X's and O's: Brighton's press defense

No. 6 Brighton beat No. 9 New Mission in convincing fashion last Wednesday thanks to their 1-2-1-1 diamond. Their press caused New Mission to rush their offense and force turnovers, which ultimately shifted the momentum of the game in Brighton’s favor.

Brighton head coach Hugh Coleman made the executive decision to stay in the press for the majority of the game not to run up the score, but because he knew it would keep his team playing hard. He took advantage of the fact that he has numerous quick players on his team and made sure he was using them to their strengths.

Here is a breakdown of how it worked:

What is it?

Brighton’s 1-2-1-1 press forces players to get trapped along the sidelines. It is a press that cuts off the middle and leaves the opposite side of the court’s sidelines open, which is often times a tough and long pass for the guards. When it is passed to the opposite sidelines, however, there are always three Brighton defenders always back on defense.

Forcing Turnovers

The main goal of any type of pressure is usually to force turnovers. Brighton’s press only directly forced three turnovers in this game.

Only one of those plays led to a Brighton basket. This may prompt one to ask, how was Brighton’s press so effective?

Rushed Offense

The way that their press hurt New Mission was not so much the idea of forcing turnovers. Instead, it made New Mission rush things on offense.

As you can see from each clip, New Mission had a false perception of being on a fast break whenever they broke the press. In three out of the four clips (the first, second, and last clip), New Mission took a shot that they thought was a good shot because they were on a “fast break”. If you look closely in these clips, the Brighton players back on defense outnumber the New Mission players on offense.

The confusion and bad decision making allowed for Brighton to get in transition on the other end. It also helped that Brighton’s offense was running smoothly. The press served as an extra punch after any Brighton scored basket.

How To Break It

New Mission did not do a bad job of breaking the press. The main man to credit would be DaShawn Fennell. He did a great job of attacking at the right time. He was smart with the ball and took advantage of any openings he found.

The key to breaking this press (or any press) is patience and poise. Players have to take openings when they see them. For example, on the last clip, Brighton’s players did not get back on defense. Leroy Hamilton saw this and instantly attacked the basket. The open three-pointer is intriguing, but not a good shot in transition, especially since Brighton usually has more people back on defense in the paint. Players must also attack it, draw double teams, and find the open players.

This takes toughness and intelligence, two of the attributes that separate the good basketball players from the not so good ones.