What a day of upsets and close games. BC stunning UNC at Chapel Hill, Oregon State beating USC, Louisville and Kentucky going to the last shot. And Cal upsetting 17th ranked Arizona State. I've watched a few Cal games so far this year, the latest was in their own tournament against Dartmouth. Tonight, the Cal Bears really impressed me with their offense. One thing is for certain, Mike Montgomery is one heckuva coach and has the Cal Bears playing some great ball right now.

First off, they took advantage of some poor shot selection by the ASU Sun Devils to score in transition. In the half court, they ran a great zone offense against the ASU 3-2 matchup zone that got great looks inside and didn't settle for too many 3-pointers. A lot of baseline cuts, and screen and seals. Here are few sequences from throughout the game,

Baseline Zone Offense:

For the Cal Bears, their zone offense is all about the underneath. Because defenders in a zone offense are ball-oriented, running players behind and running screen and seal is a great way to get high percentage shots, as the defense simply cannot keep track of players underneath. All the Bears do is in a 4-out 1-in set, they reverse the ball and the 1-in on the ball side comes out to the corner, the weakside forward then sneaks in from the weakside corner to the weakside block,

They repeat from side to side, with one of the wings cutting baseline once in a while to switch up the positioning. In the video, you'll see the players constantly looking for that baseline cutter underneath.

Screen and Seal:

When the wing cuts through the baseline as the ball is reversed, the strong side forward sets a backscreen, then seals the defender. The ball can now go to the corner for the 3-pointer, or even better, to the forward who has just sealed the defender for the lob,

In the clip, you see that the defender actually gets caught between trying to cover both O3 and O5.

Dribble Penetration

Dribble penetration works great against the zone if you have quick enough guards. Beat the first defender, penetrate the gaps, then look for the forward underneath,


Arizona State is a tremendously talented team. But watching them tonight, I thought their offense was too one-dimensional, too much 1v1 play and one and done shots. I was also surprised that ASU went zone the entire game since Cal was doing so well breaking it. I haven't watched that many ASU games so maybe it was just one game. As for Cal, I watched Mike Montgomery when he was at Stanford and loved the way his teams played. When he signed on to be the head coach at Cal earlier last year, not many people noticed, but it looks like he has Cal moving in the right direction. I would not be surprised to see them ranked by the end of the year.

If you like Coach Montgomery like I do, then check out Mike Montgomery's DVD on his 5 Man Motion and Stack Offense. Be sure to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to discuss this and more of your favorite basketball topics.