If you are a Team USA fan, you would have to be a little concerned after the game against Team Russia the other night. Sure, they won by 20+, but at times the score was much closer. Of most concern was when the game slowed down to the half court and the Russians went to their matchup zone was when Team USA showed some deficiencies. Ultimately, Team USA was bailed out by some bad turnovers and shot selection by Team Russia that led to a few easy baskets.

There really wasn't anything too special about Russia's matchup zone. Coach David Blatt has been running a matchup for a long time now so it should be no surprise. Another big plus for the Russians was the way they got back on defense. On every offensive possession, their PG would hustle back and they usually had 2-3 defenders back before Team USA could break out, check it out,

2-3 Matchup Zone:

Some notes I've read from Team Russia's coach David Blatt showed his 1-1-3 matchup, but against Team USA, they used a 2-3 matchup zone mostly. Really what they were doing was put ball pressure and everyone else played the ball. They allowed penetration but always had help side defense. They did end up fouling a lot but it did slow Team USA down quite a bit,
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I thought that Team USA tried to beat the zone with alot of 1v1, driving into help and getting into trouble either with the offensive charge or trying to pass while in the air. They just didn't look coordinated in their zone attack. The best combination of players out there that I thought played the best against the zone were Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer and Lebron James. I think Dwill and Boozer are used to playing that random cutting style in Utah that made them more capable to adjusting to this kind of game. Lebron is just brute force, if he's driving to the basket, nothing will stop him, not even 5 guys zoned up. Kobe scored a lot of points, but many were off of bad Russian turnovers.


Team USA plays Team Australia tonight, which I don't anticipate will be anywhere as close as the Russia game. Australia has height and size but USA is better in every aspect including size. I agree with Coach Fran Fraschilla on the broadcast who said you beat Team USA by playing half-court, and that when we get to the elimination round, there are going to be some close games where Team USA will have to grind out a win, we'll see if they can do that.

For more matchup zone video info, check out Bill Fennelly's DVD on the 2-3 Matchup Zone. Coach is the head coach of Iowa State's womens basketball team. Discuss this and the rest of your favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.