Sac State found the PSU zone difficult to crack in the first half. Lots of standing lots of passing, but little player movement, and for the most part their offensive design allowed PSU’s zone to stay true to its principles. Sac State also shot poorly in the first half which did not help their cause. In the first quarter, PSU’s shooting was 4-13 FG & 1-4 3FG and in the second quarter, it was not much better going 6-20 FG & 2-9 3FG. In total, the Hornets shot a combined 30% FG% and 23% 3FG. Another key stat we like to look at is how many FT’s are being shot against the zone? We say if you are shooting FT’s against the zone that is usually a good sign. In the first half, the Hornets were 2-3 67% from the FT line. This was partly due to the lack of movement in the zone and settling for too many jump shots. To attack a zone you can apply these concepts move the ball quickly (IN TRANSITION FIRST AND FOREMOST), ball reversals, cutting from behind the zone(blind spot), attack gaps off the dribble, screening, and attack the paint.
FILM BREAKDOWN OF SAC ST 2 SETS: https://youtu.be/s9ESWJrfmAc
Those are a lot of concepts to think about, but if you combine just a few of those elements, and have the right timing and rhythm it loosens a zone up and Sac St two concepts did just that for them in the second half. The Hornets implemented quick ball movement, ball reversal, cutting from behind the zone, attacking gaps off the dribble, screening, and attacking the paint all in 2 simple sets. We feel this adjustment by coach Campbell and his staff was key to the win in Portland. The pace of the game slowed down and the Hornet's second-half shooting jumped up incredibly. Third-quarter the Hornets shot 7-12 FG & 4-8 3FG and in the fourth quarter, they shot 6-12FG & 0-3 3FG for a total combined shooting percentage of 54% FG & 36% 3FG. When looking at the FT stat again the numbers jump drastically (15-21 71.4%)
The Vikings have stayed true to their brand of 2-3 zone and play it 88% of the time according to Synergy. Three other teams rely on zone defense for one way or another. They are as follows. Northern Colorado plays 54.8% zone, Sac St plays 33.4% zone and NAU plays 12.7%. This puts more pressure on a scout. You either have to prepare for it in advance because they play a considerable amount like PSU, UNC and Sac St. Sometimes a team plays just enough zone and you have to have answers for your boss in staff meetings or during the game. It can take a while to crack a zone, especially if you don’t play against them very often. The concepts listed above are proven ways on how to attack a zone.