Scary Article on Syracuse 2-3 Zone (Grantland)

Submitted by BlueNote on April 1st, 2013 at 12:15 PM








"Everybody's talking about the 2-3 zone," Thompson said. "That's not a 2-3 zone. The 2-3 zone has been with us since the dawn of time. It's the way it slides and moves out there, like a damn amoeba.

"The only time it's a 2-3 zone is when they're waiting for you to bring the ball to it. Then, it becomes something else."

It is as old-school as it gets — the defense that every Y league team puts in when its roster gets too old, or too fat, or too lazy to play man-to-man anymore. It's the first defense besides the man-to-man that young players ever see, or that they learn to play. In the hands of Syracuse, though, especially this Syracuse team, it is like seeing something you've become accustomed to grow deadly all at once. It's like walking into your front yard and discovering your garden hose has become a Gaboon viper.



April 1st, 2013 at 1:10 PM ^

Basketball, in my opinion, is one of the few sports where defense really doesn't win championships.  Offense seems to be the driving force to championship teams, mostly.  To pull from the obvious talking heads that only point out the obvious, scoring more points than the other team usually* is more ensuring of a victory than trying to prevent the other team from scoring more points than you.

Hopefully Michigan will be practicing this week against a 6 and 7 man zone, so when they face the 5 man zone it will feel like there is much more space.





April 1st, 2013 at 1:11 PM ^

we can beat anybody. If we shoot as poorly from the 3 as Ohio State did against Wichita, beating Syracuse (or Louisville) will be a very tall order.


April 1st, 2013 at 1:28 PM ^

Watching that Louisville/Syracuse highlight package, the only thing I could think was, "Go Wichita State!" Sheesh, Siva is good, the matchup with him and Burke would be "tremendous." I hope we can put away Syracuse. But really, go Shockers.


April 1st, 2013 at 1:35 PM ^

Obviously Boeheim has been doing his "thing" well for years. I've watched them play going back to the 80's. There are a couple things which are important when facing Boeheim's zone when he has long rangy athletic players like this team does:

1) Get into the lane under control. With some teams, as soon as you break down the top of the zone, it falls apart. You can leave your feet and either have a good shot or good passing lane. Cuse is very good about recovering and still covering passing lanes.  If you penetrate and leave your feet because you see the big guys in the way, it will be a very long day. Penetrate and keep your feet and good things will open up.

2) Get used to shooting with a lanky guy closing out rapidly with a hand in your face. This sounds basic, but this is one of the "hidden" secrets of Syracuse. There is always a guy closing out on you and they come from different angles. This can throw shooters off because they are expecting a wide open look or they are used to guys closing out on them from an expected position. Guys start rushing shots, rushed shots don't go in. Long day.  In comparison, on Stauskas' 6 threes against Florida, he only had to make one adjustment. That's 5 threes basically taken in open gym conditions. Syracuse doesn't let that happen. Don't get spooked by the flying defender coming from an angle and don't let them rush your shot. If it's not there, pass it and reset it.

Do those 2 things, and I'm not saying it will be easy, but you won't give them a chance to get easy scores off turn overs. And with Syracuse, typically, it's a matter of not letting their offense get easy points. They tend to struggle in half court games (except when they have that one guy, i.e. Melo, Wallace, Moten, Owens, Coleman) I don't see one of "those" type guys on this team.


April 1st, 2013 at 3:31 PM ^

Closing out 3-point shooters with lanky guys works when you are closing out a bunch of short shooters.  Stauskas is 6-6.  Hardaway is 6-5.  Unless you are closing out on them with a 6-8 guy you better get there fast or the ball is gone. 

I'm not worried about us getting shots.  I'm just worried about us making them.  I think we've shown all year that we will get good shots.  We just have to knock them down.

eamus_caeruli (not verified)

April 1st, 2013 at 2:15 PM ^ we forget how SU got stommed by Gtown basically playing transition and hitting pop threes off that 2-3 amoeba zone.  

They are going to be a tough match-up, but with our coaches getting a whole week to prep, I feel confident.  Remember, we have five legit scoring threats on the floor, not one or two scorers, but five that SU must account for in this game.  And to be frank, with the way McGary as been agressive underneath, his put backs and re-bound second chance points, SU is not liking his development in the tourney.  Those are killers against zone defenses.  


April 1st, 2013 at 3:39 PM ^

Michigan just embarassed the #3 defense in the country, and before that, put up 87 against #13, and before that, dominated the defense with the highest forced turnover rate in the country.

I'm not exactly shaking in my cheese.

Smash Lampjaw

April 1st, 2013 at 3:54 PM ^

we increased the score delta, but to my eyes it did befuddle Trey a little bit. He could not seem to do his usual penetration. The outside sharpshooters saved the day at that point. I was happier when they came out of the zone and Michigan could play its usual and familiar offense. (You could probably prove me wrong with statistics, but is that fair?) Somehow the B1G network knows that Michigan shoots 52% against the zone. edit PS. As Boeheim talked about how you can't practice against his zone, I wondered if it would help to practice against a 7- man zone.


April 1st, 2013 at 5:26 PM ^

The Syr/Lou game video shows some of what Izzo talks about in his coaching vid. Louisville has a couple of plays where someone sneaks in behind the zone and several drive and kick plays similar to what Izzo is talking about. .What also is apparent from the game video is that the Louisville center has a nice 15 foot shot if the zone backs off him. Also the center makes lots of key passes as the offense seems to run a lot from an entry pass to the center at the high post.  I hope that our bigs will have excellent shooting touch and passing savvy next Saturday.

Haywood Jablomy

April 1st, 2013 at 8:37 PM ^

The match up . To beat the 2-3 zone:
--Have a pt. gaurd who can make good decisions(penetrate and dish, control tempo), hit the open 8-12 ft jump shot and the 3 to keep them honest .
--Takre good shots. This means not just open jumpers but shooting when there are bigs in position to get the offensive rebound.
--Make those shots
--Center who can hit a 10-12 ft jumper, dish the rock and vacuum up off. rebounds. It'd be extra if he could dribble penetrate,, sparingly, to keep em honest
--Have a combination of slashing fwds and 3 pt shooters
--Control tempo. Tempo is important because easy transition baskets are there but can also lead to TO It is important to make them work on D---pass, pass, pass.

It's almost everything we do well--when composed. Go Mother Fucking Blue, bitches.


April 1st, 2013 at 9:50 PM ^

It seems a lot of the talking heads have already penciled in a Syracuse - Louisville championship game.  It's true that Michigan hasn't faced a zone defense with the skill and players of Syracuse this year, but I also do not think Syracuse has faced a team with the offensive skill of Michigan. As others have pointed out, Michigan's defense and rebounding may very well be the most important keys to this games.  Fast break points don't happen without solid defense and rebounding.

I also think that Whichita St. can prevail over Louisville.  

steve sharik

April 2nd, 2013 at 2:57 PM ^ a team with quick guards who are good off the dribble.  They've been causing us a lot of problems with our help defense.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but that would leave me to believe 'Ville is the toughest match-up for us.  Does Syracuse have this as a strength?  When Southerland sat with 4 fouls against 'Ville, 'Cuse went away.