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Basketball Offense - 1-2-2 Zone Attack

Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook,
The 1-2-2 and the 3-2 zone defenses are similar, with the exception of the position of the middle defender. In the 1-2-2, the middle defender plays out on the point, and in the straight 3-2, the middle defender sags into the high post area. Also see Zone Offense.

"Zone-2" - "Runner" Offense

Like the 3-2 zone attack, we want to attack this zone from the corner, as this puts pressure on the low defenders. We call it "zone-2" because we use a two-guard front (vs the 1-guard defensive front).

We can also use this against the 1-3-1 zone defense, or any 1-guard zone defensive front. In fact, we have also run this offense successfully against tightly packed 2-3 zone defenses. It also works well against the box and 1 defense, when O2 the is player being defended man-to-man.

See diagram A below. Set your offense in a 2-out, 2-in set with O1 and O3 flanking the X1 defender, and O4 and O5 down on the blocks, or just above. Your best shooter, O2, runs the baseline from corner to corner, always on the ball-side. If he/she can make a couple from the corner, the X4 defender will have to come out to defend (diagram B). This frees up O4 on the low block.

1-2-2 Zone Offense - zone-2, runner offense 1-2-2 Zone Offense - zone-2, runner offense 1-2-2 Zone Offense - zone-2, runner offense

If the X5 defender slides over to pick up O4, then O5 should be open for the pass from O4 and the lay-up (diagram C). Or, although not shown in the diagrams, O4 can screen the X5 defender (before he/she slides over) and this frees O5 for a cut to the ball-side low block and the lay-up.

Another pointer... the middle of the paint is open when the ball is on the top. We have our opposite low post player "flash and go back". If O1 has the ball, we want O5 to flash into the middle of the paint (diagram A) looking for the pass from O1, and the shot.

If the pass goes to O2 in the corner instead, O5 should immediately go back to the opposite block area (weakside rebounding position for O2's shot). If O3 has the ball on top, the O4 flashes to the middle, and goes back if the pass goes to the corner.

Diagram D. After O2 makes a couple shots, the outside low defender will run out early. In this situation, often O1 can make the pass directly to the ball-side low post for the lay-up. To set this up, have O1 dribble a little toward the wing, getting the X2 defender to come out... then make the pass inside to O4. O3 can do the same thing on the left side of the court, with a direct pass into O5.

1-2-2 zone offense - hi-lo pass

"45" (or "54")

We can run these simple plays from the "zone-2" offense, and these will actually work against the 2-3 zone as well. The same rules apply as above. In "45", the pass goes to O2 in the right corner. O4 screens the X5 defender and this frees O5 for a cut to the ball-side low post and the lay-up. Against a 2-3 zone (diagram C), O4 screens the middle low defender. In "54", it's all the same, except on the opposite side with the pass going into the left corner, O5 setting the inside screen and O4 cutting to the ball-side low post for the pass and lay-up.

zone offense play 45 and 54 zone offense play 45 and 54 zone offense play 45 and 54

More "Zone-2" - "Runner" options

O2 is usually our best shooter. The diagrams below show three more options to get O2 the ball. You can name these options and call them as set plays.

In diagram A below, we run the "Back" option. After running the baseline a few times, O2 will start the run and then cut back hard to original spot for the pass and shot.

In diagram B, we run the "middle cut" option. Instead of running all the way to the opposite corner, O2 cuts into the open area in the paint for the turn-around jump-shot. Notice that the low post (O4) does not flash into the paint. O2 could shoot, or dump the ball to O4 or O5 (when the low defender comes up to guard O2). If O2 does not get the pass in the middle, he/she just runs out to the corner, and you can run your normal "zone-2" offense from there.

more zone-2 offense options more zone-2 offense options more zone-2 offense options

In diagram C, we run the "Back - Skip Pass" option. The ball is passed to the opposite wing. O2 starts the baseline cut, but suddenly cuts back to his original spot. As the defense shifts, the low post (O5), instead of flashing into the paint, screens or pins the outside low defender, allowing a skip pass from the opposite wing to O2 in the corner. This is usually wide-open for a 3-point shot.

