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Thread: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

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    Default Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    This will be the first of 7 articles I am going to post concerning the Pacers current defensive system under Jim O'Brien. This series will encompass the keys to an overall defensive structure as I see them in a generic sense, then compare and contrast what we consider to be what the Pacers current staff has implemented here with our current roster.

    First, a couple of comments.

    Obviously, a team and its overall individual strengths and weaknesses have some effect on how well something you implement works. While I am completely aware of that and will no doubt mention our particular players within the scope of what I write, this will be more defensive theory than exact strategy.

    My plan at this time (while it may change as I type these) is to give my thoughts on how a team in my opinion SHOULD build a team defense, and then I'll contrast that to what seems to be actually happening. The theory of these I hope will be to discuss the various choices coaches have to make when implementing a plan, and discuss whether the choices our Pacers have made need to be tweaked from a strategic point of view.

    The long term view of this thread I hope will be to identify what our Pacers can do to become a better defensive team not from a personnel standpoint necessarily (although that is an obvious need) but from a "system" standpoint.

    Hopefully, we can engineer some good discussion points, ask each other some good questions, and hopefully all learn from each other, even if disagreement may eventually still exist.

    For my purposes, I'm breaking down this "manifesto of defense" into the following parts:

    I. Where defense begins: Pressure at the point of attack
    II. The intricate details of wing defense
    III. Help side defense: a thorough examination
    IV. Fighting over screens away from the ball
    V. Defending the low post
    VI. Defending the screen/roll
    VII. "Spillover": How offensive strategy ties into defensive game planning

    Depending on how this goes, I may add an part VIII: Defensive conclusions: A summary of what we have learned and what we think.

    With all of that established, let me now begin.






    Part I: Where defense begins: Pressure at the point of attack

    In my judgment, the success of an overall man to man defensive strategy begins here, at the point of attack. It should be the responsibility of the point guard defender to pressure the ballhandler of the opponent. This ideally should occur right at the half court line, or if possible, a couple of steps before that.

    We've discussed this before, but let's review some of the reasons why POINT GUARD PRESSURE is so critical in my judgment:

    1. It takes future time off the shot clock for our opponents to use against us. This may keep them from making one extra pass per possession.

    2, It limits the playbook options of the opposing coaching staff. They may have to limit their set play choices if their first pass to initiate their offense is forced to be a few seconds later than they plan.

    3. Pressure on the ball can sometimes "steer" a ballhandler to a particular side or area of the court you may want them to go. In other words, point guard pressure can make the opponent be in a "reactive" state, instead of you being reactive.

    4. Point of attack pressure can eliminate the chance for communication between the opposing coach and his point guard.

    5. Point of attack pressure changes the geometry of the game, perhaps making the offensive wing players cut further up onto the floor to help alleviate the pressure and start their set plays slightly off from where they have practiced.

    6. Point guard pressure can have a cumulative effect from a fatigue standpoint, hopefully causing mistakes and tired legs for later in the game.

    7. Point af attack pressure can create occasional extra turnovers, leading to fast break transition opportunities.

    8. Point of attack pressure sets a "tone" of a defensive mentality to your entire team, hopefully that effects the intensity of the rest of the players on the floor, and perhaps even the home arena.

    9. Point of attack pressure causes your opponent to have to use valuable preparation time before the game planning to counter it, keeping them from using their time to learn to attack other weaknesses you may have.

    There are probably a dozen other reason why point guard pressure at the point of attack is a highly effective and important defensive weapon.

    Now, there are downsides to applying major man to man pressure that far from the court. The obvious one is that your point guard may get beat off the dribble immediately before a pass is even made, and your entire defense can be compromised if that happens for that possession. Others are that it is physically demanding, and likely will require your own team to need to substitute more at that position, requiring you to play your subs more minutes over the course of a season at this particular position. There is also a greater likelihood of your point guards picking up fouls 50 feet or more away from the basket.

