I came across the Lock Left defense about the same time I came across this quote, “teams don’t fail because they are wrong, teams fail because they don’t commit.” So that has been my guiding principle throughout the season – no matter what, we were going to commit to the defense and give it a fair chance to develop and evaluate it. While we have been far from perfect in our execution, the defense has been an unquestioned success for us. We are a boys program in the 7A (largest) classification in Florida, so we play some elite level competition. We’ve managed to win 10 games so far with a group that is clearly less athletic and less skilled than most of our competition.
As for buy in, we showed our kids a shot chart from last year so that they could see we were losing games because we were giving up far too many right handed layups and three pointers. Then we made the case for why this defense would solve those problems. We had some early success and that allowed us to build some momentum. Truth be told, we had to find a way to do something different, because lining up with traditional defensive concepts was not going to lead to success for us. We kept emphasizing that this was “our” system, and that nobody else was doing what we were doing. It was our secret. The kids really bought into that. Finally, when the opposition would make a tough, contested layup from the left side, we would tell our players, “good for them, now let’s see if they can do that 25 times a game” which they understood was a tall task.
I’ll go over the numbers in a second, but first I wanted to share some of the adjustments we’ve had to make. Early in the year we were struggling with straight line drives, even from the left side. So we had to adjust the mid line defenders to step out a little more. This left an open offensive player on the opposite block, which we’ve had to teach them to rotate down from the top mid line spot. We have finally adjusted well to that and are starting to get deflections and steals on block to block passes. Finally, our biggest struggle has been fouling. We try too much to block shots and steal the ball on the drive. We’re working on making them show their hands so that teams aren’t getting to the foul line against us. The bigger point here is that if we did not commit to the defense we never would have made it far enough to figure out these adjustments. I promise you that you can, and will, beat good teams with this defense.
Here is where I get excited about our defense. Our opponent’s efg is 42.1% down from 48.6% last season. Points per possession is down to .84 from .97. Assists are down to 9.3 from 13.4 57% of our opponent’s shots come from the left side of the court, up from 50% last season. I’m most proud of our three point defense. We allow less than 4 per game, last season we gave up over 7. And the percentages are down as well, 25.7% from 30.8%. Finally, we are at our best in the 4th quarter, because this defense wears people down. Their efg drops to 36.1% in the 4th while their turnover percentage is up to 23.3%. Last year we were at 47.1% and 16.9% respectively. And we are still learning and getting better at it!
I apologize for the long winded post but wanted to give some honest feedback about what has worked for us. I’d be happy to help in any way I can, please let me know if you have any other questions. Best of luck!