March 5, 2008 - by
Toney Douglas – The Art of A Steal — In My Own Words

March 5, 2008

“Defense is something that I have really worked to be good at. Not only have I worked on my individual defense but I have worked very hard on playing team defense. I’m not a player who gambles or takes chances – I am a player who studies a great deal of film and who gets to know the tendencies of the players who I will be playing against.

The first thing I look for in the player I am guarding are the “mistakes” I feel he might make during a game.

The first mistake I look for is how is my opponent handling the basketball? Does he have a high dribble? If he does have a high dribble then in my mind it’s “rip city” for me. When I see a person with a high dribble, I work to put a lot of ball pressure on that player in an effort to force him to make a mistake as he is bringing the ball up the court or running their system.

Another thing I look at when the player I am guarding comes down the court is his eyes. I look directly into his eyes. That will tell me a lot about that player. I want to see if he is nervous, humble or really scared. Most of the time, I make my opponent show his weaknesses.

Another aspect of my game that allows me to be a good defender is that I feel I can anticipate the off the ball defender well. I love to shoot through the passing lanes to get steals. I work very hard to keep the ball out of the hands of the player I am defending. I want to make him deal with me throughout the game and feel like I am blanketing him.

I have worked to improve my defense this season with much of that work coming during the off-season. The two things I worked on the most were improving my foot speed and enhancing my conditioning level. I just don’t want to be known as a scorer in college basketball. I want to have an all-around game.

I never give up and I always keep my intensity to a high level of play whenever I am on the court. I think that is the main thing I can do to become a strong defender.

The amount of steals I get in a game really doesn’t matter to me. What really matters to me is playing good team defense and playing good defense as a team. If we play good team defense and get a lot of deflections and steals as a team then we can usually have a good chance to win any game we are in. Our coaches have taught us that defense wins games and we really do believe that. When we play good defense – good team defense – then we play well on offense. When we are working hard on defense, we have opportunities to score on offense and that’s a good recipe for wins.

When I become a better all-around player that’s when I know I will be on my way to becoming a complete player.”

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