What an impressive performance by Michigan State last night in beating number one overall Louisville. As a coach, you can look at that win and think to yourself, wow, they really executed their gameplan to a T. Now, on the other hand, I thought that Louisville stayed in their half-court zone defense too long. I know, that is their character, Pitino likes zones and matchup zones, and it would be out of character for them to go straight M2M for a large part of the game. However, I felt the zone defense played right into MSU's strategy, to play the 35 seconds out, wear out the defense, and dictate the tempo.

As for MSU's zone offense, just a tremendous job of doing all the things that you need to do to be successful against a 2-3 zone. They shot the ball well, they rebounded, took advantage of the soft spots. Goran Suton was the difference maker at that high post spot. He made shots, and really dominated, passed the ball over the top of that zone from the high post spot. Take a look,

Stretch the Defense, Make them Work:

MSU's strategy really was to stretch the defense out, use the clock, and make Louisville spend energy on defense so that they would be impatient to score on offense. And it worked. As you saw in the video clip, all defenders were scrambling going back and forth as MSU reversed the ball, over and over and over. That more than anything was the most important factor, it simply wore them out. You can't scramble that much with no reward, and come back on offense and not want to answer right away with quick shots (which Louisville did and missed),

By contrast, MSU had all the energy. It doesn't take much energy to pass the ball around from side to side. The defense is doing all the work. The offensive rebounding by MSU tells the story. After 35 seconds of the offense playing keep away, I don't think any zone defense would have the energy left to find-hit-get?


To be honest, I wasn't too surprised that MSU beat Louisville. I think even if Louisville went to a M2M, they probably would have lost, but maybe the score would have been closer. MSU, really nullified Louisville's press. I was very impressed with UNC yesterday. They've been criticized for having inconsistent half-court defense during the regular season (and rightfully so), but I think throughout the first few rounds of the tournament, they have addressed that problem. If they can maintain that consistency on defense in the final four, they're winning it all.

I can tell MSU's zone offense is all of sudden really popular with the number of people looking for Tom Izzo notes. If you want more info though, check out Tom Izzo's DVD on the 1-3-1 Zone Offense. As always, head over to the X's and O's Basketball forum to talk with other coaches about your favorite basketball topics.