Check out these three effective offensive plays designed to attack zone defenses. You’ll get an overview of each play and a full diagram before seeing the play being run in action on the court with real players. The following plays offer a variety of options for teams, from three-pointers to pick & rolls and even inside looks in the post. Meanwhile, one play is even ideal for a last-second shot at the end of a quarter or game.
Over (vs. 2-3 Zone)
Submitted by Jim Calhoun, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Overview: This play is run out of a 1-2-2 set. It’s been very effective for the UConn men’s basketball program. At one point, this play was run on 42 possessions and saw the team score 31 times.
The Set-up: 5 and 4 set up behind the zone. 5 starts out on the low left block and 4 is between 3-point arc and the right low block. Meanwhile, 2 and 3 line up on each wing behind the 3-point line. 1 begins with the ball up at the top of the key.
The Action: 1 dribbles in a few steps at the top of the key to draw two defenders and then passes to three on the right wing. 5 then sets a back screen on the middle defender in the lane. 4 then sets a back screen for either the near forward or middle defender. At the same time, 3 passes back to 1 and then cuts toward the basketball and through to the opposite corner. As 3 makes his cut, 2 quickly set a down screen on the offside forward. 1 then receives the pass from 3 and then swings it back to 3 in the corner.
The Finish: 3 can shoot the three-pointer or make an entry pass to 5 sealing on the low block.
Pick & Roll vs. 2-3 Zone
Submitted by Brent Lemond, Vanguard High School, Ocala, FL
The Set-up: This play starts off in a 2-1-2 set. The 5 player starts out at the free throw line area and then steps out and screens for 1. The defender here should be forced to help on 1, leaving 2 open for the shot on the wing. If the defender (X3) steps out to take the shooter, 2 then looks for 3 in the short corner.
The Finish: From here, 3 will look to score or can drive and dish. If defender X5 moves to cover the short corner, then 2 can hit 5 after the screen is set.
Last Shot Against Zone
Submitted by Pat Sullivan, Head Men’s Coach at College of St. Francis, Joliet, IL
The Set-up: The initial set up is a 1-2-2. The ball is moved around until about 15 seconds remain on the clock, if possible. Attack the inside first. Make sure a shot is taken with less than six seconds left.
The Action: 1 passes to 3 on the left side wing area and then moves toward the pass to create a lane for 3’s return pass. Meanwhile, 2 should be your best shooter and then moves down and creates a stack with 5 on the low block. 3 will then set a screen below 4 on the opposite low block. 1 then dribbles to the middle of the floor and reads player 2’s cut. 2 then either flares out to the corner off of 5’s screen on the low block or heads to the opposite corner thanks to the double screen set by 4 and 3 on the low block.
The Finish: Player 1’s first look should be to 4 on a flash in the paint. The option is also there for 5, who is also flaring in the post. If 1 passes to 2 off the double screen, then 3 should clear to the opposite side corner. The options also exist for 2 to take the jumper or 2 can feed 4 down low. The play can be run to opposite sides and be sure to look for 4 as your first option at the outset.