Zone-2 "Flex" option

In addition to the baseline "runner" cut, we can run a "flex" cut, similar to that used in the "Flex Offense". See the diagrams below. In diagram A, O2 has the ball and passes back out to the wing (O3), and then it is reversed to the opposite wing (O1). Instead of O5 cutting into the paint, O5 screens for O2, who makes the flex cut into the paint (diagram B).

zone-2 offense - flex option zone-2 offense - flex option zone-2 offense - flex option

Again, O2 has the option of shooting, or dumping the ball inside to O4 or O5, as the low defender rotates up on O2. If O2 does not receive the pass, he/she runs out to the corner (diagram C), and you can run your regular "zone-2" offense.

Final Comments on the Zone-2 Offense

After your runner O2 hits a couple shots from the corners, it's amazing how the defense gets caught up in watching the runner. The middle flash cut and pass to O4 or O5 (diagram A at the top), or the direct pass from the wing (O1 or O3) into the low post (diagram D above) become open for easy baskets.

This offense is very effective against the 1-2-2 and 1-3-1 zones, and also against a tightly packed 2-3 zone. Using this offense against the 2-3 zone will stretch the zone, as the low defender has to come outside to defend the corner. We will often slide a post player up to the ball-side elbow or high post.

Attacking the 1-2-2 zone with the 4-Out Offense

Either a 4-out, 1-in motion offense (using the "high" set) or the 4-out zone offense would work very well. Take a look at the diagram below.

With this offense, you split the X1 defender with a two guard front. Start with your inside player (O5) at the high post. O3 and O4 cause problems for their wing defenders, especially as they stretch the defense toward the corners. This may cause the low post defenders to come out to defend. Then O5 cuts down the lane, or to the low block for the pass and shot.

attacking the 1-2-2 zone with a 4-out motion offense

Look at the spacing... O3 and O4 are in excellent position to attack the short corner gaps in the zone. If O3 dribble penetrates the short corner, and the X5 defender comes over to stop him, there is a good chance for a dish off to your O5 cutting down the lane.

With this offense, O5 is already in good position between defenders at the high-post and causes problems when he slides down to the ball-side block. And O1 and O2 are also in a position to attack the outside gaps.

Attacking the 1-2-2 zone with a 1-3-1 set

In this case, O1 passes to the wing and cuts under the wing defender into the corner. At the same time, the high post dives to the ball-side low block. This puts a lot of stress on the wing defender and the down defender.

1 passes to 2 and then cuts to the right corner. O2 passes back to O1. O4 cuts down to the block. O1, O2, and O4 have a 3 on 2 situation with the defenders, if the passing is crisp.

attacking the 1-2-2 zone defense with a 1-3-1 set

Options: After O4 goes to the block, O5 can flash to the ball-side elbow, and O3 can cut back-door to the weak-side block.

See this clip with Coach Bob Knight:

Related pages:

Helpful DVD's:

Bob Knight: Encyclopedia of Zone Offense

Bob Knight: Encyclopedia of Zone Offense
with Bob Knight, former head coach at Texas Tech and Indiana University; Over 900 career wins, 3X National Championship Coach, Five Final 4 appearances; 4X National Coach of the Year;1984 US Men's Olympic Coach (Gold Medal)

Bob Knight opens his championship playbook and shows you how to beat zone defenses. Using the same concepts he used to amass over 900 career wins and three national titles, Knight doesn't just coach his zone offense, he teaches it.

