‘The Freak’ defense slows opposing offenses By Ryan Freeman, Burlington Williams High School, North Carolina

We have all tried gimmick defenses to steal possessions or slow down the opposition’s best player. “The Freak” defense is a modified triangle-and-two or box-and-one, depending on how you implement it into your defensive arsenal.

The defense works best if you have your two best overall athletes and your best on-the-ball defender on the floor at the same time.

Your best on-the-ball defender is X3, and they chase/guard the opposition’s best player. This defender has no weak-side or help defense responsibilities. Your two best post players play zone defense on the blocks. Specific post defense depends on the location of the ball and coach preference.

The Freak

DIAGRAM 1: On a pass to the corner, the post defender leaves the block and closes out halfway to the ball. Depending on the scouting report, you can either close out hard to the shooter or split the difference halfway. The weak-side post defender rotates across to the strong-side block to play low-post defense.


DIAGRAM 2: The two best athletes take on the majority of the defensive responsibilities and are the key components of the Freak. These defenders essentially split the court in half and guard the ball and high post. It’s important that these defenders understand whom they are guarding according to the scouting report (dribble-drivers, set shooters, etc.).


DIAGRAM 3: X1 sets up at half court. X2 begins at the top of the key. On the first pass, X2 rotates and guards the ball while X1 drops to the foul line. If the ball remains on the strong side, X2 is responsible for defending that side of the court.


DIAGRAM 4-5: X2 guards the ball until a skip pass or ball reversal is made.


DIAGRAM 6: X2 sprints to cover the high post, and X1 rotates to guard the ball if it’s reversed to the opposite side.


DIAGRAM 7: If the ball is entered into the low post, X1 or X2 can either dig or double down and trap.

If the offense’s best player receives the ball, X1 or X2 traps that player depending on which side of the court they are on. It’s the only trap made in this defense, and it occurs only because X1 or X2 can either dig or double down and trap.

If the opponent’s best player brings the ball up, you have the option of creating a hard trap just over half-court or showing a soft double team, forcing the best player to give up the ball.

The Freak creates chaos for the offense, forcing non-ball-handlers to make decisions and non-scorers to be offensive threats. It is extremely successful for stealing away a possession or two, and we have also used it for an entire quarter shutting down high-powered offenses.





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