I often get asked the question, “which defense do you think is better…man to man or zone?” It’s a rather interesting question because both types of defenses have their ups and downs, but if I had to choose one I’d have to choose man to man. The reason is simple. Man to man defense is the essence of basketball defense. When basketball was in it’s early years back in the late 1800s and early 1900s there was no such thing as zone defense. It was all about guarding an opposing player and making sure that person didn’t score. In my personal opinion with man to man defense the game becomes a lot more intimate and “in your face” so to speak. Having to follow your man around, fighting through screens, and mostly likely having that person guard you when you’re playing offense…that’s what it’s all about. Zone defenses definitely have their benefits like forcing shooters to shoot jump shots, being able to trap and double team the ball handler, and conserving energy since it’s not as physically demanding, but all those things don’t capture the essence of basketball defense. So the next time someone asks me that question I’ll have an answer ready because it’s all about the essence.