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Texas Tech Hoops | Ball Line Defense (Notes)

Some notes and thoughts on Tubby Smith’s famous ball line defense.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports


This weekend I stumbled across a website Bluff and Recover. It is a basketball community that shares excellent basketball recruiting and coaching experiences. Their mission is to spread basketball education and knowledge to other coaches through their website. If you are a basketball junkie like me, then it is worth your time to go read some of the stuff they have put onto their site. Don’t forget to check out the notes and plays of the day on their coach’s blog section.

As I was reading the coach’s blog, I came across a recent post that had clinic notes written on Tubby Smith’s famous ball line defense. These notes were in pdf form and created back in August of 2009, when Coach Smith was running the basketball program at the University of Minnesota.

I’ll transfer the clinic notes below:

Ball Line Defense

- Goals - (No lay ups, No 2nd shots, Contest every shot, Make offense make plays off dribble)

- Apply constant ball pressure

- Contest every shot

- Sprint to ball line

- Do not allow penetrating passes

- Allow non-penetrating passes

- Always see the ball and your man

- Play up the court – close to the ball

- Attempt to steal lob or bounce pass

- Jump to ball or every pass

- Communicate

Military Term

- HUA – heard, understand, acknowledge

On Ball

- If guarding the ball, yell "ball"

- Pressure the ball - (Deflections, Head on inside shoulder)

- Force ball to sideline/baseline

- When ball is dribbled try to turn dribbler

Off Ball

- Boxer stance - (Go for ball with hand closest to receiver)

- Two passes = one foot in lane

- 3 passes away = on mid-line

- Turn and sprint with each pass - (1st step most important step)

- Butt to baseline

After reading that, anyone that paid attention last season to our defense can tell that Coach Smith is still trying to instruct the same style D at Texas Tech. With this sort of defense you really want quick athletic players that can pivot and swivel with ease. Robert Turner is actually a perfect candidate for the ball line defense. It is no wonder why he was Coach Smith’s first recruit to Tech last year.

Our recent recruits seem to fit the mold of guys that can play in the ball line defense, especially the backcourt players. Our frontcourt will try to contest all the passes and shots inside, but the backcourt guys "on ball" have the responsibility fall on them to first deny entry passes and drives inside.

Overall last season we saw improvement from previous years in our defense. Not since Bobby Knight was head coach did I enjoy watching our defense work together. We were successful at times to suffocate the opponents offense with movement and pressure. I think as we progress this upcoming season the ball line defense for Tech will get even tighter and more disciplined. Wreck ‘em Tech!