The No Middle Defense Makes Defensive Rotations Easier & Eliminates Gaps

By Jeff Huber

In 2019, Texas Tech and Virginia squared off in the NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship game.

Virginia is known for their packline man to man. In the packline, they force the ball to the middle of the floor.

Texas Tech was known for its no middle defense. Their goal was to keep the ball on one side to the sideline.

The game showed that both strategies can result in elite defenses.

But today, we are going to take a deep dive into why the No Middle Defense makes rotations easier and eliminates gaps for your opponents.

Here's what we are going to cover:

  • Why Coach LoGalbo tried almost every defense and settled on no middle defense - and created one of the best defenses in the Chicago area
  • What is the Outer 1/3 Defense?
  • The benefits and results of the Outer 1/3 Defense
  • How the Outer 1/3 Defense keeps you out of rotation
  • The aggressive mindset of the Outer 1/3 Defense that has you on "offense" even when you're on defense

That said, keeping the ball out of the middle can make life easier for your defense.

That's one of the key ideas behind The Outer 1/3 Defense with Nick LoGalbo.

WATCH here to learn some of the benefits of the Outer 1/3!


What Is The Outer 1/3 Defense?

Simply put, the Outer 1/3 Defense does not allow the offense to operate in the middle of the floor.



The defense begins by forcing the ball to a side. Once the ball is on a side, the goal is to keep it on that side.

In the video, Coach LoGalbo covers a number of ways they accomplish this. He goes over the proper closeout and stance techniques as well as off-ball positioning.

For now, let's focus on the philosophy behind the defense.


Benefits Of The Outer 1/3 (No Middle) Defense

  • Player buy into and trust the system
  • Players know where their help and rotations come from
  • You can easily extend it to the full court
  • It dictates where the offense starts
  • It blows up scouting reports
  • It dictates what players can do
  • It takes away your opponent's best player

The Results Of The Outer 1/3 (No Middle) Defense

Since Coach LoGalbo implemented the Outer 1/3 defense, his teams have seen these results:

  • Top of their league in points allowed
  • Averaged 19+ wins per year against elite competition
  • Ranked in the Chicagoland Top 25 for the first time in 20 years
  • Hold opposing teams and their best players well below their scoring averages

The benefits and results speak for themselves.

Today, let's deep dive into one of the biggest benefits - how keeping the ball on one side prevents rotation and shrinks space for the offense!


How The No Middle Defense Overcomes the #1 Defensive Challenge

Coach LoGalbo goes over a number of benefits of the Outer 1/3 Defense. He talks about how players know where they have to help from and know where rotations come from.

Those are important benefits. There's another benefit that I think is as or even more important than those.

What gets your defense in trouble? If your team is like mine, it's getting put in rotation. When we are matched up 5v5, we are pretty solid.

However, when we have to start rotating, holes emerge.

It's critical that you teach your team how to scramble and rotate effectively. No matter what defense you run, you will be in rotation some of the time.

That said, what's even better than knowing how to rotate is limiting how often you have to rotate.

That's where The Outer 1/3 Defense really stands out!


How to Create Fewer Defensive Rotations and Conserve Energy

When the ball can move freely side to side, your defenders are always changing roles.

Every time the ball changes sides, the ball side becomes the help side. This means your defenders must go from guarding the ball (or one pass away) to being responsible for weak side help.

While it's important to work on these rotations, they are challenging. It's one reason coaches stress reversing the ball on offense.

In the Outer 1/3 Defense, you have the ability to keep the ball on one side. If the ball is on the right side, you keep it there.

This means that the defenders on the left side of the floor know they are AND LIKELY WILL REMAIN the help defenders.

There are two primary ways that defensive responsibilities change - ball movement and player movement. The Outer 1/3 removes the ball movement option.



In the frame above, if the defense keeps the ball on the right side, X5 and X4 will have minimal rotations. They know they are the help defenders.

That will only change based on player movement.

That makes defense so much easier!

It also makes offense so much harder! When an offense can't reverse the ball, gaps become smaller and space shrinks. That's exactly what you want on defense!


Why The No Middle Defense Puts You On Offense

Preventing reversals tied back to one more of Coach LoGalbo's benefits - dictating to the offense what they will do!

This is huge and is a major difference from the packline. In the packline, the ball moves relatively freely, but you protect the paint.

Your principles help force tough shots, but the offense gets to run their stuff.

With the Outer 1/3 Defense, you are on offense even when you're on defense! In other words, you are dictating the action.

You force players to beat you instead of plays.

Many teams completely break down once they are taken out of their offense. The Outer 1/3 Defense does this by keeping the ball on one side.


The Importance of Maximizing Defensive Control

There are multiple ways to be a good defensive team. Some packline teams are incredibly successful. If that's you, keep up the good work!

That said, as you look to next season, it might be worth considering The Outer 1/3 Defense. Not only does it put you in control, it also simplifies rotations for your defense.

An aggressive defense that limits rotation? That's hard to beat!


Related Resources

The Outer 1/3 Defense With Nick LoGalbo



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