It was great to the college kids get back to action and boy was it a busy day. I was pretty much up at 9am PST all the way to 3pm PST watching games and taking clips before I headed for our JV game against an Australian U16 club team (we lost...). Anyways, back to the college action, there were so many great games and I took tons of clips. I only really have time here today to go through one set but I have took a ton of clips on Kansas, New Mexico, Texas Tech, Niagara, Arizona St, UAB, Kentucky, Marquette.

The Louisville vs Purdue matchup was intriguing to me as a coach on many different levels. Rick Pitino came into the game with 3 of his top players, all forwards, not playing for various reasons. What would be his gameplan?? Then there was Purdue, CBS made the point ad nauseum, the youngest starting 5 in the country, 4 freshmen and 1 sophomore. How would they come out?

Early on, it was clear what Pitino's strategy was going to be, use their 2-2-1 soft press all game and zone it up. I thought about it for a while, then it became clear. Without their top forwards, they had to zone it up to try to protect the paint. Without their top forwards, the Cardinals would need to force turnovers and score in transition. Lastly, Pitino knew the Boilermakers were young, they had blown a big lead to Missouri a few days earlier and in that game they had trouble handling the pressure.

Throughout the game, you couldn't help but admire how Purdue responded. They did have some problems with Louisville's pressure, but for the most part, the broke the press and executed. As for the zone, they exercised a high level of patience, something usually rare among freshmen, but certainly a sign of a well coached team. Matt Painter obviously has done a fine job with his young team. It was in breaking the Louisville press and beating the 2-3 zone that led to the big win.

This first video shows just a couple of the dozen times that Purdue was able to break the press,

This next video shows just 1 sequence of many in which the Boilermakers were able to find the gaps in the zone and score points, this one a 3-pointer in the third quarter,

Press Break, Reverse then Attack Middle:

On most presses (2-2-1, 1-2-2), the weakness is right in the middle. If you're team is having problems breaking the press, it's probably because your players spend too much time in the corners and trapped on the sideline. Here, Purdue reverses the ball to the inbounder who attacks the middle.

I've never been one to scheme much for press breaks. The only rules I have is to have a safety to reverse the ball to (inbounder here), and attack the middle.

Nothing too complicated that Purdue does, they reverse to the inbounder each time who attacks the middle. Sometimes he was able to go right through for a coast-to-coast layup, other times Louisville did a good job like in the diagram to cut off the penetration. In that case, one of the sideline players breaks for the ball, receives the pass, then they run the half-court offense, which is key. A lot of times, I see teams break a press, then they go into some wild sequence where they jack up a bad shot. Be patient, work the offense (next section).

Bust that 2-3 zone:

For most of the game, Purdue used a 2-1-2 set to attack the 2-3 zone. And it worked extremely well. They were patient, they moved the ball, and more importantly they cut , screened, penetrated the gaps and made shots. Zone offense takes patience, that is one of the reasons why Pitino used it the whole game, he hoped that Purdue's youth would catch up to them, that they would break the discipline, it didn't happen.

Here, Purdue does a good job of flashing to the high post to receive the pass. A lot of zone offenses I see have the offense already in formation. In opinion, you have to be moving to receive the pass otherwise the zone will anticipate the pass and pick it off.

Just a simple drive to penetrate the gap, then a quick pass (almost a handoff) to change direction, then O3 attacks the middle gap.

Since X2 and X3 get all mixed up in the gap penetration, they are out of position and the zone has morphed. O2 flares to the 3-point line free-throw extended and O3 hits him for the wide open 3-pointer.

What I loved about Purdue's zone offense was in parts of the video from before the diagrams I showed. They were moving, cutting, screening, passing. They used the whole 35 second shot clock to get the best possible shot off. That is how patient you must be against a good zone, use the whole shot clock, make the zone defend you for 35 seconds, I bet they won't. Most HS zone defenses I've observed breakdown after 10 seconds.


It was such a great day for basketball watching. I was so beat up after watching basketball all day (including our JV and Varsity games) that I couldn't take any clips of the NBA tonight.

I love dissecting games like Louisville vs. Purdue. Both teams played their hearts out, and executed well on both ends of the floor (though Louisville shot the ball terribly but it was expected without an inside presence). I love how basketball is a big chess game. Team A does this, what does Team B do? Team B changes from x to y, how will Team A respond?

For video info, check out Bill Self's DVD on the 1-3-1 press break and Mike Krzyzewski's DVD on Attacking the Zone. Both are great DVDs that should give you plenty of ideas on attacking these 2 key defensive strategies. If you want to request breakdowns of the video clips that I took today, feel free to post a message on the X's and O's of Basketball forum and I'll be happy to do so.