Charting Defensive Accountability – Part 1

In a previous post (Overlooked Old School Advanced Stat-Matchup+/-) we discussed the simplicity and timeliness of the old school thinking of the goal of having each player outscore the opponent he is guarding or the goal of having each position outscore the corresponding position of the opponent (point-guard/point-guard etc.).   As a quick measuring stick, it can serve its purpose.

However, for a broader and much more accurate view of how each of one’s players fare in any game or season, charting defensive accountability is the ticket.  Quite simply, for total accuracy the exercise has to be done by a staff member (who is totally knowledgeable of the team’s defensive principles and expectations of any and all of that team’s defenses) off video after the game, possession by possession.  I’ve been doing it this season at the college level and it takes me 75-90 minutes.  But at the end, each player is assessed a point total of Points Give Up.  I use that term because there is the term, Points Allowed, floating around which universally means something else.

Points Given Up is system specific.  If you defend screen-roll a certain way, you assign points specifically to that method.  The same goes for transition defense, blocking out, defending the post, help, recovery and so on.  There is only so much a computer programmer or an individual in England, Dubai or the U.S.A. for that matter, can do when it comes to YOUR system.  You, or a trusted individual has to do the possession tagging to be really accurate-especially at the defensive end.

So, with that said, please consider the attached Sample Defensive Accountability Chart, which is the possession by possession defensive accountability of an actual college game.  Identities have been changed to protect the innocent.

Some explanations are necessary:

  • The first column reflects the number of points scored by the opponents.
  • The second column is the player (or players) accountable for the points given up.  Keep in mind that EVERY point is accountable, even those for which the defensive player did everything right.  A classic example would be a perfect closeout where the shooter makes a tough shot under extreme duress.
  • The third column assigns a defensive category to the points scored.  Common categories are Transition, Containment, Help, Screen/Roll, Blocking Out, Cuts, Post-Ups etc.  Since it’s your system, you can name the categories anything you want.
  • The fourth column is a catch-all column which records positive actions, (Blocks, Steals, Caused Turnovers, Changed Shots, Deflections) and negative actions for non-scoring possessions which, in theory, in many cases leads to points given up.  I call these “misses”- contains, blockouts, transitions, helps, closeouts etc.
  • Obviously, there are scoreless possessions for which there are no notes and no misses.  Clearly, in a perfect world, one would want all no-note scoreless possessions.  The higher percentage of no-note scoreless possessions, the better.  In this particular game, there were 26 no-miss, scoreless possessions out of 68 possessions for a rate of 38%.  I would tell you that is easily above average for most games.

In a future post, we’ll discuss further explanations and thoughts on the sample spreadsheet.


  1. Coach I wish it will let you download the excel spreadsheet. I would love to put one together for my team to see how they are performing for us in practice and game situations.

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