Coaches often teach for the first defender to guard the ball and the second defender to guard the first pass. If defended this way who covers the man cutting to the hoop from the back side? Many coaches would say the first defender needs to drop back to cover the cutter from getting the ball. This is a tough coverage and must be done with almost perfect timing. If the timing is off the cutter could score, be fouled, or both.
One of my basketball philosophies is to take the high percentage shot when we are on offense and eliminate the high percentage shot for the other team when we are on defense. With this in mind, lets look at another, more successful way, to cover the 3 on 2 break.
Have the first defender take the ball and the first pass. This leaves your second defender back to protect the basket. This will leave the third player open on the opposite three point line, but so did having a man drop to cover the basket, so we haven’t given up anything really. What we are doing is lowering the chance of the offense getting a lay-up, a foul, or both a basket and a foul.
By taking away one moving part you leave a defender in the paint to stop the cutter, help on a drive to the basket, and a rebound any outside shot. If your other defenders haven’t retreated back to help on defense by the second pass the problem isn’t the 3 on 2, its your entire transition defense.