The amoeba defense in basketball is a defensive strategy which is used to wear out the players of the offensive team. It is a risky strategy that combines zone and man-to-man defenses.

The defensive strategy’s set-up is like a diamond. The quickest players of the team or the shooting and point guards are positioned at the top of the key and right above the free throw line. The biggest defender of the team on the other hand, which is commonly the power or center forward is positioned under the basket while two defenders are set below the elbows and on the opposite sides of the lane. These positions are installed to ensure that offensive players have no way in and can easily tire out.

History of the Amoeba Defense

The amoeba defense was created by the assistant coach of the men’s basketball team of Pittsburgh Panther, Fran Webster. It was in the 1970s when Webster and the head coaches, Tim Grgurich and Charles Ridl of the Panthers perfected the defensive strategy. Later on, Tim Grgurich became the assistant coach of Jerry Tarkanian at UNLV and utilized the defensive strategy.

Due to utilizing the amoeba defense, the Pittsburgh Panthers were able to win 22 straight games during the 1974 season of the Elite 8. After this, the defensive strategy became popular to other amateur basketball teams.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The amoeba defense as a strategy is considered a risky one. But when used properly, it can rip off a good number of advantages including easy layups and fast breaks. Another advantage of the strategy is its ability to disrupt any kind of offense which leads to a good number of scoring steaks. This is especially true when combined with man-to-man defense.

When it comes to disadvantages, the defensive strategy also has its own. One of these is that when the strategy does not work, it can always lead to an open shot or an uncontested layup. Another is that a defensive player may miss an interception when a ball is passed. Lastly is that the strategy may easily give an offensive player a wide opening for a shot especially when a triple team occurs and the defensive player cannot close out quickly enough.