You can tell things are starting to get serious with March Madness only a few weeks away. One of the most hottest teams in all of college basketball, LSU against Florida tonight in SEC action. I thought LSU had a pretty decent group of athletes last year, and they really impressed me the way they finished the year with all the turmoil of Coach Brady leaving. So it's not entirely surprising to see them do so well this year, especially since the rest of the SEC took a step backwards this year.

Florida and Coach Billy Donovan really tried to throw a wrench into things tonight. They played a three-quarter run and jump press back into a 2-3 matchup zone. I really thought LSU did a good job breaking both, by being patient and relying on their skills. Here are few sequences from the first half of LSU's zone offense,

Some very basic things that LSU did in the game. First, they hit 3-pointers, 9-for-21 for the game. The other zone offensive tactics included heavy use of pass fakes, the high post, and the behind the defense. I was also impressed how remarkably patient they were, reversing the ball side to side with plenty of guys running the baseline and flashing to the high post.

Pass Fakes:

Every zone offense needs to use pass fakes, even against a matchup zone. It gives you that extra bit of time to shift the zone or defender with the pass fake then attack the gap. I like the mini pump fake here, I see a lot of guys who take the ball over their head when they pump fake. That wastes too much time. Give a little fake, then take a big lunge, which is exactly what the LSU guard does here,

Work Behind the Defense:

Next to offensive rebounding, the next most underrated tactic is working behind the defense. All zones including matchup zones are ball-oriented, meaning they watch the ball first. Therefore it's easy to lose a player that is running the baseline. Here, the LSU player (O4) seals his defender. Instead of a straight lob pass, O5 comes up to receive the pass and goes hi-low for the easy lay in,

Use the High Post:

Probably the most obvious zone offensive tactic is to use the high-post, where the zone is soft. Everyone knows this, but I still it's worth stating and restating because if you're not a great 3-point shooting team, you're going to have to rely heavily on the high-post for shots,


I thought Florida really came out with a great gameplan tonight on the road, but LSU was up to the challenge. I've always like Trent Johnson and I enjoyed watching his Stanford teams the past few years after Mike Montgomery left. Definitely Coach Trent Johnson deserves a lot of credit for turning around LSU so quickly, but like I said, not entirely surprising given both Johnson's resume and the talent they retained. The SEC looks really weak this year, some are saying only 3 maybe less will get into the tournament. I guess we'll have to see on selection Sunday, but it's looking like LSU is going to get it's shot.

If you like Coach Trent Johnson and his LSU Tigers, then check out Trent Johnson's DVD on Half Court Quick Hitters. Be sure to head over to the X's and O's Basketball Forum to discuss this and more of your favorite basketball topics.