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"Wisconsin Badger Defensive Rules" - By Jared Berggren

Wisconsin Badger Defensive Rules

In a previous post, I talked about some of the pros and cons of different defensive strategies. Today, I will go into further detail about the more conservative defensive approach we took at Wisconsin.

One of the trademarks of Wisconsin basketball has always been their defense. We prided ourselves on always being in the right place to make things difficult for our opponents and frustrating them into forcing bad shots when easy ones don’t open up.

Defense was our calling card and if you didn’t do your job on any particular play you were held accountable by being subbed out of the game for any defensive mistake.


-Don’t foul, move your feet and don’t reach.

-Don’t jump to block shots. “Chest up”

-Don’t gamble for steals. If you go for a steal you better be certain you get it or that’s another quick trip to the bench.

-Push drivers to the middle; don’t allow baseline drives. Help is always available in middle.

-Be in help side early. “Be a policeman. People don’t commit crimes when the police are there.”

-Take charges. Players aren’t as aggressive after getting called for a charge

-In ball screen D, always force the ball handler to the screen, don’t allow rejects.

-Defender of ball handler goes over the screen and big will play a flat hedge, if ball handler attacks hard, guard and big will switch.

-Pick and pop is automatic switch, with few exceptions (ex: big pops but is not a shooter, simply looking to swing the ball to opposite side to continue the play)

-Chase shooters off screens, don’t take a shortcut by going under the screen

-No same-side help. Help comes from player furthest from the ball in most situations

-Sprint back on D- no easy transition points

Having specific, clear rules for every situation allowed us to be on the same page at all times. Of course there were gray areas (ex: when to switch vs stay with your man) but we would break every clip down in film and master the timing and nuances of exactly what needed to be done, and over time, we would understand each other so well that we would know exactly what our teammate needed in any situation.

The approach we took from a defensive standpoint fit our style of play and the type of players we had and gave us the best chance to be successful by having clear rules that could be consistently followed for 40 minutes.

Nothing fancy, but it’s not always what you do, but how you do it.


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