    As a coach, you have to weigh all the pros and cons of this as it relates to your own personnel. If you have a slower point guard, or one older, maybe you wouldn't pressure as much. If you have a quality starter but an extremely poor backup, maybe the risk of having to play this inferior player too many minutes isn't worth the advantage of having your starter pressure the ballhandler that hard. Or maybe you need your point guard to score a bunch of points for you, and this much intense defense limits his own offensive effectiveness.

    One of the reasons I thought Indiana would be much better defensively than it has turned out to be was what appeared to me ot be a huge upgrade defensively (at least from a physical standpoint) with the additions of T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack. I believed in the summer and pre-season (and actually, I still do) that this was an almost ideal tandem of players to play the point guard position from a defensive pressure at the point of attack standpoint. Knowing we were going to play these guys nearly equal minutes, knowing we now had the quickness necessary to apply pressure, and knowing we had other defensive personnel issues that point of attack pressure could help hide, I thought we might be seeing the best point guard defensive pressure we've seen in Indianapolis since Haywood Workman. I expected consistent and relentless attacking, hounding defense on our opponents as they brought the ball into the frontcourt.

    The decision to not emphasize point of attack pressure and instead retreat to the three point line area is probably one of my biggest disappointments with this team and this coaching staff. I hated watching it, but I understood why the Pacers had to play this way with Tinsley playing this position....he neither had the desire or the physical quickness to pressure the ball without getting completely toasted often. Playing further back to keep his man in front of his was what he had to do. But this roster was ideally suited to not need to do that, but our staff has chosen to do that anyway.

    It is these kind of discrepancies.....a difference in how our roster is put together and its strengths vs how our staff sees the game, that led me to write early in the fall that I didn't feel that Larry Bird and Jim O'Brien were on the same page as much as was commonly thought.

    Some coaches really don't emphasize involving their point guards in help situations, as they want them to concentrate on pressure. However, obviously Coach O'Brien and his staff feel they want their point guard in more of a help position, even after just one pass early in the shot clock. This isn't a new thought....many coaches in many staffs at all levels believe that this is the way to play. In some coaching circles it is known as the "pack line" defensive philosophy....emphasizing help over pressure.

    My big disagreement is that I think you could have meshed both philosophies a bit better. I think an athletic poijnt guard pressuring the ball is more important than being in an early help position near the top of the key. Even if you believed that having a guy near the top of the key early in a possession was more important than I do, you still with hard work can have your point guard pressure and then "dive" quickly back to a help area.....although, like I said I think that is somewhat silly personally.

    The next time the Pacers play, watch how far up the floor our point guards are asked to pick up and engage the opponent's lead guard. Try and decide of you think that is the proper "pick up point" or not, based on what we are trying to do, or should be doing.

    I want to be clear: our point guard defense and where we pick guys up is a coaching decision....it is not just a player being too lazy to get out there. Our coaches have clearly decided to back off inside the three point line, for whatever reason.

    Now, to give the staff the benefit of the doubt, maybe they saw in practice or on film that our point guards are slower and weaker than I believe them to be. Clearly, Jarrett Jack particularly is getting beat off the dribble from the top some of the time anyway, although I would tell you that is more from recovering poorly from help position instead of just completely getting beat athletically.....Jarrett has poor balance I think particularly when coming up from a help position to a recovery position in a closeout situation.

    But my major nag on this exact subject is that I do not believe this is a great analysis of our personnel. Instead, this is a philosophy believed in by Coach O'Brien that he would implement no matter who he had, as O'Brien is a zealot to his own scheme. (I wrote when he was hired that he suffered from true believerism). In other words, I don't think his defensive scheme would change in this regard even if he had a great pressure point guard like Rajon Rondo or someone else playing the position.

    So, the questions are as follows:

    1. Are we using our personnel in the correct way defensively at the point of attack?

    2. Are we using them the way we are using them because it is an honest (but flawed in my judgment) decision based on what our staff sees as a weakness, or is it because they are married to a philosophy that doesnt fit our personnel?

