Kevin O’Neill USC/Memphis Grizzlies Defensive Concepts by Erick Blasing

Kevin O’Neill USC/Memphis Grizzlies Defensive Concepts by Erick Blasing


First of all, I apologize for the quality of the prints but that is how I received this information from the USC basketball office. Although it was only one season, Kevin O’Neill’s time on the Memphis Grizzlies bench obviously made a big impression on him. The defensive system that Coach O’Neill used at USC was highly influenced by his time in the NBA.


2008-2009 Memphis Grizzlies:
The 08-09 Grizzlies were a team in transition with 3 head coaches during the course of the season. The finished the season with new head coach, Lionel Hollins and that started their transition to one of the most competitive teams in the Western Conference.



00 Darrell Arthur

1 Kyle Lowry

3 Javaris Crittenton

3 Darius Miles

7 Greg Buckner

11 Mike Conley

13 Quinton Ross

15 Hamed Haddadi

21 Hakim Warrick

22 Rudy Gay

30 Adonal Foyle

31 Darko Milicic

32 OJ Mayo

33 Marc Gasol

55 Marko Jaric


Points Allowed Per Game: 99.3 #14 in the NBA



For today, I have included the document in the order that it was sent to me. We start with the Memphis help defense, shrink positions, defending dribble penetration, and dig and recover on the post.

memphis grizzlies defensive concepts


USC/Memphis Grizzlies Defensive Concepts |  Help Defense:


USC/Memphis Grizzlies Defensive Concepts  |      General Help Principles:

  1. Help immediately
  2. Don’t help a ball that doesn’t need help
  3. Attack penetration
  4. Trap the box
  5. Sink and fill
  6. “Crush” paint catches
  7. Dig on the strong side
  8. Start in your shrink positions


Shrink positions

  1. vs. Post touches
  2. Ball at the key
  3. Ball at the wing


  1. Vs. Penetrating Drives
  1. No splitting of the gaps


  1. Go vs. Blow Bys
  1. Guards run and jump and rotate for each other
  2. Posts do not rotate on a smaller guard


  1. Stepping up with the shooter
  1. Step up, help, and rotate if guarding a man weakside corner
  2. Stunt don’t step up if guarding a ball side shooter


  1. Flat drives
  1. Stunt vs. non-penetrating drives


  1. Trap the box / sink and fill
  1. Trap baseline drives and rotate behind


  1. Vs. Baseline Drive and Spin Dribble
  1. Normal help principles with a stunt


  1. Vs. Small Guards dribble drive baseline behind the backboard
  1. Get back to your own man on baseline drives by “midget” guards


  1. Dig and Recover vs. Post Feeds
  1. Ball entered from above big = small digs with back to the half-court
  2. Ball entered below the big = small digs with back to the baseline

Click on the pdf link to download the USC/Memphis Grizzlies Defensive Concepts – Kevin O’Neill:

USC/Memphis Grizzlies Defensive Concepts – Kevin O’Neill

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