It's been over a week since the last Phoenix Mercury game I watched and it seems they are still resigned to running their matchup zone defense. They played the Los Angeles Sparks tonight in LA, and they Sparks absolutely picked apart the Mercury's defense. The Mercury made a few late 3-pointers in the 4th quarter to prevent the blowout, but essentially, they didn't make any required adjustments.

If the Sparks are set at any positions, it definitely is at the foward/center positions. Instead of having Candace Parker (CP3) run the point, I like the high-low zone offense here with Lisa Leslie the passer at the top of the key and CP3 finishing down low. Take a look at these 3 sequences,

High-Low Zone Offense:

There really isn't much X's and O's in the play. They position CP3 from block to block, and the Sparks reverse the ball from side to side. Once CP3 seals her defender, Leslie looks for the high-low entry.

Ball reversal, CP3 goes block to block looking to seal,

Back up top, CP3 seals the smaller Diana Taurasi,

The lob pass, easier with a tall Leslie to the tall CP3,


So, the Mercury are at 8-9 now on the season. I don't think anyone can deny now, other teams have caught on to what they do offensively, and defensively, their matchup zone is too predictable to be effective. With 3 weeks left before they head to Beijing for the Olympics, I think it's time the coaching staff think about some adjustments, especially on defense.

As for the Sparks, I think they played the way they should, half-court, use their size. I know Coach Michael Cooper blew up the other day about their lack of backcourt skill, but I think that was counter-productive. They're not going to get any significant upgrade at this point, so instead of ripping his guards down, he should be looking for ways to make them useful. A slow-down half-court game plays to their advantage.

For more zone offense video info, check out Ronnie Arrow's new DVD on High Efficiency Zone Offense. Coach Arrow stresses post touches for each possession in his zone offense system. Coach Arrow is the head coach at the University of South Alabama. Discuss your favorite zone offenses at the X's and O's Basketball Forum with other coaches from around the world.