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.
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.
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.
Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan is one of the game’s top visionaries when it comes to the pick & roll offense. The concept was in place when a Donovan-led Florida program won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007 and has proven to be quite effective at the high school, college, and professional levels.
Watch as Coach Donovan discusses the overall background, key concepts and important techniques to the offense, including the flat pick & roll (which offers multiple opportunities to score in a half-court setting). Plus, catch a breakdown of the offense and plays in action 5-on-5 and see what you can take away from this exclusive look with one of the game’s most respected coaches.
Some of the hardest things to guard in the game of basketball are ball screens and pick and roll action. At Florida, Coach Donovan has featured a few big guys that are quite talented and can catch and pass with the best of them. Any time that you are running pick and roll action, it’s key to have a big guy that can pass, catch and also step back and shoot three-pointers. Under this concept, the big guys need to roll to the basket or roll toward the baseline where they can hit that 15-foot jumper or create something off the dribble.
Everything done here is also based out of spacing and trying to take advantage of the way our pick & rolls are being guarded. For the offensive breakdown, Coach Donovan likes to work backwards and first runs through three main ways that the pick & rolls can be defended:
1) You’ll get a hard show or trap
2) You’ll get a switch
3) The opposition will back off or go under the screen to keep the ball out of the lane.
Once you go through a bunch of pick and rolls through the game, you’ll get a good feel for how they are being defended. Therefore, you need actions in your pick and rolls to take advantage of how the opposition is playing them.
First, we want the floor to be extremely spaced. Next, we want the wings to go down to the dead corner to start out. The screener starts off above the three-point line and angles his body with the pick. Players will then move based on when the screener moves off.
The first screen is a ball screen between the top of the key and mid-court. We will take the screener and turn him facing the opposite basket. How far he comes out is based on where and how the point guard is being defended. He’s got to give the guy with the ball one step so he can make a move. Note: This is perfect for teams who have their best player as the PG and he’s getting constantly pressured and hounded. It’s also a great way to relieve pressure so he can go off either way.
So in review, the screener comes up and makes a back screen for the point guard. Once this happens, the PG has the entire floor to work with now.
The goal here is to get two guys on the ball as much as possible. If this happens, our PG has done this job. Now, we are looking to play four against their three in this situation.
Next, there’s a drive down the lane and the option for a pitch out for the three. The guy on the baseline also must make a read. It’s his job to get open. Also, if a player gets the ball to the middle of the floor or paint area, his done his job. That’s the last place the defense wants the ball. So if your player gets in the middle, all other players must work to get open.
Meanwhile, if the ball gets to the man in the corner, there is the opportunity for an immediate post up. We can now throw the ball up top and get right back in it as well. Remember, the screen starts at the FT line. Move and get open and make the game easy for each other.
Watch players running the offense now as Coach Donovan provides some key tips along the way. Players should drive the ball down the lane right away. Someone will top you but the game is easier now that you’re in the paint. Drive the ball down the middle and then make a play.
It’s key that players don’t always pass directly into the corner on the 4-on-3. Get the ball into the middle of the paint every time. Meanwhile, off-ball players must read the play and get open.
For the screener, right when you set the screen up top, roll towards the basket and not backwards (where you’ll be a non-threat). The screener must get back into the play quickly after the screen. Also, the PG must make effective use of the screen by rubbing right off his man.
In search of some effective new plays to add to the playbook this season? With defensive techniques becoming more complex, it’s key that coaches are equipped with a variety of creative set plays they can call upon for any offensive situation. Check out the following offensive plays designed to attack man-to-man defenses. The plays have been submitted by several of the top basketball coaches in the nation, including Tubby Smith and Fran Fraschilla.
Submitted by Tubby Smith, University of Minnesota Head Coach
The Set-Up: Player 4 should be your best post-up player. Player 1 brings the ball up the floor and the rest of the team should set up in a 1-4 high set. Players 4 and 5 set up at opposite elbows, while 2 and 3 are at opposite wing areas and behind the three-point line.
The Play: Player 1 passes to 2 and 2 cuts to the ball. Players 4 and 5 criss cross in the lane and both break down to the opposite low blocks. Player 2 immediately looks to get the ball to 4 posting on the low block. Player 1 then cuts to the weakside behind the three-point line. Next, player 5 breaks up to the top of the key. Player 2 then initiates a quick ball reversal by passing to 5 at the top of the key. 5 then immediately passes the ball to 1 on the wing. Player 3 breaks toward the basket and sets a screen for 4 on the opposite low block. Player 4 then rolls off the pick and heads to the lowside block. 1 then looks to pass to 4 posting up on the block.
