Defense has often been associated with new Ole Miss head men’s basketball coach Chris Beard. It was one of the first things he talked about when telling fans what to expect from his new Rebel teams.
That said, in an exclusive sit-down interview with Inside the Rebels, he talked about it basically being at the very core of what his teams want to do overall, even offensively too to some degree.
“If you want to win six games in three weekends, you got to have a defense. You can’t rely on your offense to be on all cylinders for for six straight games. If you want to win in this league, the SEC, one of the premier, toughest leagues in college basketball, you obviously have to defend. We also understand the teams and coaches you have to play against are playing against Hall of Fame coaches and NBA players. We have to manufacture some offense from our defense as well,” Beard told Inside the Rebels. “You have to get stops to run and get blocks and steals to get easy baskets. When we’re talking about our defense, we’re not just talking about one side of the ball, we’re just talking about basically trying to win, trying to compete for championships.”
In previous seasons, Beard’s teams have been known to have something along the lines of a “no middle” style defense. Would he agree?
“I would agree with that. There’s not doubt about that. But there’s some other things we really believe in,” Beard said. “We don’t want to let the opponent come down the floor do what they want to do. It’s easy to sit here and talk about, but much harder to do out there on game night. We want to be an aggressive defense, try to take something away from you. In the SEC, with these coaches and these players we have to compete against, we can’t take everything away. That’s wishful thinking. We do try to be an aggressive defense that dictates hopefully what you’re able to do on offense. It’s no secret when that ball gets to the middle, it’s an advantage to the offense.”
Although he obviously wants some of his offense to come directly from his defense, Beard believes that offense shouldn’t be solely about plays, but having his players be in the best position to make plays. More specifically, being player-based and having variety more than anything.
“With our offense, it’s always going to be player-based,” Beard said. “We play a little bit different offensively every team I’ve ever coached over the years because I believe basketball is about our players and not about plays. We’re going to try and put our best players and best scorers in position where they can be successful. We’re going to try and play with great space to give our best players room to play their games. There’s some non-negotiables on both sides of the floor. Offense, we’re going to have to take great shots with shot selection, we’re going to have to play fast pace. The weakest part of any defense is early. We want to get down there and play against the weakest part of our opponent’s defense, not the best part.”
“I think you also have to have some variety in our offense, diversity. You can be really really good at posting up, but again, the other team can kind of figure that out. You can be really good at the pick-and-roll, but but you have to have something when someone gets you out of that from time to time. One thing we’ve always tried to emphasize, teach and execute is variety in the offense, the ability to play in the open court, play off ball screens, pick-and-roll, the ability to have players we can iso, the ability in our offense to post people up and the ability to have some movement to read the defense. That’s basically what motion offense is. It’s not plays, it’s having out players make plays.”
Inside the Rebels will continue to provide coverage of the offseason as things progress.