The Diamond and One "Junk" Defense
The Diamond and One is the perfect changeup to either a man-to-man or zone defense. It serves three purposes: to contain the opposing team’s best player, to take away the strengths of that player, and to disrupt the opponent’s rhythm on offense.
This defense is designed to shut down the other team’s best player by cutting off open looks. It is the perfect defense against a “one man” team since it forces other players to beat you. The opposing offense will probably line up in a 1/3/1 set to combat either defense. They will often attack it as if playing against a zone.
Starting out, the Diamond and One aligns into a 1-2-2 or a 2-3 defense depending on the offensive player being shadowed. If the player being shadowed is a perimeter player, line up in a 2-3. If the player being shadowed is a post player, line up in a 1-2-2. This wrinkle will disrupt the rhythm of the opposing offense.
Note: Breakthrough Basketball recommends youth teams playing man-to-man defense.
If the top perimeter player is 2, X2 shadows 2 as soon as the ball crosses half-court. X1 lines up in the top of the diamond.
If the top perimeter player is 1, X1 guards the ball. X2 lines up in the top of the diamond.
If the ball is passed to 3, X5 covers the short corner. X4 closes out on the ball. X3 covers the high post. X2 still shadows 2. X1 slides to the right elbow.
If the ball is passed to 2, X5 stays in the middle. X4 moves to the middle to guard the high post. X3 plays help defense on 2. X2 closes out on 2. X1 slides to the left elbow.
If the top opposing player is a post player, the defense should initially align in a 1-2-2. Switch to the Diamond and One as soon as the ball crosses half-court.
X5 fronts the top post player. X4 is under the basket. X2 and X3 are on the elbows to cut off any initial pass to the high post.
If the ball is passed to 3, X5 fronts 5. X4 is under the basket. X3 closes out on the ball. X2 denies the pass to 4. X1 slides to the right elbow.
If the ball is passed to 2, X4 switches onto 5. X5 is under the basket. X3 slides to the middle. X2 closes out on the ball. X1 slides to the left elbow.
Here are two simple drills to reinforce three concepts crucial in running the Diamond and One: denying the ball, covering ground on the zone, and fighting through screens.
Drill #1: 6 on 5 Half-Court Scrimmage
Guarding an extra player in practice will bode well for the Diamond and One during the game. It will force your players to cover more ground.
If your team is game planning against a top perimeter player, the offense should use four perimeter players, a high post, and a low post.
If your team is game planning against a top post player, the offense should use 3 perimeter players, a high post, and two low posts.
Drill #2: 1 on 1 Shadow Drill
The 1 on 1 Shadow Drill is a fun and competitive way to develop your players' ability to shadow the offensive player on the perimeter.
The goal for each player is to earn 5 points to win the competition. Each player gets 2 points for successfully denying the ball and 1 point for getting a defensive stop.
The defender's goal is to deny the ball for more than five seconds. Denying the ball for a five second count is worth 2 points.
If the pass is made, it becomes a 1 on 1 battle. The offensive player is limited to three dribbles.
If the offense scores, the offense switches to defense. The defense switches to the middle.
If the defense gets a stop, the defense stays on defense. The offense switches to the middle. The middle switches to offense.
Add screeners to make it more challenging for the defender to deny the ball. Teams usually set screens to get their best players open. It is crucial to teach your players how to fight through screens.
Same rules apply as before. If 2 catches a pass, 4 and 5 can set ball-screens but are not allowed to score. 2 is also not allowed to pass to 4 or 5.