half court trap. But we still had the same no foul rule. In two of these season we made more free throws than our opponent attempted and in the other we were very close.
In the 1998-99 season in a key district game, on the road, we had 5 fouls to the oppoents 37 fouls. Of our 5 fouls 3 were given intentionally in the last 20 seconds of the game to cut time off the clock before the opponent could attempt a shot. In another key district game the same season, also on the road, we had 6 fouls to our opponents 28 fouls. Needless to say we won both games on the way to the District Championship. In 32 games (22-10 record) we had 15 games in which we had 10 or fewer fouls.