I have seen coaches go man-to-man anytime the point guard made the first pass to the right side, and go 2-3 zone whenever that first pass went to the left side. Some coaches will change defenses after a made free-throw, or after a time-out, or will call out defenses from the sideline. The only thing about all this… in trying to confuse the offense, you have to make sure your own players aren’t the ones who become confused!

Like selecting an offense, select a basketball defense(s) that best fits your team’s personnel, size, quickness, and strengths, and your own defensive philosophy. Some coaches stick to the same defense all season and try to perfect it. Other coaches will try multiple defenses, not only throughout the season, but within a game, switching between man-to-man and zone defenses, trying to confuse the opponent, and trying to stop the offense’s strengths.

Princeton Offense Philosophy: 11 Rules

Princeton Offense Philosophy: 11 Basic Rules

Basic Philosophy of Play

  1. If you can pass, dribble, and shoot well, you will always dictate to the defense what they do. If you can’t and are not fundamentally sound, they will dictate what you do.

  2. You must be able to dribble, pass and shoot, screen and cut – ON THE MOVE UNDER PRESSURE. The quality of your passing determines the quality of your shots! You must dribble with a purpose and the other four players must read the dribbler.

  3. Think change of direction–think five players high. Five players must work together.

  4. There is a counter for everything the defense does. Do the opposite of what the defense is doing. Must read the defense–are they playing hard or soft–any denial cut backdoor.

  5. Think layups and three point shots in that order.

  6. Don’t run to the ball!

  7. Hit the cutter with a bounce pass (it is OK to use one hand passes). The offense is about hypnotic cuts, passes and handoffs. Timing and cutting are essential to establishing flow and success for the offense.

  8. The Princeton Offense is more about cutting than screening. Move to open spaces. When you screen don’t just screen-screen- and read each situation.

  9. CUT CREDIBLY -look for the ball where you are coming open–then get back outside to perimeter as quickly as possible.

  10. STAND JUDICIOUSLY – Float to open spot and occupy your man. Have fingers up and butt down, think ball in air feet in air .

  11. Five players must work together. UNSELFISHNESS is more important than brains–must couple this with discipline.

One example of the Princeton Offense is the Chin Set. The set starts out in a 2 guard set and there are options for easy scoring opportunities or 3 point shots.


Chin Set Video Breakdown


Team Defense: Defending the paint vs Defending the Perimeter

Team Defense: Defending the paint vs Defending the Perimeter

Team defense is a term used to describe the philosophy of a team’s defensive objectives. All teams try to make it difficult on an offense to score. There are different ways to accomplish that objective. Michael Asiffo shares his insights on team defense by separating teams that prioritize defending the 3 point line aggressively compared to a team defense that focuses more on defending the paint.

Many casual fans of basketball assume that team defense is just an effort thing. I cannot tell you how many times I hear “he’s got to want it more” when a player allows a dump off pass. While basketball is an effort thing, a lot of it has to do with system.

team defense defending the jumpshot

For any casual fans reading this, team defense is a system as well. Like in any system, there are better pieces than others, but the system that one operates in can make them a better defender. A coach can get into numerous defensive schemes. However, each system attempts to do one or the other. Either attempts to force the opposing offence middle or to force the offence to the edge or corners. In other words, a team will value perimeter protection or paint protection more. This has been highly contested among coaches and has only become more prevalent due to the emergence of the pick and roll.

If you need a professional basketball league example of this, look no further than the Raptors vs Pacers series that concluded recently. The Raptors team defense opts to defend the paint, almost at all costs (just take a look at their first game against the Cavs). This is a stark contrast to the Pacers’ team defense which played aggressively on the perimeter thus sacrificing paint protection.

Here are advantages and disadvantages to both:


Defending the paint:

  • Teams do not allow back breaking easy buckets in half court sets often: this often means that big men do not get easy layups
  • Teams are able to contain penetration: for players whose games are predicated on the ability to finish at the rim, paint protection teams are their worst nightmare.
  • Force tough shots: the three is a tougher shot than a layup, therefore a paint protection team are “playing the percentages”

Defending the perimeter:

  • Force teams into live ball turnovers: perimeter players are typically the passers of the team. Thus, cutting off their passing lane to other perimeter players and big men allows for more bad passes. This ends up creating turnovers in live play, which usually lead to easy buckets.
  • Ball dominant guards struggle against perimeter defenders: ball movement is key against this defensive philosophy, if a guard holds the ball too long then disaster strikes for the offense.
  • The open three point shot is limited: players are shooting and making three points at a rate that we have never seen. The perimeter protection philosophy holds the shooters in check or at the very least to shot contested threes.


Defending the paint:

  • The three point shot is typically open: if the ball is able to go inside then out (i.e. drive and kick, post up pass to three) then the perimeter shot is available.
  • Players who shoot well gives this team problems: a player who can shoot well from the perimeter in a spot up or pull up situation will have good nights against a team that follows this philosophy.

Defending the perimeter:

  • Big men tend to do well against this philosophy: big men typically get one on one situations or dump off opportunities against a team with this defensive philosophy, making it really easy for a big man to have a good night.
  • Fatiguing: it is hard for players to consistently move with a player, making it tiring to sustain energy with this Philosophy.

Obviously, no smart coach completely goes to one side of the spectrum with these philosophies. A team values one over the other depending on its personnel. This is why two-way players are so highly valued, and so rare, because it allows for a system to go as planned by the coach.