In this week’s team development feature, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo reveals some of his favorite zone quick-hitting plays. These special situation plays – perfect for quick baskets or change-of-pace looks – have been used with great success by Michigan State over the years. Coach Izzo first breaks down each play before getting players to run through them with a ghost defense and then eventually 5-on-5.
Remember, these are just quick-hitting plays. They aren’t actual zone plays run to get continuity. We start in a 1-2-2 or 1-3-1 set in our basic offense. For these plays, if we start in a 1-2-2, we can get into the 1-3-1 pretty quickly by flashing the left low player up to the foul line area.
Rule: Never have the point guard and high post player in a tandem.
The 1-3-1 Special can be done two different ways, especially if you have a good point guard shooter or a good 4-man shooter. We will enter the ball to the right-side wing. If we want the shot for our point guard, we call out “Special For Me” and the player taps his chest. The point guard will then run down to the block and post up.
The flash player will now pop out at the top of the key lane extended. The opposite wing player will now rotate up almost lane extended. Next, as the wing player with the ball is looking in down low for the PG, he will then reverse it around the key and the PG will cut baseline and into the opposite corner.
The remaining low-post player will set a screen down low for the PG (if the player fights over the pick, he should step into the middle man in the lane). The PG then receives the pass in the corner and hits the shot.
If the PG isn’t a great shooter, he should make the pass to the wing and then step away to the opposite side of the key. Now, the 4-man (or flasher) will run baseline for the corner shot.
As for the low-block screener, his job is to read the bottom guy in the zone because the zone has been shifted. If he steps out, then you must step into that middle guy. You can look to receive a pass from the guy up top, so be aware. Otherwise, we can hit the 4 in the corner, or the 4 can receive the pass and then pass it down to the low-block player for a layup.
Key: Look to get a quality shot off within 10 seconds.
Here’s another quick-hitter called 1-3-1 Double. To begin, the sleeper player starts out down low on the right block. The PG then passes to the right wing player. The PG goes through and posts up down low on the block. The player in the middle now pops out to the top of the key and the wing player with the ball dribbles down to the corner to shift the entire zone.
Next, the opposite-side wing player will now come down and set a double pick with the other low post player. The player with the ball passes back to the player up top, and then the PG down low cuts baseline and right off the double screen to the opposite wing. Finally, the top screener flashes to the top of the lane, and the low screener goes for the lob. You have three solid options here.
Note: Most zones try to get you to pass the ball around the perimeter, so if the ball gets into the middle of a zone defense, we are in business.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Tom Izzo’s Basketball Smorgasboard of Drills and Basketball Wisdom.” Check out our entire Tom Izzo/Michigan State DVD catalog by clicking here.