I can across some notes the other day that outlined the rules for a matchup zone defense, they were created I believe by a high school coach and posted on the X's and O's forum. It can be run out of any formation (1-3-1, 2-3, 3-2, 1-2-2, etc...) and in my opinion, is probably easy enough to implement for any M2M or zone team. The idea of the matchup zone is play as much zone, but by covering a man at the same time. So without further delay, here they are:

P = point
L = takes first player to the left of P
R = takes first player to the right of P
M = matcher, takes any player right R or left of L on lowside
C = center, M2M in the paint on high side

Defining who guards who depends on who P guards. The matchup is framed around P and everyone else falls in line. Obviously, this matchup is easier with odd man fronts (1-3-1, 1-2-2) because the P is always up top. But it works with a 2-3 as well, depending on which side the offense usually brings the ball up on (right-hand, left-hand), P will play the appropriate side. The P does not have to matchup on the ball either.

Basic Switches:

As you've probably gathered, this matchup zone is based on the idea of constant switching, through the concept of bumping defenders. On all screens, cuts, and cut and replace, the defenders communicate and bump each other to maintain the formation. So, unlike a straight zone, each defender has a man to cover, but also a general area. As players without the ball move, the defenders move as well (all while also watching the ball), when you check moves outside of your area, you must bump him to your fellow defenders. Communication is key, you must communicate or the defense breaks down. Screens and cuts work the same way. There are 2 basic switches, on the perimeter and in the paint.

On the perimeter, any screen or cut is played the same way, with the ball and without. You move with your check until you reach another defenders area, then bump your check to the other defender. You wait until the other defender calls release before finalizing the switch.

In the paint, C is M2M and covers mostly the high side. M is on the low block running the baseline covering any right or left of R and L respectively. If the offense lines up with 2 high posts,

The M should get anyone going low. If the posts run an X cut, C and M call your basic switch each time with C taking the high, M taking the low.

Weakside Wing to Strongside Corner:

OK, so now that we have the basic screens/cuts figured out, time to go over the more complicated ones. The weakside wing cutting into the middle looking for a quick hit, then cutting to the corner. L is on helpside defense. M is strongside post. As O3 cuts, L follows to the middle of the post. L must communicate the switch, and M looks to switch and yells release for L to cover O5 in the post,

As the offense overloads, the defense reacts to the cuts, and each defender is once again matched up with a offensive player. M must take anyone on the baseline left or right, so obviously M must be very athletic. C stays with O4 whereever O4 goes, except if O4 goes to the low post, then C and L would quick switch,

Point Loop Cut to Strongside Corner:

A very common cut in zone offenses is the point loop cut. Slightly tricky here, but again, with good communication, it should work seamlessly. O1 passes to the wing, and cuts straight down the middle. P follows O1 into the paint. At this point, O1 approaches L's area so L drops down to replace P. L follows O1 through as O1 exits the paint. At this point, L calls switch and M takes O1 to the corner yelling 'release' for L to take O5,

So, you are back in almost the same as the weak to corner cut above. P has moved into helpside now checking O3. If O3 moves up to the point, P follows him up to the point,

Strongside Wing to Weakside Wing:

The last cut is the hardest one to cover because of the amount of off-ball movement. O2 cuts across the lane to opposite lane with the perimeter players cutting to fill. O2 passes to O4 in the corner and basket cuts. L follows into the lane but R drops down to cover as well and replace L. As O1 and O3 move, P moves with O1,

R calls 'release' and takes O2 to the weakside wing. L must sprint back to the strong side wing, taking O1 this time. Bumping P back to the top to take O3. All the while, if O5 drops down to the strongside post, O5 follows,

Final Thoughts:

Teams that scout you may resort to offenses that use a lot of cutting, like an X-zone offense. If your players get crossed up, you can always use a in-game call like base to go straight M2M or straight zone. Additionally, players should always be instructed to protect the paint first, then look to pickup their check afterwards if they get lost momentarily.

Because the matchup zone is relying on the basic relativity of players which doesn't change, you don't want to get too rigid on the roles. You adjust the matchup depending on your opponent, deciding how much help to give on the paint, which shooters you must close out on, etc.. The more zone look you show the better, because you are really playing M2M.

For more interesting perspectives on zone defenses from a M2M defensive-minded coach, take a look at Tubby Smith's DVD on Utilizing Zones. Coach Smith is currently the head coach at Minnesota.