A New Era Part Two: How to Stop the NCAA Basketball Big Men

Andrew KneelandSenior Writer IMarch 25, 2008

Following up Part One of my two-part series, these are a few ways for teams without a designated big man to have success against teams that do.

Use Penetrators

I mentioned this in part one, but I think that it is one of the best solutions for small teams.

The perfect example of this is the Texas Longhorns.

Early this season the Longhorns were lacking a post player to post up in the paint. Did they just adopt the philosophy of perimeter play? Yes, but they added a different aspect to their plays.

Just ask head coach Rick Barnes:

"There are different ways to get a post game. Having D.J. (Augustin) drive the ball to the rim and score or get fouled is no different than punching the ball inside to a post guy and having him score or get fouled." 

Find a Middle-Sized Big Man

You don't need a seven-foot Brook Lopez to be able to grab rebounds and defend other big men.

Although he isn't the perfect post defender or rebound snatcher, Memphis has depended on 6'9'' Joey Dorsey to do most of the grunt work on both ends of the court. Tiger's head coach John Calipari can't stress enough the importance of someone, anyone, to guard the opposing big men.

"When you look at Florida and all those teams that won, their guard play was unbelievable, but they had someone who could defensively anchor down the lane and then get a couple of easy baskets." 

Effectively Shoot the Three-Pointer

When you look at this year's Field of 65, you may wonder how teams like Butler or Drake got invited.

The answer? Perimeter play.

The tallest players on Butler's team this year are excellent from behind the arc. 6'7'' Pete Campbell drains 44 percent of his treys (91 out of 206).

Drake also gets great perimeter play from their mid-sized man. 6'8'' Jonathan Cox makes 43 percent of his three-pointers (40 of 94).

Drake head coach Keno Davis explains the pros and cons of not having a big man:

"We have difficulty sometimes defending on the inside, but teams with bigger players have trouble guarding us on the perimeter." 

Extend Your Offense and Defense 

Probably the most effective of all the strategies, spreading out the floor and quickening the game is one of the best things you can do as a team without a big man.

Just ask the Duke Blue Devils, the Memphis Tigers, the Tennessee Vols, or the Texas Longhorns. If you spread out the floor it provides more opportunities to penetrate, fast break, and shoot the three-pointer.

Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl provides a good summary:

"(If you have a very fast team) the only place where you don't have an advantage is in the paint. On defense you pressure the ball, you turn them over and you create offense out of your defense. Then you spread the floor offensively and use the three-point line, and you can score points without having a low-post presence."