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How to Beat a 2-3 Zone Defense in Basketball

By Christopher Michael

Basketball players run the floor like gazelles, bound, cut and jump their way to the hoop. The athletic feats are impressive. But the game is really won by the coaches who put their players into a position to succeed. And that means either shooting over or attacking the seams of a 2-3 zone defense when it presents itself.

Bombs Away

Put your four best shooters on the floor along with the biggest player on the team. Stick the center at the high post, roaming the free throw line area just under the top of the defense. Instruct her to put her arms up, looking for the ball. Then spread your shooters around the perimeter; one at each wing and one near each corner. Swing the ball quickly around the perimeter, coaching your shooters to fake passes to the center and drives to the basket. The ball will move faster than the defenders can keep up, especially with the fakes, and a three-point shot will open up. Hit a few threes and you'll break the zone.

Short Corner

Load up the strong side with the ball handler in the deep wing closer to the corner. Put a big man at high post on the strong-side elbow. Put another shooter on the high wing near the top of the key and a man in the short corner, just outside the strong-side baseline block underneath the defensive center and inside the wing defender. Now you have four on three. Break the zone by dumping it into the short corner. The defensive center will drop, but it might be too late, giving the short corner a layup. Otherwise, the short corner dumps it to the now-open, diving big man.

Beat it With a Zone

Set your offense up 1-3-1, with the ball handler at the top of the key. Put a center at the high post and two shooters at the wings. Place a forward with finishing capability near the hoop on the baseline. The ball swings from wing to wing with the center and bass line roamer following the swing, making a strong side. Swing quickly enough and you'll have a four on three advantage for a moment, opening up driving lanes and jump shots. Dumping it to the center will cause a defensive collapse, opening a wing three-pointer. But the base line roamer is the wild card. At some point amidst the movement, she should be able to find open space near the hoop behind the defense.

Unexpected High Post

Put your team into 1-3-1 offensive set, but place your point guard in the middle at the high post. Put your center under the hoop as the base line roamer and move your forwards to the wings. The shooting guard now handles the ball. Swing the ball around until the high post guard becomes open and hit him with a pass. He has the ability to dribble through traffic to the hoop, causing the defense to collapse. The weak side forward cuts to the hoop, the strong side forward moves to the corner for a three-pointer and the shooting guard stays open at the top of the key. The point guard now has options, including feeding the diving big man on the baseline.

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