    3. What does Larry Bird truly believe as he watches us play every day in practice and every game?

    4. Would picking up the pressure further up the floor, and with more intensity, help our Pacers as much as this writer believes it would?

    Clearly, I have a pretty big problem with Coach O'Brien on this one issue....the lack of his emphasis on point of attack pressure. In the next post, which will be about wing defense, the debate is quite a bit murkier and harder to decide upon. I believe that will be a pretty interesting discussion.

    But for now, the topic de jour of the day is pressure at the point of attack....and why we don't have any. Feel free to discuss, agree with me, or tell me why I'm wrong.



    As always, the above is just my opinion.

    Tbird

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    As always, an enjoyable read.

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    Very good post, tbird. For purposes of debate, I wish I disagreed with you on something, but I don't.



    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245
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    1. Are we using our personnel in the correct way defensively at the point of attack?
    No, not at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245
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    2. Are we using them the way we are using them because it is an honest (but flawed in my judgment) decision based on what our staff sees as a weakness, or is it because they are married to a philosophy that doesnt fit our personnel?
    I'm not sure. If Boston/Philly didn't pressure during Obie's tenure, then I'd be more likely to say it was philosophy, but I don't remember.

    I highly doubt our staff sees this as a weakness, considering we have the fastest player in the league and Jack applied good pressure while in Portland. Then again, from this staff, it wouldn't surprise me.

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245
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    3. What does Larry Bird truly believe as he watches us play every day in practice and every game?
    Given his mixed comments on the players (i.e. Dunleavy), I'm unsure of where Bird stands defensively. Being the coach of a team with far less defensive talent, I'm sure he thinks this team should be doing better.

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245
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    4. Would picking up the pressure further up the floor, and with more intensity, help our Pacers as much as this writer believes it would?
    I'm convinced it could. We have the fastest player in the league and I think we need to take advantage of that as much as possible. And when Daniels returns (and with Dun back), Jack can spend more time @ PG, meaning the sub patterns should allow for more opportunities to use extra energy.

    At this point, I think our coaching staff should spend more time on the basics. It doesn't get more basic than ball pressure.

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    Contained in this article from the United States Chess Federation is the Jim O'Brien philosophy of always trying to control the middle, both in chess, and on both ends of the basketball floor:

    The United States Chess Federation

    By David Friedman
    September 8, 2007

    http://main.uschess.org/content/view/7853/141/

    OíBrien describes some strategic similarities between chess and basketball: ďIn both basketball and chess the middle must be controlled. In our sport, itís the three second paintódefensively we want to control that by keeping the ball out of the middle and offensively we want to control it by making sure that we get the ball into the middle. I have never won a chess gameóor have not won very many times--when I didnít control the middle of the board.Ē
    There is a lot of additonal content in this article, but this may be one of the most relevant sections of it.

    Could our defensive difficulties be somewhat traced to this philosophy and its possible requirement offensively of deeper penetration of multiple perimeter players on a consistent basis, thereby leading them to be delayed getting back defensively, especially on misses and turnovers?

    Also, to successfully defend this way, would it be a requirement for successful implementation of this philosophy to have the presence of a lane filling shot blocker on the court the majority of the time to provide an "insurance policy" in case the perimeter defenders get beat for whatever reason?

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad8888 View Post
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    Contained in this article from the United States Chess Federation is the Jim O'Brien philosophy of always trying to control the middle, both in chess, and on both ends of the basketball floor:

    The United States Chess Federation

    By David Friedman
    September 8, 2007

    http://main.uschess.org/content/view/7853/141/



    There is a lot of additonal content in this article, but this may be one of the most relevant sections of it.

    Could our defensive difficulties be somewhat traced to this philosophy and its possible requirement offensively of deeper penetration of multiple perimeter players on a consistent basis, thereby leading them to be delayed getting back defensively, especially on misses and turnovers?

