Two Dynamic Set Plays to Beat the 2-3 Zone Defense

The 2-3 Zone Defense is one of the most common zone defenses implemented by high school and college basketball teams. Quite simply, it’s effective with the right personnel. Here are two proven plays designed to attack the 2-3 zone. Follow along with the movements and actions before watching the set plays be carried out live on the court. Then look to feature  these plays in your playbook later this season.

Set Play vs. 2-3 Zone Defense

Submitted by Ricky Norris, Oak Ridge HS, Oak Ridge, TN

The Set-up: This play is designed to create a mismatch for your perimeter player who has the ability to score close to the basket. Begin in a 1-3-1 look.

The Action: Make a first pass to 2 on the right wing. 1 then moves to the corner on the left side (weak-side). Now 2 must catch the ball above the free-throw line. The defender X1 will then go out to guard 2. Next, 3 moves into a position below the free-throw line and into the left corner.

Now, 4 must make a ball screen just off the right elbow. 2 goes hard off of this screen and passes to 3 across the court to the far wing. He/she can also pass to 1 if X3 cheats.

The Finish: 3 now has several options: Hit 1 who is isolated in the short corner against X5 OR pass to 4 who is diving to the low block OR pass to 5 in the midpost for a jumpshot or a dump down to 4.


“Pitt” Set Play vs. 2-3 Zone Defense

Submitted by Jim Boeheim, Head Men’s Basketball Coach, Syracuse University

This is a tough set play to defend against for a 2-3 zone. Pittsburgh had a lot of success using this against Syracuse when Brandon Knight was their featured guard.

The Set-up: Set up two players behind the zone along the baseline and then place a post player on the weakside elbow.

The Action: A guard will bring up the ball on the left side of the floor, drawing the top defender toward him/her. The other guard cuts from the right side and receives a pass from the ball handler. The weakside forward then cuts wide into the corner.

Next, the player at the elbow breaks to the top and sets a backscreen on the top defender. The guard curls around the screen and drives straight to the basket. The drive to the bucket is always the first option. But as the middle defender steps up to defend the drive, the far-side baseline player cuts to the lane and sets up in the right side low block.

The Finish: The ball handler fakes a pass to the right corner and drops a bounce pass to the low block for a post-up scoring opportunity. The offside guard cuts to the basket on the weakside forcing the weakside defenders to stay at home.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Over 50 Set Plays to Attack Zone Defenses” by Winning Hoops. To check out more set plays in the Winning Hoops library, click here.


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