There was a thread going on a coaching forum about zone defenses. It was interesting, one coach made the point that playing zone defenses early in the season was a way to catch teams off guard. I'm usually not a huge fan of zone defenses, but after watching some early college games so far, I think that argument has some merit.

These are some clips from Georgetown's narrow win over Wichita State earlier in the day. I don't think Georgetown did anything schematically or positionally that was problematic. It was just a lot of poor execution, the ball not moving with much purpose, making sloppy plays, and settling for 3-pointers by Georgetown. But I also like the idea of extending out the zone from a soft press by Wichita State. Take a look,

Extended 2-3 Zone:

You could run it as a matchup, but WSU uses it more like a true 2-3 zone but extended out all the way full court. I watched Florida do this a lot last year and I saw them do a little of it this year against Washington. It's soft pressure, so you're not trapping, but definitely pressuring the ball with the 2 front defenders,

After the defense crosses half-court, the top 2 defenders drop back to their zone positions. The back 3 also drop back to form the backline of the zone,


The zone was definitely a factor in both the low final score, 58-50 and the 17 total turnovers by Georgetown in the game. It really disrupted their rhythm and had to rely on a 27 free throw attempts to gain the advantage to win the game. Credit to WSU though, they stayed within 8 points of a top 25 team despite shooting an abysmal 27% from the field.

For an interesting perspective 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. To discuss this and many more of your favorite basketball topics, head over to the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk with other coaches from around the world.