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Basketball Offense - 3-2 Zone Offense

By James Gels, from the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook, @

The straight 3-2 zone defense is similar to the 1-2-2 zone, except that the middle defender sags into the high post area. Click here, to look at the 1-2-2 zone attack.

First, if your point guard can shoot the three-pointer, he/she should get some open shots against this zone, since the middle defender is playing off the point.

Use a two guard front and put your best shooter in the ball-side corner, running the baseline. Put your two post players along both sides of the lane, in the gaps above the low defenders but below the outside defenders (Diagram A). Attack this zone from the corners.

Let's assume the defense covers the corner by having their low defender come out. If your corner shooter hits a couple, the low post defender will have to come out to defend and then you should be able to pass into the low post or lane (Diagram B).

3-2 zone offense - attack from the corners 3-2 zone offense - attack from the corners 3-2 zone offense - attack from the corners

If the opposite low post defender comes over to help, you can dump it to your weak-side low post (Diagram C). But if he/she is being covered by the weak-side wing defender, then kick it out to O3 for the shot from the wing... either the weak-side low post or weak-side wing should be open.

Now let's look at two options for inside screens. For success, you will have to recognize how the zone covers the ball-side low block when the ball is in the corner. They can cover it by either:

(A) having the middle defender slide down from the high post area, or

(B) having the opposite low defender slide over to the ball-side block.

(A) As the ball goes into the corner, if the middle defender slides down to cover the ball-side low block, have your ball-side post screen the middle defender and seal him/her outside (Diagram D). The opposite post can now cut over for the pass inside. If the weak-side post covers this, then your post player who set the screen (O4) should have inside position (if he/she sealed correctly) and should cut to the opposite block for the pass (Diagram E).

3-2 zone offense - post movement 3-2 zone offense - post movement 3-2 zone offense - post movement

If their X3 defender is playing down, kick it out to the weak-side wing for a shot (Diagram F).

(B) As the ball goes to the corner, if the opposite low defender slides over to the cover the ball-side block, have your ball-side post player set a screen on the opposite post defender, before he/she slides over (Diagram G). You just screen that opposite post so he/she can't get there and O5 should be open for the pass and lay-up (Diagram H).

3-2 zone offense - post cross-screen 3-2 zone offense - post cross-screen

Now, let's assume the defense covers the corner by having the wing defender slide down. First of all, if the passing is crisp, your best shooter (O2) should get some open shots, as it will take time for the wing defender to get there. So look for the three-pointer from O2 as the first option.

As the ball is passed into the corner (Diagram I), O4 sets a down-screen on the low defender, and O5 cuts into the gap on the ball-side just outside the lane for the pass and shot (Diagram J).

3-2 zone offense - more options 3-2 zone offense - more options 3-2 zone offense - more options

Another option (Diagram K) is to just have O4 step out into the gap for the shot... if the O4 defender comes out to defend, pass underneath to O5 cutting to the ball-side low block. Skip passes to O3 on the opposite side will be effective also.

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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