Breakthrough Basketball Newsletter:
How to Attack a Box & 1 Defense

February 18th, 2022


Here's what we have for you this week...

  • How to Attack a Box & 1 Defense - This defense may be effective for a bit of the game, but you can break it down & beat it!

  • This Unique Ball Screen Offense Blasts Team to #5 in NCAA DII - Check it out!

  • Former Breakthrough Camper Joins 2,000 Point Club!

Keep on scrolling for details!


How to Attack a Box & 1 Defense

If teams have put the Box & 1 on your best player, you know it can wear him or her down physically and mentally because they run, run, run to get open and might get a bit deflated if they're not scoring as usual.

And if you don't have a ton of other scorers, then you're in jeopardy.

When played properly, the Box & 1 can be very effective - but only for a period of time. They get figured out - which is why teams don't play them all the time.

When played properly, the Box & 1 can be very effective - but only for a period of time. They get figured out - which is why teams don't play them all the time.

It's really not that tricky to beat this here are some strategies (from this article by Don Kelbick) to capitalize on the weaknesses of the Box & 1 defense:


How Do You Attack a Box & 1 Defense?

First and foremost, I believe you play as normally as you can. Try to make your players as comfortable as possible.

Teach your players to understand what they are facing, and if you have taught them well, they will respond. Help them to understand that possessions will be longer due to the fact that it takes a little while for the weaknesses of the defense to show up.

If you run a motion offense...stick with it. You can break down the defense quickly by...

  • Having the ball switch sides

  • Running screens

  • Creating a lot of movement

I like to run the "Get Series" or "Designated Shooter" that is referred to in these "Motion Offense Videos".

If you run a zone offense with a lot of movement...that would be my first line of offense.

Remember, most of these defenses are zones as a basic defense. Taking a man out of the defense to play your player man-to-man will weaken the zone and create opportunities for you.

Within your offense, make a concerted effort to get the ball inside, even if you don't have an inside scorer. All defenses break down when the ball goes inside.

  • Once the ball goes inside, you will get scoring opportunities.

  • Once they defend the post, your perimeter players will open up.

  • Play inside out for perimeter play. This will even open up the defended player because the ball will be behind the defender much of the time, and his concentration level can only last so long before it breaks down.

I would not put in any special plays, though. I might make some adjustments, based on what I see in the defense, but those adjustments will be a part of what my team already knows offensively and are familiar with.

It is very difficult to get players to execute their everyday offenses. To give them something new or special due to this situation would be a very tough task.


How Do You Prepare For a Box & 1 Defense?

Obviously, you have to practice against it. But I think that spending time on defenses like the Box & 1 or the Triangle & 2 might weaken your team as a whole.

However, I think you can practice against the Box & 1 by making some small adjustments within what you normally practice.

Use "defense disadvantage" drills as part of your defensive progressions. These are drills that are stacked against the defense having success:

  • Do a lot of 4 on 3 (4 offense, 3 defense) and 5 on 4 drills. We probably spent more time in 5 on 4 drills than 5 on 5.

  • Inside of those drills, it is easy to add 1 more defensive player and tell him to defend 1 particular player.

  • The emphasis is not on the one player playing man-to-man. The emphasis of the drill is still 4 on 3 or 5 on 4 so the players are still comfortable playing the defense.

  • However, the offense must adjust to 1 player under pressure. Your players will feel that they have to do whatever they are doing, just a little better.

If you expect to face a Box & 1 defense, I don't believe you should take 20 minutes out of your practice and put your 2nd team into a Box & 1.

They won't play it as well as your opponents; they won't be excited about it.

I would not install anything special because, given the limited preparation time, you won't be good at it.

You could have used the time to get better at what YOU do as opposed to what THEY do. Spend your time getting better and getting your players comfortable with what you do instead of being concerned about what they do.


On a side note, I have never played a Box & 1 or Triangle & 2. I use this defensive strategy instead...

I try to use things that are inside my regular defense. My basic man to man defense has ball side pressure and very heavy weak side help. We do a lot of switching in the back.

In games, we will play a "chaser." We will take one player and tell him he has no help responsibilities. His job is to keep one particular player from getting the ball. Sometimes we will play with 2 chasers.

We practice this every day because we actually use it. As a result, if we should face one of these defenses, our players will have seen it so often that they have no issues with it.

In addition, our defense has gotten better because of the work we do.

The purpose of the above is not to blow my own horn, but to illustrate that you probably have things that you do already that will prepare you to play against a Box & 1 and improve your team at the same time.


Coach Uses Rocket Offense to Blast to #5 Ranking in NCAA Division II

Coach Tom Billeter, creator of the Rocket Offense - a continuity ball screen offense - and his Augustana team have reached a #5 ranking in the NCAA Division II standings with a 21-2 record.

Coach Billeter learned from the best...Lute Olson, Fran Fraschilla, and overseas teams with unique screening methods.

Keep piling the wins on, Augustana!

(You can learn more about the Billeter's ball screen offense "The Rocket Offense" here.)


Former Breakthrough Camper Joins 2,000 Point Club...and Commits to DI

Bri Frongillo scored her 2,000 career point with a first half 3-pointer in Hopedale, Massachusetts, on Feb. 15, 2022!

We found out via this Tweet:

"Bri Frongillo is an absolute dog! Knew this girl was special when I met her way back when at a BreakthruBball camp when she was in 7th grade. Had her play with my 9/10th group- mostly boys. And let me tell you, them boys were impressed by her. Happy for you Bri!!"

Congratulations, Bri! We'll watch you score for the Bryant University Bulldogs next season!



- Joe Haefner
Breakthrough Basketball