When you have shooters, all your troubles just melt away. Watching the U18 FIBA Championships yesterday in a match between Team Greece and Team Croatia. Greece won by 30 or more, but the score was not indicative of the talent. I would say, that both have about equal talent, but Greece did a much better job of breaking down the zone defense by Croatia with the outside shot.

There really was nothing complicated with Greece's zone offense. They run it out of a 4-out 1-in set, and overload, then reverse the ball. They got a ton of offensive rebounds (which is expected against the zone), and just shot the lights out. So simple, take a look at some clips from the second half,

Team Greece demonstrates all the fundamental you need to do to beat zones. They show that you don't necessarily need a great zone offense but as long as your players have great fundamentals, you can beat the zones with easily by:

1. Ball reversals and skip passes forcing the zone to shift and morph
2. Penetrating the gaps to force the defense to collapse
3. Running a player or 2 underneath the zone into the blind spots

Pick and Pop:

There is a misconception out there that you can't screen a zone. In fact, a lot of great plays like pick and roll or pick and pop work great against the zone. Here they use the pick and pop. Because the zone defense reacts to the ball, it's easy for the screener to move to an open spot,

Ball Reversals:

Against the zone, what I really like is to make the defense work, which in turn helps you on defense because it tires the defense out. People underestimate the conditioning aspect of a zone, but if you reverse the ball over and over, it has quite the effect for the defense which has to constantly react to the movement of the ball. Here, Greece is basically playing keep away until they get a skip pass to their dead-eye shooter Pappas who catches and shoots,


Now, if you don't have good shooters, you'll have to design your zone offense probably through the high-post. But shooters make things so much easier. I remember coaching girls one year, and we had this dead-eye shooter, nobody could zone us, we'd just kill them with the outside shot.

For more zone offense video info, check out Jim Boeheim's DVD on his Simple Zone Offense. Coach Boeheim stresses ball movement and player movement in his zone offense system. You can watch Syracuse Coach Boeheim this month as an assistant with Team USA in Beijing. Discuss your favorite zone offenses at the X's and O's Basketball Forum with other coaches from around the world.