I tried to watch as many college basketball games as possible on this busy Saturday before Christmas. Of course, there was a couple of bowl games on as well so there was a lot of flipping going on. Anyways, I watched most of the Michigan and UCLA game, mostly because I'm a big fan of both Ben Howland and John Beilein. Coach Howland may have got the win, but coach Beilein won a lot of believers in his first chance on national network TV. Michigan had been blown out by some ranked teams, Duke, Georgetown, Southern Illinois and a lot of people were starting to wonder whether coach Beilein was the right man at UM, I think his players helped answer that question today. The Wolverines used their 1-3-1 half-court trap to confuse the heck out of UCLA and got them totally out of whack. Watch the video and read my thoughts below,

Trap Middle:

Coach Beilein uses a variety of traps and sets. The most common one is the middle trap. On all 1-3-1 sets, the sideline players, X2 and X3, must come up and put pressure up top. Then the zone shifts, and they get ready to trap. You usually think of the 4 corners as places to trap, but in the 1-3-1, one of the most ideal places to trap is the elbow where middle X4 is, all 3 defenders can converge on that point easily and force a turnover, as seen in the video.

Again, the key is for X2 or X3, depending on what side the ball is on, to put pressure and force the ball to be passed either to the other sideline or to the wing.

Like the packline, you encourage penetration, especially right into the elbow area, where all 3 defenders can collapse easily and trap and force the turnover.

1-3-1 into 2-3:

One of the most effective transitions that Michigan used in the game was to fall back into basically a 2-1-2 or 2-3 zone once the ball was entered below the free-throw line extended.

Same idea as above, you must force the dribbler up top to either pass sideline to sideline or down to the wing using X2 and X3 putting pressure up top. Once the pass is made and the offense attempts to penetrate you must stop/trap them and force the pass out, in this case UCLA lobs it to the wing-corner.

Once the ball is entered below the free-throw line extended, Michigan would flatten into basically a 2-3 zone look. In the video sequence, UCLA would shoot the 3-pointer and miss. It confused the heck out of UCLA, they seemed disoriented throughout most of the game, until around the 10 minute mark of the second half when UCLA started to break the game open.


The pattern that coach Beilein used looked to be 1-3-1 zone defense after all makes and inbounds. Off of rebounds and turnovers, they were in M2M. The constant switching and various traps and schemes seemed to really throw off UCLA, who isn't known for their offense.

As posted previously, coach Beilein doesn't have a DVD with his 1-3-1, but you can get Seth Greenberg's DVD who outlines his 1-3-1 zone defense. Happy holidays, and be sure to head over to the X's and O's Basketball Forum to discuss this and more of your favorite basketball topics.