    Also, to successfully defend this way, would it be a requirement for successful implementation of this philosophy to have the presence of a lane filling shot blocker on the court the majority of the time to provide an "insurance policy" in case the perimeter defenders get beat for whatever reason?
    Ding, ding, ding! An athletic shot blocker is our #1 need on defense.

    BTW, in addition to an insurance policy, an athletic shot blocker simply covers more of the floor resulting in other players not expending as much energy on defense and reducing the likelihood of fouls. It reduces the floor space in which the offense can operate. It's essential for a good defense and the Pacers lack that.

    I'm not sure how many teams have that facet, but I can name just a few shot-blockers in the EC: Boston/Garnett & Perkins, Philly/Dalembert, Cleveland/Wallace, Detroit/Sheed, Orlando/Howard, Atlanta/Horford, NJ/Lopez, etc. Notice that all the teams with the best records are represented here. Also, I don't think you need the best shot-blocker in the NBA for the intimidation factor to be present.

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    I think we could get Sean Williams from New Jersey, and shot blocking is his specialty. Not sure if LB looks at him as too big a risk to take a chance on.

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    Quote Originally Posted by QuickRelease View Post
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    I think we could get Sean Williams from New Jersey, and shot blocking is his specialty. Not sure if LB looks at him as too big a risk to take a chance on.
    I thought I read somewhere that Sean isn't like StroSwift.....athletic Forward that can block shots...but not a very smart Basketball Player ( a requirement in JO'Bs offense/defense ).
    Ash from Army of Darkness: Good...Bad...I'm the guy with the gun.

    This is David West, he is the Honey Badger, West just doesn't give a *****....he's pretty bad *ss cuz he has no regard for any other Player or Team whatsoever.

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueNGold View Post
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    Ding, ding, ding! An athletic shot blocker is our #1 need on defense.

    BTW, in addition to an insurance policy, an athletic shot blocker simply covers more of the floor resulting in other players not expending as much energy on defense and reducing the likelihood of fouls. It reduces the floor space in which the offense can operate. It's essential for a good defense and the Pacers lack that.

    I'm not sure how many teams have that facet, but I can name just a few shot-blockers in the EC: Boston/Garnett & Perkins, Philly/Dalembert, Cleveland/Wallace, Detroit/Sheed, Orlando/Howard, Atlanta/Horford, NJ/Lopez, etc. Notice that all the teams with the best records are represented here. Also, I don't think you need the best shot-blocker in the NBA for the intimidation factor to be present.
    I totally agree with this. I read an Article in ESPN Magazine that talked about the merits and importance of Shotblocking as it relates to overall defense for the team. Next to limiting the FG% of the opposing Team, blocking shots is the next most important defensive stat.

    The fact that Granger is our leading Shotblocker tells you something about our lack of a Shotblocking presense inside the paint.

    Quote Originally Posted by QuickRelease View Post
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    I think we could get Sean Williams from New Jersey, and shot blocking is his specialty. Not sure if LB looks at him as too big a risk to take a chance on.
    I thought I read somewhere that Sean is much like StroSwift.....he's an athletic Forward that can rebound and block shots...but he's not a very smart Basketball Player ( a requirement in JO'Bs offense/defense ). That's one of the huge problems that I have with JO'Bs defense.....the sheer requirement that everyone must work in concert and completely understand how it works ( as in have a high Basketball IQ ) in order to even get minutes in the rotation limits who we can acquire.
    Ash from Army of Darkness: Good...Bad...I'm the guy with the gun.

    This is David West, he is the Honey Badger, West just doesn't give a *****....he's pretty bad *ss cuz he has no regard for any other Player or Team whatsoever.

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    Quote Originally Posted by CableKC View Post
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    I totally agree with this. I read an Article in ESPN Magazine that talked about the merits and importance of Shotblocking as it relates to overall defense for the team. Next to limiting the FG% of the opposing Team, blocking shots is the next most important defensive stat.