In this on-court clinic presentation, Coach Knight teaches you everything you need to know about playing against a zone defense.... (more info)

Price: $119.99
Buy Now

Defeating the 1-3-1 Zone Defense

Running & Defeating the 1-3-1 Zone Defense - Bob Huggins and Dave Odom
with Bob Huggins, West Virginia University Head Coach, Over 600 career wins,former University of Cincinnati Head Coach, '00-'01 National Coach of the Year, Conference USA "Coach of the Decade" (Cincinnati) th College Coach of the Year (2010), 856 Career wins, 15x NCAA Sweet Sixteen Appearances
and Dave Odom, former Head Coach at the University of South Carolina and Wake Forest; 406 Career wins, 9x NCAA Tournament Appearances, 3x ACC Coach of the Year
In this combination DVD Coaches Bob Huggins and Dave Odom give you a detailed insight to teaching and attacking the 1-3-1-zone defense... (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now

Coach Izzo teaches his 1-3-1 set for attacking zone defenses

Tom Izzo: The 1-3-1 Zone Offense
with Tom Izzo, Michigan State University Men's Basketball Head Coach, 2000 NCAA Champs, 3X National "Coach of the Year"
Get an insider's view into the Michigan State playbook with this fantastic DVD instructed by Coach Tom Izzo. These set plays have led Tom Izzo and his program to one NCAA National Championship title, four Final Fours, and eight NCAA appearances in his ten years as a Division I head coach. Coach Izzo has won 77% of his games utilizing these set plays. This video will demonstrate ways to take advantage of any type of zone defense... (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now

Coach Self teaches how to attack zone defenses

Bill Self: "Basic" and "Motion" 3-Out 2-In Zone Offenses
with Bill Self, University of Kansas Head Coach; 2008 NCAA Champions
Bill Self focuses on seven principles for effective zone offense and teaches you the Jayhawks' "basic" and "motion" 3-Out 2-In Zone Offense. He walks you through the necessary techniques of both the perimeter and post players such as quick ball movement, skip passing, lob passing, utilizing the short corner and using high/low motion. Self also demonstrates drills that any coach at any level can use to enhance the continuity in the zone offense. He discusses responsibilities and reads and demonstrates the cuts, screens and movement for every position. As a bonus, Self also includes a handful of quick-hitter plays and out-of-bounds baseline plays... (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now

Coach Boeheim teaches zone offense

Jim Boeheim's Complete Guide to Zone Offense
with Jim Boeheim, Head Coach, Syracuse University, 2003 NCAA Champions!!
Coach Boeheim, one of the most respected minds on the zone and match-up zone defense, now shares on video, for the first time ever, his views on how to take advantage of any zone defense. Coach Boeheim's zone offensive principles are simple: ball movement, man movement, and patience. He uses each of these principles in teaching a zone offense which can be run against a 2-3, 3-2, 1-3-1, and match-up zone (odd or even fronts). He combines chalkboard instruction with on-court demonstration and game clips. In addition, he covers the techniques necessary to effectively attack any zone with these offenses that include... (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now

Coach K teaches how to attack zone defenses

Mike Krzyzewski: Duke Basketball Attacking the Zone
with Mike Krzyzewski "Coach K", Duke University Head Men's Basketball Coach; NABC "Coach of the Decade," 12X NABC "Coach of the Year," Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2001), 5X NCAA National Championships
In an energetic and information-packed on-court presentation, Coach Krzyzewski explains the zone offense and principles he uses in attacking a half-court zone defense. Krzyzewski believes the secret to effective zone offense is to keep it simple by running one highly effective offense that can be utilized against even the most potent defenses. Coach Krzyzewski has designed a zone offense that is easy to implement and impossible to stop! In addition, Coach K shares the five major components... (more info)

Price: $44.99
Buy Now

Geno Auriemma: The Simplified Zone Offense

Geno Auriemma: The Simplified Zone Offense
Head Women's Coach UConn, 2015 NCAA Championship Coach; 10x NCAA Women's Basketball National Championships; 8X National "Coach of the Year"
In an exciting on-court presentation, Coach Auriemma teaches simple strategies for beating a zone defense that are easy to implement and impossible to stop! Auriemma provides drills, strategies and player positioning to help your perimeter and post players beat the zone. He demonstrates a 3-2 Zone Offense and a 1-3-1 Zone Offense that include similar principles, but will confuse your opponents. In addition, Coach Auriemma also gives you eight quick-hitter zone plays... (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now

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