Men's Basketball: More on the pack-line...
In Saturday's story on the history of Virginia's pack-line defense, I wrote how Tony Bennett measures the success of the defense on how it defends three-point shooting. I've received e-mails asking about this criterion, considering the players who are not pressuring the ball are packed inside the imaginary line.
It's a good question. When I posed it to Arizona Coach Sean Miller, he said most three-pointers are the result of dribble penetration. The pack-line prevents penetration, forcing teams to pass around the perimeter. If the defense is played correct, the perimeter defenders remain in position between "ball and man" to jump out at the shooter once the ball is swung. The idea of the defense is for ever player to move within the "pack" together.
This was explained to me by the person who created the defense, Dick Bennett, who expected the three-point defense out of the pack as such:
"It's designed so that you can get from the help to the shooters. The ability from the help to the shooters is the key. If you're just so totally help oriented that you don't recover, it's just so easy to shoot over the top. But if you can anticipate the recovery, it really enables you to be in a position to help and then anticipate the recovery of the ball. You could get there -- and should get there -- just as it's caught. So, you're not going to be able to intercept the pass, but you ought to be able to affect the shooter.
"So, that's the key to it. But if you're going two ways -- in other words, you're going to help and then a recovery, that's too slow. It's got to be, you can be in the help position, thus have the pack mentality, so you can recover to the shooters."
January 27, 2010; 3:14 PM ET
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