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Two-Three Zone

What to Discover or Recall . . .

The 2-3 zone is the most commonly used zone defense.
Since its 2-3 alignment allows teams to keep their big players inside, it is very strong in protecting the basket area and against dribble penetration.
The 2-3 zone is also effective against poor outside shooting teams. However, on the other hand, the 2-3 zone is very vulnerable to good outside shooting teams.

2-3 Zone Defense

| Basic Shifts | Adjustments | 1-1-3 Variation | Trap Options | vs "Footer" |

Because of its packed-in alignment, the 2-3 zone is the most common choice of defense to use when teams are at a disadvantage when it comes to quickness, athleticism and skill. However, with quick and agile players, the 2-3 zone can become a very aggressive, trapping defense. It is also an excellent defense to use to defend against talented or big low post players.

In the 2-3 Zone the point the defensive guards play side by side above the free throw line. The post maintains a position in front of the basket always staying between the ball and the basket. The other two baseline players are positioned just out side the three second area above the "blocks." All defenders must be active keeping the arms and hands extended and shifting while the ball is in the air on all passes.

Basic 2-3 Zone Shifts

Baseline Corner

Home - Ball in the Middle

Defender X1 is on ball and X2 is at the elbow. Defenders X3, X4, and X5 are above the block with X5 in front of the basket and X3 & X4 are positioned outside the three second area on the baseline.

Left Wing

Ball on Left Wing

Defender X2 is on ball, X1 moves to ballside elbow, X4 moves out towards the corner, X5 maintains a position between ball and basket, and X3 establishes a weakside rebounding position.

Home

Ball in Left Corner

X4 on ball, X5 covers low post area, X3maintains a strong weakside rebounding position on baseline, X2 cuts off pass out of corner and X1 defends the high post area.

Right Wing

Ball on Right Wing

Defender X1 is on ball, X2 moves across to the elbow protecting the high post area. X3 steps out towards the corner, X5 maintains a position between ball and basket, and X4 assumes a weakside rebounding position.

Right Corner

Ball in Right Corner

Defender X3 is on ball, X5 covers low post area, X4 maintains a strong weakside rebounding position, X1 cuts off pass out of corner and X2 defends the high post area.

Ball in the Middle

Ball In the Middle

When the ball is passed into the middle, defender X5 steps up jams the ballhandler forcing them toward a corner pushpoint. Outside defenders X1 and X2 collapse on to O5, while baseline defenders X4 & X5 collapse to the blocks protecting the basket area against "High/Low" post pass action.

 


 

Baseline Corner
Ball in Corner
X2 denies return pass or sags to post and X1 covers "Elbow" area

Outside Shifts

Strong Pass Denial
Ball in Corner
X1 denies return pass or sags to post and X2 covers "Elbow" area

Baseline Corner
Ball on Wing
X2 on ball and X1 covers "Elbow" area

Strong Pass Denial
Ball Out Front
X1 or X2 takes ball forcing ball away from chaser's side

Strong Pass Denial
Ball on Wing
X1 on ball and X2 covers "Elbow" area

Since the two outside defenders must move in unison and cover sideline to sideline. As a result, these two defenders are normally a team's quickest players.

 


 

Baseline Corner
Ball in Corner
X5 3/4 denies post on baseline side

Post Shifts

Strong Pass Denial
Ball in Corner
X5 3/4 denies post on baseline side

Baseline Corner
Ball on Wing
X5 fonts low post area

Strong Pass Denial
Ball Out Front
X5 assumes a position in front of the basket

Strong Pass Denial
Ball on Wing
X5 fonts low post area

The post is responsible for guarding the low post area maintianing a defensive position between the ball and the basket. This role is usually given to a team's biggest player. However, an aggressive, athletic player can be very effective at times especially against a good post player.

 


 

Baseline Corner
Ball in Corner
X4 on ball and X3 assumes a weakside rebounding position

Base Shifts

Strong Pass Denial
Ball in Corner
X3 on ball and X4 maintains a strong weakside rebounding position

Baseline Corner
Ball on Wing
X4 moves out toward corner and X3 assumes a weakside rebounding positon

Strong Pass Denial
Ball Out Front
X3 and X4 assume positions outside the three second area above the blocks

Strong Pass Denial
Ball on Wing
X3 moves out toward corner and X4 assumes a weakside rebounding positon

In the 2-3 Zone, the two outside baseline players work opposite. Since one assumes a weakside rebounding position at all times, they should be highly skill defensive rebounders.


 

Five Stars

2-3 Wing Adjustments & Variations

Wing Corner Shift Options

When the ball is passed to the corner, the wing defender has the option of staying out or dropping down to help the low post defender. Although, staying out is a provides for a much more aggressive zone, the option to stay or drop is a coach's decision.

Wing Stay

Option 1: When the ball is passed into the corner, the wing defender assumes a pass denial position. This will lead to an interception on any return pass or force a long skip pass which X1 has the opportunity to intercept.

