Thursday, March 19, 2009

2-3 Zone as Your Base

Watching playoff basketball tonight I witnessed yet another team have a 2-3 zone as their backbone and come up short when they had to go man. The more basketball I watch, the more convinced I am that great high school programs have to have man to man defense as the cornerstone of their defensive philosophy. I think man to man is more flexible and a little more aggressive than most zones and can be played in all situations. Also, it seems to me that most man teams cover shooters better when they run man.

Now does that mean that you don't play any zone? Of course not! There are a lot of different situations and occurrences where zone defense is the way to go. But I think that most great programs are ones that have their base in man to man.



jwellner said...


I would disagree. I like to use Man to man more than zone because I feel it allows more ball pressure and I think the defense should make the offense feel uncomfortable with the ball. However, there are many times when you don't have the personnel to run a man defense. One situation I faced this year was that I had a 6-3 kid who was definatley one of the top 5 on my team, he can shoot, rebound pass and handle it, however he is SLOW...While I played man a lot, when it came to crunch time and he was in the game, I went to a 1-3-1 zone with him on the top. This allowed him to cover just a certain area.

Some great programs do have a base in zone (Syracuse) and I feel that zone is more flexible. You can throw different front zones, and trap in different areas and on different players. You can just chase a player or two... there are many things you can do with a zone to get a team thinking and I feel that if you can't pressure the ball to get bad decisions than the next best thing is to confuse the team which could also lead to bad descisions...

What do you think?

JohnCarrier said...

Coach Wellner,

Thanks for the response!! I appreciate the feedback and the disagreement. It's always a good thing as a coach to have my ideas and philosophies checked!

I would agree that there are certian TEAMS/YEARS that playing zone is better. I was referring to having your K-12 or 9-12 program play zone all the way through and not play any man. Because even with a zone team, at some point in your season you are going to have to go man to man so your guys had better have some idea. Also, in the season you described, I am sure that if you needed a defensive stop (or needed to stop a shooter) you would have gone man to man and just done the offense/defense sub with him.

I do think, in a high school setting, that many teams can play man if they are drilled on it through the system, however I do again agree that there are some teams that it just does not fit for. This was a great point, thanks!

I also think zone is MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE when the players have the skill, concepts, and ideas that go with man to man. To me, that is why college teams like Syracuse (which I KNEW someone would bring up) can run it. Syracuse's zone is a match up type zone so the players know and execute many man to man principles. Plus, for Coach Boeheim he can recruit players that fit the various parts of the zone. So if you have to go zone, your zone works better when the players understand the man to man concepts.

I also agree that zones are flexible. That is why at the varsity level I would employ a 2-3 and 1-3-1 trap with the man so I could do a number of different things and give a number of different looks to the opponent. I think any defese, however, is flexible in how you play it.

Again I appreciate your comment, gets me thinking. You made a lot of great points there! So in a way I would agree. My post was more toward the team that plays 2-3 the entire game all season or plays a certian trap zone all season than the one that mixes zone and man! Anyway, thoughts on my thoughts?? I love the dialouge!

John Carrier