Defeating Half Court and Full Court Traps


NCAA Basketball 2016 -  Georgetown beats USC Upstate, 105-61

The Half-Court Zone Trap Press

A Half-Court Zone Trap Press is another version of pressure defense that can disrupt and cause your team a lot of trouble.   Opponents will attempt to trap you as you cross the mid court line and no sooner.  The best way to beat this press is the same as any other; that is, beat it up court before the opponents can set up.  Use the (4) to (2) long inlet pass option or the (4) to (1) to (2) quick passes up the sideline.  But if neither quick attack option is available, we use the same offensive attack outlined in my earlier post for the Three Quarter Court Press, but with One Big Exception.  The point guard will again dribble up hard, but he will NOT cross the mid court line UNLESS he can easily get 15 feet past that line.  (Diagram #1)  The defense wants you to dribble it across so they can trap you inside the mid court line, thus, using it as a third defender and eliminating the back pass option.  The best attack is to dribble near to the mid court line, but not across, draw the defense, and use the four looks: sideline, middle, cross court, and reverse.  (Diagram #2) When reversed, the (4) will usually be able to hit the opposite wing on his side of the court as the zone defense tries to recover to that side.  The middle man (5) must be used as much as possible though, to force the defense to cover the middle.  This opens the reverse pass option and leads to a wing pass to (5) cutting for a potential inside score.  The wings (2) and (3) should space out behind defenders on their respective sides of the court, looking for a pass over the top of those defenders from (1) or (4).

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After the first reverse, if (4) cannot get the ball to a teammate in the forecourt, he will have to get it back to (1) with a second reverse.  Now, just like in the full court press offense, a second reverse means time in the backcourt is running out, so (1) needs to get the ball across quickly with a pass or dribble.  If he or any other player dribbles across, they must not be satisfied just crossing the centerline, but they must get about 15’ beyond it so that a reverse pass is still possible if trapped.

Once the ball is across half court, it’s no time to relax.  The pressure and traps may stay on or the opponent might drop back into a regular zone or man to man defense.  Whichever of the three options they choose, they are vulnerable until they get organized, so your offense needs to take advantage of this situation.  One way is to look for the (5) in the middle or look for him at the low block when the ball is at the wing.  Keeping the court spread in the 2-1-2 basic attack allows for easier swing passes and reverses which makes the defense scatter and scramble to cover your team.  This can lead to some great opportunities for open looks at 3’s, inside/outside/inside passing, and drives in seams created by the scrambles.

The 1-2-1-1 Full Court Press

The Full Court 1-2-1-1 Zone Press is a little different challenge for teams learning to handle pressure defenses.  Personally, I have found this press to be the easiest to beat with our fast break, press offense.  Here are some simple adjustments that we do to get into our speed game verses this press:

  1.   The (4) must be sure to take the ball out deeper, behind the out of bounds line, so the opponent up on him will not deflect his pass.
  2.    The (4) also must make sure he is not stuck behind the backboard; thus, eliminating the long pass option.
  3.   As always, (4) should look deep first to the (2) as he takes the ball out.
  4.   (5) can be a screener for (1) if the ball is delayed coming in.
  5.   (1) and (5) must avoid the corners by working to get the ball in the key area.
  6.   If (1) or anyone else, gets pushed to a corner and gets a pass, he should immediately dribble out of the corner before a trap comes.  And it is coming.
  7.   If the front of the press denies passes to (1) and (5), (2) and (3) should sprint up the sidelines from mid court for an inlet pass from (4).
  8.   Since three defenders are by-passed when (2) or (3) gets a sideline pass, they will be able to dribble attack down the sideline without too much trouble.
  9.   If (1) gets the inlet, he can expect to be doubled immediately.  (5) should move to his spot in the middle of the court and (4) should step inbounds on the opposite side of (1) for a possible reverse pass.  Remember, (4) stays slightly behind (1).
  10.   From here the basic 2-1-2 set for any zone press is used to help (1).  If (5) gets an inlet pass, (1) takes (5)’s place by moving to the middle.  (5) uses his size to see over the impending trap as he looks first for sideline wing, then (1) in the middle, and lastly a reverse to (4).     

If the trap is avoided in the corners, this press is fairly easy to beat.  Any pass up court bypasses at least three defenders and gives your team the advantage on a quick, fast break attack.  But remember, a quick inlet to (1) up the sideline and a pitch ahead is always the best way to beat a press and get a layup.

Key Teaching Points:

  • Stay out of corners.  If pushed to receive in a corner, dribble out immediately.
  • Recognize Half Court Traps and avoid dribbling across mid-court and stopping.
  • As long as an opponent is trapping, keep it spread and move the ball.
  • Don’t settle for rushed or poor shot attempts.  Use the extra pass and score.
  • Point Guard take inlet pass on the left side sometimes to change up.

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