When basketball teams present you with complicated situations, the best way to respond is by keeping things simple. An opponent played a true matchup zone against us. These defenses can give teams problems to offenses. It can be difficult to play against a match-up zone because players aren’t used to playing against it. Zone offenses tend to be less effective because the defenders aren’t assigned to a certain area.
Man-to-man offenses tend to not work as well against match-up zones because defenders aren’t assigned to certain players either. In addition, match-up zones can cover up a team’s defensive liabilities without playing a true zone defense.
Here is a simple set of actions that we used for a few consecutive possessions in the second half which helped us create a number of good scoring opportunities. Of course, players had to make plays, but as coaches, we have to put them in a position to do so.
We drew up the first three frames in a time-out. Look how simple this is.
The lesson learned here is that sometimes simple is better. The trick is not the complication of the action. The trick is putting players in places where they can be successful while creating ball movement and player movement with good spacing. These actions were created based specifically on the skills of the personnel on the floor.
There are a few interesting things to notice. The alignment changes in a very simple way from 4 out to 3 out with an even front. Notice how the defense defends the same action differently all three times. The tandem alignment is designed to take away the middle of the floor. By starting in a 4 out alignment, it brings out the middle person of the tandem. This along with the denial of the low post player opens up the high post and causes the defense problems. The entry to the high post causes confusion. Now it just takes one attack dribble to hold the low wing defender to create the open 3 point shot.
In the second clip, the person in the middle of the zone is worried about that weak-side post player. She remembers in the previous possession how that player flashed to the high post and compromised their defense. That little bit of attention draws her away from the cutting post player. A good post entry and a good individual play led to a layup. Notice also in this clip how the weak-side post player could have sealed the backside defensive player to prevent their rotation to help. It worked out anyway, but posting on the weakside can be a huge benefit to the team even if they don’t receive the ball.
This is just a tough individual play. But notice after scoring the first time how the defense reacts. They decide to double team that player which obviously opens up other players who react well to the openings it creates.
After this, they started fouling and we didn’t run the action again. We didn’t have to. It’s amazing how such simple actions can lead to productive offense.