The following is from Matt McCarty, Head Boys Basketball Coach at Vernon Hills High School:

“Demanding Excellence From Everyone No Selfish Exceptions!”



  1. STRADDLE HELP LINE - Be Boxer Ready (bouncy) and use your wingspan

  2. SPRINT TO CLOSE with high hands (thumbs together)  / Tracing the ball (think deflection)

  3. – DENY – HELP – SKIP CALLS - BOX = Everyone not only talks but communicates. Finish w/ shot call & box out!

  4. DEAD BALL PRESSURE - Calling out “Deads”. Offensive players may take one or two dribbles and then pick it up to simulate a dead ball.

  5. BASIC  DEFENSIVE CONCEPTS TO BE PRACTICED DURING SHELL (3v.3 & 4v.4): Defending Face Cuts / Weakside Cuts / Dribble Penetration (no splits) / Baseline Penetration (charge) - Kickout Pass - Close - Boxout - Secure Rebound / Defending Flex Cuts / Defending Ball Screens / Defending Next Opponent Offense / Defending Down Screens & Staggers  / Defending Cross Screens

  6. DISADVANTAGE DRILL: Four Defensive Players vs. Five Offensive Players (2 dribbles allowed)

  7. TERMINOLOGY TO USE DURING SHELL: Jump & Sprint to the ball, don’t shuffle - Have your back to the baseline - Take the fake with the back foot, don’t lunge forward - Guard a wide area - Use your pointer fingers, find man & ball - Contest jump shooters, but never foul a jump shooter - Tag screens on shooters & run them off the screen - Topside on ball screens for good shooters - Stay home on back screens - “I GOT YOUR BACK” on screens.

    1. Make them face our set defense - SPRINT BACK! Know our conversion rules.
    2. Contest every shot. Make them shoot the ball over a close out hand.
    3. Finish the play with a defensive rebound. They get one chance.
    4. Constant repositioning, talking, and communicating knowing sometimes we will be in scramble mode.
    5. Understand the defensive scouting report on our next opponent.

    1. Think containment. Back foot must be on balance.
    2. Low in your stance. Less chance to be screened.
    3. Play defense with your feet. Nothing gets to the middle. Make the O play lateral.
    4. Off the ball line up in gaps.
    5. Weakside mentality means no ball in the lane.
    6. See the ball and your man.
    7. Sprint to help.
    8. Lead leg should be towards the ball.
    9. Take away driving angles. Know your opponents strong hand.
    10. Find the line of the ball and do not be out of position or above it.

  10. GET THEM TO BUY INTO THE PHILOSOPHY OF…. Five guys guarding the ball at all times.  If you coach defense with excitement, then they will play that way.


Coach Spotlight

Matt McCarty 010

Matt McCarty is currently the Head Boys Basketball Coach at Vernon Hills High School in Vernon Hills, IL. He is the school's all-time winningest boys basketball coach and he has held that position since 2003. Before taking over as head coach, Coach McCarty was an assistant coach at Monticello High School, Tolono Unity High School, Palatine High School, and Vernon Hills High School.

Twitter: @VHHSBasketball

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