No Fastball Defense

No Fastball Defense

With the MLB Word Series going on right now, the Nevada Wolf Pack added a baseball phrase to their defensive terminology. The Pack have begun using a phrase that Jason Kidd and the Milwaukee Bucks have: "NO FASTBALLS!"

A fastball is considered as a pass completed by an opposing player in the optimal spot, at the optimal speed, at the optimal moment.  

During practices Nevada coaches yell, "NO FASTBALLS," to remind the defenders not to allow easy, direct passes. "Our defense is built around length, ball pressure, and forcing the offense to make indirect passes, passes that are not always easy to handle," Coach Musselman explained, "our staff constantly re-enforces this idea every day by telling players to play defense in a stance with active hands."

Coach Musselman often shows film to give examples of possessions where the defense caused a turnover or missed shot because of their active hands. On the flip side, he also shows possessions of the defense not playing in a stance with active hands. On these clips the offense is able to run their set plays with ease, usually resulting in a made basket or getting fouled.

To stress the importance of playing a "NO FASTBALLS" defense, the team goes through shell and other practice drills where players are forced to be in a stance with active hands for an entire possession. Other terms used by Coach Musselman include "windmill" as well as having your "windshield wipers up." These analogies remind everyone the significant impact that carrying a hand on defense can make.  

The coaching staff even charts deflections in games and in practices during live interactions. The Pack have a goal of getting 30 deflections a game. Deflections are whenever a defender gets a piece of the ball. It doesn’t always result in a turnover, but it is the staple point of our "NO FASTBALLS" defense in forcing indirect passes. Deflections are put in the hustle statistics category because playing with active hands comes down to pure effort. Before film sessions, Coach Musselman will pull up a chart for players to see who the team leaders are in deflections during that week of practice. 

Hall Josh Grand Canyon 10 22 17 24 preview#33 Josh Hall (sophomore) is one of the team leaders in deflections every week.

Playing with active hands on defense is something that is expected on every single NBA team. How else would a defender even have a chance at trying to stop LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, etc. without active hands? With his Coach Musselman’s NBA background he learned not only how to teach players to play with active hands, but also how to ingrain it on a daily basis so that it becomes a habit for them every time they step on the court.    

Last season Nevada was 15th in the country at defending the three-ball, holding opponents to a 31 three-point field goal percentage. This year, the Wolf Pack look to continue their defensive numbers with their "NO FASTBALLS" defense.