    The fact that Granger is our leading Shotblocker tells you something about our lack of a Shotblocking presense inside the paint.
    Yes, Granger certainly should not be our leading shot-blocker. That's a really bad sign.

    There is an order to this. To limit FG% consistently, you need a good defense. To have a good defense, you almost always need a shot-blocking presence in the middle. The only signed player remotely capable of helping the Pacers in this department is a rookie named Josh McRoberts, who admittedly, is green and it's not clear whether he will ripen.

    Allowing open jumpers at the end of ball games is merely a symptom of the problem. While we may improve our defense as it stands, IMO it's impossible to build a contender without that presence.

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad8888 View Post
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    Could our defensive difficulties be somewhat traced to this philosophy and its possible requirement offensively of deeper penetration of multiple perimeter players on a consistent basis, thereby leading them to be delayed getting back defensively, especially on misses and turnovers?

    Also, to successfully defend this way, would it be a requirement for successful implementation of this philosophy to have the presence of a lane filling shot blocker on the court the majority of the time to provide an "insurance policy" in case the perimeter defenders get beat for whatever reason?
    Wow. This could explain a lot. Because we have lost JO, and because we don't have a good shotblocker, we probably crowd the lane and rotate to help in the paint so much, which is why we allow opposing teams things such as open 3's.

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    I still think shotblocking per se' is over-rated. What is needed is a strong interior defender that can hold his ground and make people pay for violating his space. If he can block shots, all the better...
    ...but IMHO shot blocking is secondary and many times gives a poor defender an undeserved reputation as a "good defender". JO could block shots, he could even take charges, but he wasn't a good defender in a one on one situation.
    Nuntius was right. I was wrong. Frank Vogel has retained his job.

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    I have a couple of points:

    1. JO would repeatedly get beat in a physical match-up with a stronger post player because JO doesn't have strong legs. That is probably a lot of the reason he has had such issues with his knees/legs over the years. He is top heavy even for a skinnier guy. JO could usually make up for it with his ability to block a shot however.

    2. JOB runs a help and recover type of defense. Boston and San Antonio run this type of system and are the two best defensive teams in the league. The difference is that they have solid big men that won't consistently get beat when playing man in the post. The issue with JOB I think is that he realizes there is such a weakness with our front court to hold their own, it disallows pressuring the point guard up the floor, because we absolutely need the extra man to be in the recovery process. It is kind of the chicken vs the egg thing. If we pressure the ball up the court, the other team would look to get the ball to the post as fast as possible to take advantage of our bigs. At the same time, if we don't pressure the ball this gives the other team more time to work the ball around while we "scramble" in the help and recovery. I think that JOB feels that his ONLY option defensively, is to have the extra man, especially the quickest player, to help in the recovery process.

    If I look at the other four defensively, lets say we have Foster, Murphy, Dunleavy, and Granger out there and ball pressure with Ford. They pass to the wing from the point where Ford picks him up. The wing then feeds the post. If Foster is guarding the man, Murphy comes across the lane, Dunleavy cheats down to the post from the wing, well that isolates Granger to the strong side, leaving Ford to be the one that must get back to recover to the weak side wing. That creates too much of a gap too early in your rotation. The problem with all of this is that Dunleavy and Murphy are WAY too slow to both be on the floor together defensively, while Foster and Murphy are WAY too small to defend the paint together. There needs to be a reliance on a bit of man to man defense to slow the initial recovery process, very similar to what ball pressure would do. The problem is that our three biggest players will get burnt more often than they already do and it will create a larger gap in the recovery process if we pressure the ball with our PG.

