UConn 2-3 Zone Buster

Many people like to complicate things when trying to design an attack against a zone defense. Against the most common type of zone, the 2-3 or 2-1-2, the key is to get the ball in the high post. Tonight, the UConn Huskies faced a 2-3 zone from Gardner St. and this was a key play late in the game from the Huskies that illustrates beautifully how can beat the 2-3 zone. Watch the video and then you can read my thoughts below.


Well, as I mentioned, against a 2-3 zone, you must get the ball into the high-post. Once you do that, the defense breaks down.

O4 pops up from the short corner on the overload. O5 shoots over to the ball-side block. Notice that X4 stays on the corner man, O3 because of the overload. X5 is the one that comes up to defend O4 at the high post.

Hi-lo action:

Once the ball is in the high-post, the defense must react. Depending on how the other team decides to defend you there, you will exploit them based on that. Notice that O2 has shifted over to the wing. This way, X3 must stay wide otherwise O2 has an open 3-pointer on the weak-side wing.

The hi-lo pass from O4 to O5 in the short corner results in the easy score. You'll notice in the video that X4 is the one that tries to recover all the way from the corner, of course, he's way too late.


I like UConn and Jim Calhoun's style because he runs simple sets as I posted about earlier. Against the 2-3 zone, I prefer to match formations, and keep things simple. Emphasize ball movement, penetrating the gaps and pass fakes. You can use a motion as well like a hi-low continuity, but I prefer to just setup the zone formation offense and tell my players to be patient, move the ball and find the gaps.

If you want to learn all about the UConn philosophy on zone offense, be sure to check out Jim Calhoun's Total Zone Offense DVD, it's sure to give you plenty of zone offense ideas. Head over to the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops.