Transition Drills

The Cavaliers are the top seed in the NCAA Tournament due to a stifling defense based on everyone closing out on shooters and the ability to create high-% shots.

Jan 31, 2018; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers guard Kyle Guy (5) shoots the ball as Louisville Cardinals forward Dwayne Sutton (24) defends in the second half at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavaliers won 74-64. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Cavs defend well in the half-court and their Pack Line Defense squeezes the life out of opposing offenses. But, they also slow teams down in transition and contain a lot of those open 3-pointers players want to get as defenders scramble back after a missed (or sometimes made) hoop.

Virginia have proven incredibly strong at defending the 3-pointer (30.3% allowed). Plus, the team holds a very high overall shooting percentage defense. And, so much of that is due to having five players on the court at all times who are willing to hustle, sprint and fight through anything to close out on shooters.

You need to build these kinds of players in your system. Having just one player on the floor not dedicated to closing out and challenging every shot is doing a disservice to your program.

It’s why I’m sharing the drill on page 4 with you. It starts with a full-court 2-on-0 to get players used to scoring on the move, then shifting immediately into a defensive mindset after the layup.

The two players scramble back down the floor to close out on the two potential shooters. They need to get in position to close off space to shoot and to get a hand in the face of player with the ball.

And while the Virginia offense doesn’t attract a lot of media attention except for when people want to write about what they perceive to be the Cavs’ deficiencies, actually, the opposite is true.

The Cavs create and take high-percentage shots, just like the ones shown in the drill on page 5 where players are getting to the proper positions on the fast break.

As you consider strategies for the offseason, think about your transition defense and offense, and how these two drills can fit into your practices.

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