    3. I really, really like Troy Murphy.... as a person. I am of the coaching philosophy to prioritize a defensive PF. I HATE PF/C's that hang out around the three point line, unless its to take advantage of the team over-playing the drive on the pick and roll and you can burn them with the pick-n-pop to mix it up. He tried to guard CP3, but I don't know what JOB was thinking even having him in the game. You know they will pick CP3's man off and why would you allow that play to even start knowing that Troy Murphy will end up on Paul? This is not the sort of thing that is hindsight is 20-20. This is, I SEE SOMETHING REALLY WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE AND NEED TO CALL A TIMEOUT. I wouldn't have Murphy in the game if I need a defensive stop, PERIOD. I don't understand why we wouldn't have had a smaller, faster lineup in the game, because the person setting the pick, Melvin Ely, was not an offensive threat. I really question the judgment of the player selection knowing that they will set the play up for either Paul or Peja, and NO ONE else. It would be different if Dunleavy got burnt on the play being picked off because he was guarding Peja.

    Sorry so long. I LOVE THIS THREAD IDEA TBIRD!!!!

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
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    1. Are we using our personnel in the correct way defensively at the point of attack?
    I don't think so. I don't really have an opinion one way or another on how much pressure we should put on or what the proper pick up point should be. My main concern with our point of attack defense is that I think it invites penetration by instructing our PG's to force their men to drive toward the sideline/baseline to protect the lane. With Ford and Jack we have PG's who should be physically able to stay in front of most PG's. I'd much rather see them instructed not to get beat rather than to force their man in one specific direction.

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
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    2. Are we using them the way we are using them because it is an honest (but flawed in my judgment) decision based on what our staff sees as a weakness, or is it because they are married to a philosophy that doesnt fit our personnel?
    It's philosophy, not adjustment to personnel.

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
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    3. What does Larry Bird truly believe as he watches us play every day in practice and every game?
    Personally I think that Bird is very happy with the effort he sees, but that he's probably not terribly excited about some rotational and strategic issues. I'd bet that he's hoping for a healthy roster for the second half of the season so that he can truly evaluate O'Brien's coaching with the full roster he's put together. I'd also bet that he doesn't view O'Brien as a long-term fixture in Indy. O'Brien's got to show some improvement over the 2nd half of the season if he wants to be here next season, and probably be over .500 with a pretty strong playoff showing in '09-'10 if he wants to continue after that.

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbird1245 View Post
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    4. Would picking up the pressure further up the floor, and with more intensity, help our Pacers as much as this writer believes it would?
    I'm not sure it would make a dramatic difference. It certainly could, but I'm not sold on it as a major part of the solution to our defensive woes.
    "A man with no belly has no appetite for life."

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    Melli,

    Your response to question 2. "It's philosophy, not adjustment to personnel". Do you not think that the lack of "personnel" contribute to the inability of the coach's "system".

    I think it is hard to make a concrete statement about it being the fault of JOB that our team defense is not good. It has to be much more difficult for JOB to make adjustments due to the lack of defensive prowess on our team. It basically forces him to make choices in personnel versus making minor adjustments within the flow of the game. He seemingly forgoes complete aspects of his coaching preferences to hopefully get the most out of the talent he has.... I.E. playing Murphy 36+ minutes per game (I think Murphy would be extremely effective as a 3rd or fourth big off the bench getting about 20-25 mpg). He would be PERFECT next to Tim Duncan or Dwight Howard (or any beefy big man with a back to the basket game).


    "personnel" - I believe this to be a judgment that we don't have especially good overall defensive talent.

    "system" - I believe this to be a general attempt by JOB to implement his help and recover style.

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    Quote Originally Posted by pacergod2 View Post
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    Melli,

    Your response to question 2. "It's philosophy, not adjustment to personnel". Do you not think that the lack of "personnel" contribute to the inability of the coach's "system".
    I was specifically referring to our PG's when I made that statement. I wholeheartedly agree that we do not have a ton of defensive talent, but when I look at Jarret Jack and T.J. Ford, I see two guys who should be able to pressure the ball effectively. Therefore, I see our lack of ball pressure as a philosophical stance rather than an adjustment to personnel.
    "A man with no belly has no appetite for life."

