On dribble drives to the basket, the secondary defender is most often the player who will or will not obtain a legal guarding position prior to contact.
In this dribble drive to the basket, there are several court mechanics worth discussing as they are highlighted well in this video. Let’s take a look at the Trail official job first. On this dribble drive, the trail official has the match-up in his primary coverage area as the play begins. His primary defender is Blue #20. He is going to stay with this defender even as it passes into the opposite lane. His responsibility is any contact caused by Blue #20. At this point, he is the only one of the officials who can referee the defender.
As the drive passes the free throw line however, the responsibility is going to shift to the center official. Center is able to obtain a better view between Blue #20 and the dribbler. As this play moves out of Trail’s primary and into Center’s primary, the center is able to see between the players to determine if there is any illegal contact.
Two steps later, there is a crash. Who has the secondary defender? The secondary defender, who obtains a legal position before contact is in the center’s primary coverage area. In this play, the secondary defender moves out of lead’s primary. However, even though this play happens in center’s primary coverage area, it would be better ruled on by the lead official!
A word about lead. Obviously, this would be better if lead was on the other side of the lane, but this play can happen from either side, opposite from the lead. In this situation, the best you can hope for is that lead is all the way closed down and as close to this play as possible when the contact occurs. In lead, make sure you always mirror the ball and then close down when the ball is opposite.