Kansas Zone Defense, 1-2-2

I went through some old footage the other day and took a sample of this clip from the 2006 NCAA Tournament where Bradley beat Kansas in the first round. I thought it was a good sequence in showing both how a 1-2-2 (3-2 I guess you could call it) zone looks like on tape as well as how to break it down. It's good because it shows you a couple of neat things about corner penetration, high post and cutters. Watch the video and then you can read my thoughts below.

The 3-2 zone is a pretty easy one to setup. Ideally you want your quickest players playing the 2 wing spots, your best all-around defender up top, and your two forwards playing each low block.

Defending the High Post:

Now, if you run a 1-2-2, teams will try to break you down through the high post like in this clip I posted earlier. So what you must do first of all is communicate when cutters go through the high post and deny if possible.

If the other team manages to get the ball up there, you must swarm and force the offense to kick back out to the top. You must not allow the high-post man to make a play. Kansas does a good job in the clip of collapsing and forcing back out (though the low man comes up a little high).

Defending the corner penetration:

Now, if teams reverse the ball, which well-coached teams should be doing against the zone, you need to be able to prevent the penetration of the gap.

Kansas does a good job here of doing that. The ball gets reversed, they close out and stop the penetration. They also deny the high post and the low post passes so that the only pass is back up top.

Ultimately, for Bradley, through ball-movement, and penetrating of the gaps, they do get an easy basket by getting into the lane and finding the cutter from the baseline. All zone defenses have flaws, and Bradley did a great job last year of breaking down Kansas zone.

As for the Kansas zone, I thought they played it pretty good here. They protect the paint and maintain the formation of the zone. They move to the ball well, denied the high-post and defended as best they could.

If you are looking for more information on zone defenses, take a look at Paul Hewitt's DVD on the 3-2 Point Zone. He has some nice ideas on the zone that are worth looking at. As usual, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to discuss any of your favorite basketball subjects.