The Line Defense is a defensive strategy used in basketball. It is referred to as the "line defense" because of its formation on the court, which consists of two lines of defense. Three players at the front of the defense (at the half-court center line) and two players behind (between the center line and the team's own key). The line was the first zone concept to be used in basketball. The line defense was developed to counter the fast break plays that were being developed, and adopted, at the time. The line defense was the catalyst of the future 3-2 zone defense.
After the team has made a basket, or has turned over the ball, they will sprint back across the center line and turn around to pick up their checks. They form two lines of defense; the first line is made of three forwards and the second line is made of the two remaining guards. The first line allows the first two players to pass through the line (to be picked up by the two guards in the back) and then the forwards will challenge the remaining checks coming across the line. The plan was to make the other team lose the dribble or make a bad pass. The play was not a true zone as the players realigned themselves with their checks as they approached the center line, making the play a man-to-man defense.
Teams started to break down the line defense when they were able to get an offensive player(s) behind the line before the defending team was able to set up the defensive line. This helped to create plays such as the fly fast break, the fast break, or the 2-Out Fast break.
Walter "Doc" Meanwell was a football coach, at University of Wisconsin–Madison, before he started coaching basketball at the university. The Line Defense was a defensive line play formation, in American football strategy, that was applied to basketball.