Basketball is a team sport but there are times when a single individual can dominate the game. A single dominant post player can wreak havoc on the opposing team. Be it someone with superior skills or someone bigger and stronger, there are certain things individuals and teams can do to defend against a lone dominant post player.
Denying the Ball
A post player can be neutralized by taking steps to ensure that they do not get the ball. A defender can front the ball, or even lock the opposing player’s dominant hand. This can prevent the entry pass entirely, or, at the very least, make the opposing big man uncomfortable and increase the chances that they will fumble the ball. Denying the ball in the paint should be a team effort. The point guard or whoever else would be making the entry pass should be be harassed and bothered by the defender. The goal is to make the opposing guard panic and make his entry pass hurried and inaccurate. Coaching basketball players to communicate goes a long way in ensuring that the entire team is on the same page on defense.
Denying the Position
Basic scouting of opposing teams can provide hints on how their dominant big men operate. Strong and large post players typically want to use their physical advantage to bully defenders. Once their feet are set at their preferred spot on the floor, these big men can be hard to defend against. Good post defenders usually strive to prevent opposing big men from ever reaching their preferred spots. A good way to do this is by bodying them early on, even before they reach the paint. More intelligent defenders can even anticipate when and where to position themselves in order to take a charge.
Wearing Them Down
A single dominant post player can be an asset for any team. Yet if that player is the focal point of their offense, then wearing the post player down would be a good way to win. Physical play is expected at the post. Throwing different players throughout then game at an opposing big man is a good way to wear them down while conserving the energy of your own players. Taking advantage of the time a dominant big man sits at the bench to drive at the paint will also make the opposing coach play their ace big man more, thus fatiguing the player earlier in the game.
Leverage in any movement, from lateral sidesteps, spin moves, backing down an opponent to single step entries to the paint all start at the players lower body. By defending against their footwork, never letting them get their feet set and bothering their grasp of the ball enough to take away their focus, savvy defenders can deny better big men the opportunity to get their offense rolling.
Double-teaming is a good way to counter a player who can significantly outplay a single opponent. Although this leaves a man open, a good double-team can help shut down a post player, or at the very least, make them relinquish the ball to the open man. A 2-3 zone works best in collapsing onto a lone post presence. In a team consisting of a single dominant post player and a bevy of non-shooters, a 2-3 zone can clamp down their offense.
A big man at the youth or even high school level would only usually have 2 to 3 go-to moves in the paint. In college, amateur and even professional competition, these can balloon from 5 to 6 go-to moves or more. Intelligent defenders would learn to counter most of these moves to make the player uncomfortable in the paint. Using a combination of every tactic listed above, interspersed with savvy use of special moves like pulling the chair, a bit of psychological warfare and flat out effort, an intelligent roster of players can easily shut down a single dominant post presence.
If these tactics don’t work, then a foul would have to be give in order to prevent a field goal. It is always important to remember that basketball is a team sport, and that team effort is required to shut down any threats on the opposing team. As a defender, it is important to keep one’s composure when being scored on. In a basketball game, being scored on by a post player is bound to happen. The defender must will himself to not let his discipline and confidence waver and to do whatever it takes to win the game.