There are signs that college players no longer think of defense as something to be endured at the "other end" of the floor. And coaches, pro scouts, even the fans are showing a growing appreciation of the artful player who can seal off a drive, block a shot or intercept a pass. Eight of this season's best stoppers are shown here and on the next four pages, along with diagrams illustrating several of the defensive basics. Following that is an analysis of how the sport's sophisticated new multiple defenses affect the game.
HOLD YOUR PLACE
Darnell Valentine of Kansas demonstrates the most fundamental skill of good man-to-man defense, the ability to achieve and maintain an aggressive position—one that limits an opponent's options—against the man with the ball. Valentine forces Iowa State's Andrew Parker to the right of the key (see diagram) and stops him from penetrating all the way to the basket. As a result, Parker must stop his dribble and pass to an open man.
DENY THE BALL
Mississippi's Elston Turner is trying to "deny the ball," which is one of the most difficult of defensive assignments. Turner must be constantly aware of the location of the ball, of Alabama's Reggie King (52) and of the passing lanes to King inside. When King makes his cut toward the basket (diagram), Turner must not only move right with him, but he must also keep an eye on the ball and extend a hand to discourage or deflect the pass.
KNOW YOUR OPPONENT
Iowa's Kevin Boyle (X) always tries to be conscious of his man's options. In the example pictured and diagramed here, Boyle knows that Ohio State's Carter Scott (15) may want to dribble toward the baseline because he is lefthanded, try an outside shot (yellow line) or pass to Jim Smith (23), who has set up near the basket.
BLOCK HIM OUT
Illinois' Neil Bresnahan knows that blocking out, or gaining the inside position, is usually more important in rebounding than height or jumping ability. As Michigan State shoots from outside, Bresnahan uses a reverse pivot (diagram) to take the inside position away from Spartan Ron Charles.
Rudy Woods of Texas A&M is able to block the shot of New Mexico's Larry Belin because of a team effort. A&M's 2-3 zone (diagram) prevents the ball from going to the Lobos' best outside shooter, who is standing in the left corner, and funnels a drive in to Woods.