Rules for playing man defense against baseline inbounds
One of the most important things teams try to do defensively is to eliminate cheap baskets. You can’t provide your opponent a much better bargain than if you’re allowing them to easily score off of baseline out-of-bounds plays.
Many coaches believe the best way to eliminate these cut-rate scoring opportunities is to play zone, even if they are normally a man-to-man defensive team. We’ve found that you can play man in these situations, but to do so, you must adhere to the following five concepts.
1. Do not guard the inbounder, use one player as a ‘safety.’
Make the offense play 4-on-5 until the ball comes inbounds. We tell our players that once the ball passes them in a baseline (or sideline) out-of-bounds situation, then they are out of the play. The man guarding the inbounder sets up approximately under the hoop with his or her butt to the baseline in a “point-your-pistols” stance, pointing both at the ball and at the other team’s inbounds formation. This player is called the “safety.” The safety’s head must be on a swivel, maintaining ball vision but seeing as much of the court as possible.
A big emphasis for us is eliminating the “screen-the-screener,” across-the-lane bounce pass for a layup. You can adjust the safety’s position depending on the scouting report to disrupt the lobs, block-to-block screening plays, stacks, or to help on any other situations that you think may be problematic. Once the ball is inbounded, the safety must recover quickly to his or her assigned man.
2. The other four defenders must use ‘see ball-and-man technique.’
Each player must be between their man and the ball, in a proper defensive stance, with ball vision.
3. The other four defenders must position themselves as if their man is going to cut to the ball-side block.
This is a critical point. Since the safety is protecting the backside, the other players are free to anticipate a cut to the ball side of the floor, and they need to maintain this positioning no matter where their assigned man goes.
4. The player being screened must go to the ‘man’ side of the screen.
In a normal half-court defensive situation, we “change out” or shoot the gap between the screener and the screener’s defender on screens away from the ball. This technique, however, isn’t as effective in baseline out-of-bounds situations, so we teach our players to get between their man and the screener. Since they’re already anticipating a cut to the ball-side block and they know the safety defender has their backs, they can make a concerted effort to beat their assigned man to the screen.
5. Call out screens, but do not switch.
As with any other part of the defense, communication is critical. Calling the screens in these situations prevents unnecessary switching that often leads to mismatches or the screener sealing and coming back to the ball for a high-percentage shot.