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    Quote Originally Posted by mellifluous View Post
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    I was specifically referring to our PG's when I made that statement. I wholeheartedly agree that we do not have a ton of defensive talent, but when I look at Jarret Jack and T.J. Ford, I see two guys who should be able to pressure the ball effectively. Therefore, I see our lack of ball pressure as a philosophical stance rather than an adjustment to personnel.
    Or, perhaps an adjustment to personnel other than the PG. There seems to be a reticence to spread this defense out too much. I would wonder if the coaches are concerned that moving the the PG's too far out above the three point line would expose the "soft underbelly" of the defense, i.e. the big men.

    Jack and Ford may have the physical capability to pressure the ball, but do they actually have the defensive skill and technique to keep their player in front of them? Basically, the PG needs to make the guy bringing the ball up the court turn his back to the basket, at least momentarily. If he can't do that, then he neither slows down the attack nor impairs the opposing PG's vision. If they fail in this regard, then you've got the opposing team attacking an exposed weakness.

    In some ways, it seems we're like a boxer trying to protect broken ribs. We bring everything in close, but that allows the opponent to move freely outside of our defensive perimeter and open ourselves up to head shots.

    In other words, we're trying to hide Murph/Rasho/Hibbert, and to some degree, Foster. All of these guys are going to struggle to cover a lot of ground, defensively, and are not effective at protecting the rim. This would mitigate against pressuring the ball on the perimeter for fear of easy baskets at the rim. It gets further exascerbated because the weakside perimeter D also sags to help protect the middle, thus exposing the corner three that's killing us.

    None of our players have very good close out or rotation techniques, and this gets exacerbated by the system design.

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    Quote Originally Posted by count55 View Post
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    ...In other words, we're trying to hide Murph/Rasho/Hibbert, and to some degree, Foster. All of these guys are going to struggle to cover a lot of ground, defensively, and are not effective at protecting the rim. This would mitigate against pressuring the ball on the perimeter for fear of easy baskets at the rim. It gets further exascerbated because the weakside perimeter D also sags to help protect the middle, thus exposing the corner three that's killing us.

    None of our players have very good close out or rotation techniques, and this gets exacerbated by the system design.
    I believe this sums us up very well. We play offense at a torrid pace, yet we expect our defenders to maintain an endless energy to rotate and recover.

    I think this is asking a lot, especially if we limit our rotation to only 8 or 9 players.

    If we look at JOB's system and how it should work, it probably would function at its best it had a PG capable of initiating defense at half-court as stated by Thunderbird. IMO, you defend at the point and your opposition has only 14-15 seconds to get a decent shot after their PG initiates the offense.

    My goal would be to force the PG to make a lateral pass to the weaker wing player and force that player to have to initiate their offense. But to do that, you need a very good defensive PG and you need a wing player capable of denying the ball to the opponent's best wing player.

    I'm also disappointed in Jack and Ford. I really thought Jack was a better defender than he has shown. And, although Ford often has a size disadvantage, I really thought that his quickness would enable him to stay in front of his man.

    I still think these two are capable of playing better defense. Perhaps we need a modification in our overall scheme to enable them to play their men more straight-up rather than shading them to one side or the other.

    Since we don't seem to be contending enough shots, the least we can do is to do something to eat a little more clock before our opponent gets into their offense.

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    Gotta love it! Other forums around the country prattle on about dunks, ankle-breaking crossovers, etc. but in Indiana you're having intelligent discussions on defense! One important point to consider is tailoring defense according to your opponent. Generally, I think there is great value in applying pressure at the point, but you have to be judicious against clever PGs like Steve Nash, CP3, or Billups - guys who are very crafty at creating/drawing fouls.

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    Quote Originally Posted by count55 View Post
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    the "soft underbelly" of the defense, i.e. the big men.
    I agree with that statement but let's not pretend that the bigs aren't constantly covering the perimeter player's men once they blow by them. The bigs are picking up lots of fouls in the paint because they have to stop an easy score for a PG, SG or SF.