Wing Drop

Option 2: On the pass to the corner, the wing defender drops and helps out on the post. This option can be used against a dominate offensive post.

Defending Against Ball Reversal

In every type of zone there are some shifts that are difficult. In the 2-3 zone it is the reversal or skip pass to the opposite wing.

Baseline Corner

Reversal Pass to Left Wing: On the reversal pass to the wing, the baseline defender X4 steps out and temporarily guards the ball handler ("Shows") until the defensive guard X2 can move over and assume an on ball position.

Baseline Corner

Reversal Pass to Right Wing: On the reversal pass to the wing, the baseline defender X3 steps out and temporarily guards the ball handler ("Shows") until the defensive guard X1 can move over and assume the on ball position.

 

Five Stars

1-1-3 Variation

Ball in the Middle Shift Options

Wing Stay

When the ball advanced into the middle of the court between the outside defenders, their is a delima of who should guard the ballhandler.

Wing Drop

However, any indecision can be eliminated by analyzing the opponent wing shooters. The outside defender on the opposite side of the best shooter should matchup on the ballhandler and the guard closet to the shooter should move out into the passing lane to the shooter.

Tandem Option

The outside defenders can assume a tandem alignment. This alignment keeps X1 matched up against the opponent point guard. The wing defender, X2, playing behind X1 is responsible for guarding the first pass to the wing.

Baseline Corner

The tandem alignment allows the point defender, X1, to extended further out on the court. This alignment will force the offensive point into make an early entry pass to wing. It also disrupts the offensive spacing by forcing the offensive wings to step out further out away from the basket to receive the entry pass. The point defender X1 can dictate offensive direction by pushing the ballhandler toward a specific sideline pushpoint, usually the sideline away from the opponent's best wing shooter.

Five Stars

Advanced Trap Options

Corner Trap Option

When the ball is passed into the corner, the 2-3 zone can readily trap the ball handler. If the opponents are not prepared, this corner trap can be divestating.

Baseline Corner

On the pass to the corner, the wing defender X1 follows the pass and traps the ball handler with X3.

Baseline Corner

X2 moves out and cuts off the return pass to wing O2 and X4 steps up to defend the high post area.

Point Trap Options

A surprise trap on the point guard, when timed and excuted perfectly can catch the opponents totally off guard. This point trap is usually executed after a made free throw or time out when the opponent has ball position in the back court.

Wing Stay

Outside defenders, X1 & X2, step out simiutaneouly and trap the ballhandler O1. Post X5 steps up and denies any pass into the high post area while X3 & X4 move out denying any wing passes.

Automatic Wing Trap

When faced with defending an outstanding wing shooter, the ball should be influence to the opposite wing.

Baseline Corner

Defender X1 steps out and pushes the ball handler O1 towards sideline away from the star player. Baseline defender X3, steps out into the passing lane to the star player while X2 allows the pass to the wing on the opposite side of the court. Once the pass is made to the opposite wing, whenever possible, defender X1 denies any return pass to the point.

Baseline Corner

On the reversal pass to the point, X1 immediately steps out and tries to force the ball handler back to the same side while X3 steps out into the passing lane to the star player. X2 sags off inviting a return pass to the wing.

Wing Stay

If a pass is made to the star player on the wing, X1 and X3 immediately trap. X2 denies a return pass to O1 and X5 steps up and denies any pass into the high post. X4 anticipates and defends against a cross court pass to either O5 or O3.

 

Five Stars

Defending Against the "Footer"

An outstanding low post or a very tall player can be a real problem for the defense. With its inside strength, the 2-3 zone becomes a viable defense to stop or limit the effectiveness of a good or tall post player. However, some simple adjustments are required in order to create double and triple teams on the low post player.

Home - Middle

Home - Ball in the Middle

When the ball is out front, defender X5 assumes a 3/4 pass denial positon on big O5. X4 sags in providing back side support while X3 cheats into the three second area to compensate for X5 assuming a pass denial position on O5. X1 should apply ball pressure on passer.

Left Wing

Ball on Left Wing

Defender X2 pressures the passer. X5 fonts the post while X3 provides backside support taking away the lob pass. X4 also tries to cheat in providing baseline support. X3, X4, and X5 triple team any time O5 does receive a pass.

Left Corner

Ball in Left Corner

X4 pressures the passer, X5 assumes a baseline 3/4 pass denial position on O5. X3 provides backside support while X2 sags off and provides topside support on O5. Defenders X2, X3, and X5 triple team any time O5 receives a pass.

Right Wing

Ball on Right Wing

X1 pressures the passer. X5 fonts the post while X4 provides strong backside support taking away the lob pass. X3 also tries to cheat in providing baseline support. X3, X4, and X5 triple team any time O5 receives the ball.

Right Corner

Ball in Right Corner

X3 pressures the passer, X5 assumes a baseline 3/4 pass denial position on O5. X4 provides backside support while X1 sags off and provides topside support on O5. Defenders X1, X4, and X5 triple team any time O5 receives a pass.

 

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