Submitted by Fran Fraschilla, former St. John’s Head Coach
The Set-Up: Player 1 starts out at the top of the key with the ball. Players 2 and 3 are down low on opposite blocks. Player 5 is on the left side wing area beyond the three-point line. Player 4 starts on the opposite wing area.
The Play: Player 5 sets a down screen for player 3 around the low block. Player 3 then curls off the screen and into the middle of the lane, then pops up to the opposite elbow. Player 4 moves towards player 1 as 1 dribbles to the left. Player 5 then sets a screen at the left low block and player 2 cuts baseline off 5’s screen and to the opposite corner.
Player 2 looks for a shot in the corner or 5 in the post. If it isn’t there, the offense resets as 2 passes back to 1, and 1 passes to 4 at the top. The same inside options are available like before, as 5 can set the screen on the low block for 2 as 2 cuts to the opposite low block. Player 5 then cuts off the screen and into the middle of the paint.
Submitted by Nate Webber, Nottingham HS, Hamilton, NJ
The Set-Up: Initially, look for a quick hit option for the guards off the double screen. Two guards start out on opposite low blocks. Two forwards are stacked with them just above them on the blocks. The point guard starts up top with the ball.
The Play: If there is no shot available off the double screen, the left-side guard and forward both screen across the lane for the opposite forward, who cuts around the picks and to the opposite corner. It’s his shot to take if open.
If the shot isn’t open, the forward and guard who last made the double screen now have options. The forward down low sets a screen for the guard right below him, then cuts to the middle of the paint. That guard cuts outside of the pick and to the elbow. At the elbow, the top of the key guard makes an elbow pick, while the other guard then curls around that and to the top of the key area. He should be ready for the catch and shot.
Looking for some new in-bounds plays this season to spice up your playbook? Check out these four plays used by NBA squads during the 2008-09 campaign. NBA Advanced Scout Noel Gillespie gives you exclusive access to a variety of effective in-bounds plays designed to net points – particularly for late game or late-clock scoring opportunities. First, you’ll get a diagram of each play before Gillespie walks through each one with a group of players on the basketball court. Then watch the play develop from start to finish in live 5-on-5 action.
The Set-up: The inbounder will start on the side of the court. The two big men will start out just beyond the near elbow. The two remaining players will begin on opposite low low blocks.
The Play: The far side low block player will drive hard toward the ball and then make a V-cut to the near corner. Meanwhile, the near side low block player will cut up through the lane to the top of the key as a decoy to receive the ball out of bounds there.
The Set-up: Four players will start in a box formation, with two on the elbows and two on the low blocks.
The Play: The first player on the far elbow will fake the down screen on the low block and will then go to the near corner. If he’s open, it’s his shot for a step-back three pointer. Meanwhile, the nearside low post player will screen that player’s man in the middle of the lane and free him up to get open in the near corner. The nearside elbow guy will then screen for the nearside low block player’s man in the middle of the lane. That player will then sprint to the 3-point area on the far wing. The player on the far side low block will then cut straight up to the top of the key.
The Set-up: One player will start out on the near low block, another player will begin on the near elbow, a third player will start at the top of the key, and a fourth player will begin at the far wing.
The Play: The low block guy first sets a back pick for the elbow player. That elbow player then curls around to the low block. Next, the wing player sets a pick for the top of the key player and the key player then comes off the pick and circles all the way through and into the near corner. Now that player on the low block sets another pick, this time a back pick for the guy on the elbow in front of him. The elbow guy then curls backdoor for a lob and layup attempt.
The Set-up: The ball starts under the basket. The rest of the players will start in a box formation, with two guys on the low blocks and two more on opposite elbows.
The Play: The nearside elbow player screens across for the opposite guy and then immediately down-screens for the opposite low block player. He will then fade to the corner. Meanwhile, the nearside low block guy will then screen up at the elbow for the player there and that player then flares to the near corner. These diversions will free up the player who started on the far side low block for the three-pointer at the top of the key.
The plays above can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “25 Game-Winning In-Bound Plays From the Pros” featuring Noel Gillespie. To check out more play-oriented videos, visit our extensive DVD catalog.