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    I've read this entire thread and really don't know how to respond. I do know a couple of things. This defensive system can and does work in the NBA - I have seen it work. perhaps the greatest strength of this defense is that bad individual defenders can thrive in this system - you don't need 5 great or even good defenders - in fact it should work with 5 poor defenders - that is why this system is run to cover up for poor defenders.

    What has me baffled and at a loss to explain - is why isn't it working - I cannot answer that - but we have plenty of good enough defenders to make it work (although KG would help at least 50%) This system is not unusual or strange, or some far out scheme that is impossible to play. Celtics current system is very similar. And every team in the NBA use many of the same principles.

    Two things I know about this system or any defensive system and quite frankly I don't care about the system -10 but every defense needs the defenders to be aggressive, play with effort, energy and 2) second all 5 players have to be on the same page, tied together, play on a string, help eahc other, trust each other.

    Without those two things, I don't give a hoot what system is employed - it ain't going to work. We can start 25 threads dissecting the system second by second, movement by movement - but really that is all a waste of time because unless or until the players buy in play hard and together - the system isn't going to work. Blame the coaches for not getting the players to buy in and blame the players for not buying in
    Last edited by Unclebuck; 01-21-2009 at 02:05 PM.

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck View Post
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    Blame the coaches for not getting the players to buy in and blame the players for not buying in
    I prefer to blame the coaches for not demanding better. I also blame the coaches for putting offense so far ahead of defense in their concerns. Reverse those two things and you see a change for the better.

    -Bball
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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    While a defensive system can cover for weaker defenders, you can be sure that a defensive system WITH good defenders is going to be a better defense.

    There will always be gaps in a defense regardless of what system you employ. The difference between a good and great defense is that the great defense has much smaller gaps. Those gaps are going to be smaller when you have longer and quicker players.

    This should not be hard to understand.

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    Default Re: Comprehensive examination of man to man defense and the Jim O'Brien defensive system, Part I

    OK the difference between the Pacers defensive system and other very good defensive teams. Bulk and shot blocking from the post. OK I am going to use Boston as an example. Rajon Rondo pressures the ball up the court. If he gets beat, a PG is looking at KG and Perkins, two very good defenders who are both very strong and can block shots. Perkins leaves a lot to be desired on the offensive end, but Boston is prioritizing the defense. Ray Allen, is a good defender. He used to be a very good defender but has admittedly lost a step. Paul Pierce is a big and strong SF. The size and physicality of the Boston front court is what makes their defense so good. Foster would be great for that team. But having Foster as your biggest and toughest defender doesn't really work because nobody on the team can block a shot either.

    San Antonio is very similar. They have Parker pressure the ball. He is very fast but undersized defensively (think TJ). Manu is not great defensively so he comes off the bench as the sixth man. He is fast and makes a lot of steals because he is able to take more chances defensively and not get burned. Tim Duncan and whatever carousel center they bring in are a formidable tandem defensively. They always have solid defenders capable of blocking shots playing center. Kurt Thomas is perfect for them. HE is very good defensively and is a big body so TD doesn't take as much of a beating. Bruce Bowen is a tough and strong SF that defends the best player on the floor. They prioritize defense over offense.

    The Lakers are similar. Ariza, Fisher, Kobe, are all good perimeter defenders. But they have bulk up front. Bynum and Odom are both strong. Pau is soft but a big body that can block a shot. They get exposed when Pau has to play center. Turiaf when he was still there was tough defensively and could block shots as well. The Lakers aren't as good defensively as the other two but they have better perimeter defenders than most teams in the league. They prioritize defense. And they have Kobe on offense.

    We need to make a few more moves to add key players. Not necessarily big names, but good defenders. I would love for us to go after someone like Josh Boone. Solid defensively for a younger player. We NEED to prioritize defense this off-season. We NEED to get Rush and Hibbert who have the ability to be very good defenders more minutes late in the season.

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