Zone offense in the R&R is one of the greatest reasons to play using this style. The ability to use the same concepts against both man to man and zone defenses saves lots of time and gives players less to remember. Many people ask me what we run against zones defenses. We do the same thing against zones that we do against man to man defenses with one adjustment. Coach Torbett calls it “hook and look.”
Let’s quickly define “hook and look” and how it is applied. The phrase basically means that every cutter must cut into one of the six posting spots and “post up” looking for the ball. Against zones, they are not required to finish their cut to the basket. The length of time that the cutter stays in that spot depends on the alignment that the team is using. If the team is in a 5 out alignment, the cutter looks for the ball from the next 3 receivers and then finishes the cut if they don’t receive the ball. In other words the cutter waits for 2 passes. If the team is in a 4 out 1 in alignment, the cutter looks for the ball from 2 receivers and then finishes the cut if they don’t receive the ball. In other words the cutter waits for 1 pass. If a team is in a 3 out 2 in alignment, there are already two players in post spots and so no specific adjustment is necessary.
There’s a very specific reason I mention the number of receivers that the cutter should look at before finishing their cut. It helps with the timing of the offense. If we only talk about the number of passes, the tempo of the offense can be too fast. Especially when teams are used to executing the faster tempo of the man to man offense, they can often rush the offense against zones. The likely result is that open cutters are missed. Either the person with the ball doesn’t see them or the cutter doesn’t take the extra split second to realize that they are open.
This adjustment creates a constant stream of players entering and exiting the middle of any zone. The zone can is always adjusting to the player movement and ball movement that this concept creates. However, the zone offense must operate at a different pace in order to be successful. It cannot operate at the same pace as the man to man offense. It must slow down so that the zone must adjust to the cutters. If the offense moves too fast, the zone must only keep up with the ball and doesn’t have to worry about the cutters as much.
Against zones, coaches may also want to adjust the location of their post players. We are typically in a 4 out 1 in alignment with our post player starting in one of the short corners. From there, she can post up at any time. She is also encouraged to set pin screens on the weak side of the zone.
I will expound on this more with diagrams and video clips. I welcome any questions or comments that you might have. Here is one clip of us running the zone offense.