1-4 High Zone forces defenders to make tough decisions
By Mike Ely, Head Basketball Coach, Charlottesville Lady Cavaliers AAU, Charlottesville, Virginia
This is a simple, but highly effective zone offense run out of a 1-4 high set. The main objective is to force the back-line zone defenders to make some tough decisions about their responsibilities.
Through good floor spacing, smart passing, quick cuts, solid screens and continuous ball movement, your offense should be able to find some holes in the zone and get a look at high-percentage scoring opportunities.
DIAGRAM 1: Our point guard, 1, initiates the offense by dribbling the ball to the right side. The off-side defensive guard will follow the ball slightly and move toward the middle of the floor as the ball is dribbled to the right. As the off-side defensive guard slides to the middle, 4 sets a backscreen on him or her. 1 watches for this backscreen and passes to 3.
DIAGRAM 2: As the pass goes from 1 to 3, 4 pivots to face the ball, turning in the direction that the defensive guard is trying to fight over. This move slows the guard’s recovery even more. All this is done as a decoy to lure the defensive forward to cover 3.
DIAGRAM 3: Since the defensive guard can’t recover and defend 3 due to the backscreen set by 4, the ball-side defensive forward needs to make a decision. If the ball-side defensive forward stays in, then 3 has a wide-open jumper. As 3 receives the pass, 5 breaks from the weak-side elbow toward the basket, flowing to the ball-side short corner.
DIAGRAM 4: If the ball-side defensive forward moves out to cover 3, then 5, who moved to the ball-side short corner, will be left wide open and 3 must pass to 5. For us, the short corner is 4 to 5 feet off the lane. While this action is occurring on the ball side, 1 and 2 find the gaps in the zone, looking for a possible pass from 3.
We always tell any player who is a potential receiver of a pass to pretend that the ball is a camera. You must move yourself into a position where the camera can see you clearly to take your picture.
DIAGRAM 5: After 3 has passed the ball to 5 (as the defensive forward slid out to cover 3), it now places the defensive center in a very awkward situation. If the defensive center doesn’t slide over to cover 5, then 5 has an open 4-foot jump shot.
DIAGRAM 6: If the defensive center moves out to cover 5, instruct 4 to dive hard to the basket looking for a pass from 5. This move has resulted in many easy layups for our team. The other offensive players must always be moving to make sure that the player with the ball can see them.
DIAGRAM 7: If 4 isn’t open on the dive to the basket, 5 can throw a skip pass to either 2 or 1. 4 breaks along the baseline and gets into position on the weak-side short corner.
Countering The Counters
Once you have run this series several times, the off-side defensive guard will make an adjustment so that you’ll be unable to set the initial backscreen. That defender will play on the top side of 4, cheating more to the side of 3.
DIAGRAM 8: When the defensive guard cheats toward 3 (anticipating the “backscreen-and-pass” from the original series). 4 will then flash to the ball. 1 passes to 4.
DIAGRAM 9: As the pass from 1 to 4 is occurring, 5 dives to the basket, cutting inside the off-side defensive forward and 2 slides down to the weak-side corner. If the defensive center steps up to defend 4 at the foul line, then 4 looks to pass to 5 cutting to the basket. If the defensive center stays back, then 4 has an open jump shot from the foul line.
DIAGRAM 10: If the defensive center steps out and the off-side defensive forward slides over too quickly to cover the pass in to 5, then 4 throws a skip pass to 2 for an open jump shot on the weak side.
DIAGRAM 11: Due to the ability of our “bigs” to handle the ball, 4, who received the ball from 1, may also attack the basket by dribbling at the gap between the defensive center and the off-side defensive forward.
5 dives through the lane and pins the opposite defensive forward. 4 can drive to the basket, throw a short pass to 5 for an easy layup or kick the ball out to 3 or 2 for an open jump shot.
DIAGRAM 12: For our team, this 1-4 high zone offense can smoothly flow into our “Short-Corner Zone Offense.” If 5, who is positioned in the short corner, does not shoot the short jumper or pass to 4 diving to the basket, we’d look for a skip pass to either 1 or 2.
DIAGRAM 13: If 5 passes to 2, then 4 moves to the ball-side short corner and flashes to the ball. 2 can shoot a jump shot from the wing area, pass to 4 on the ball-side short corner or hit 3 with a skip pass to the weak side.
DIAGRAM 14: If 2 passes to 4, then 5 dives hard to the basket, looking for the pass from 4. Once 4 has the ball on the short corner, he or she can shoot the short jumper, throw a dump pass in to 5 (if the defensive center steps out to cover the short-corner jumper) or throw a skip pass to either 3 or 1.
DIAGRAM 15: If 4 throws a skip pass to 3, then you can continue the rotation, with 5 breaking to the ball-side short corner and 4 moving to the ball-side elbow.
to man or ANY ZONE .
sooner or later , we have to go up against a team that changes def. . once the ball is entered at the for. spot , all zones are the same ! pt. man - stays between the lines and does not go right or left , outside the foul line . ON REVERSES , PT. MAN ALAYS LOOKS INSIDE BEFORE HE PASSES TO THE FOR. .
forwards - i do not
allign across the foul line . if we do , the guard can cover guard and forward ! ALSO IT TAKES AWAY FROM THE OFFENSE OF THE GUARD . i have them line up in a spot that is half way outside between the guard and the forward . now someone must make another decision - does the for. cover the wing or does the guard ? plus the DEF. guard does not see a screen coming . post players - line up , each one lines up half way down the lane. the middle def. post now must guess which off. post player might slide to the middle . as the ball is at the wing , the near player either slides down low or to the 2-3 step post to the corner or moves up to put his buut on the def. guard , FACING THE BASKET !INSIDE HAND IS STICKING IT THE MIDDLE ! WHOEVER IS THE HI POST , MUST SEE WHO HE WANTS TO PUT HIS
BUTT ON . THE OUTSIDE PLAYERS STAY IN THEIR CIRCLE . MAKE SURE THE FOR. , AWAY FROM THE BALL , AS THE BALL IS IN THE AIR , BEFORE THE FOR. CATCHES IT , ( LOOK FOR A HOLE ) ! DO NOT WATCH THE BALL ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE FOR. . LOOK FOR A HOLE , THEN LOOK TO THE FOR. . THE HOLE FOR THE OPPOSITE FOR. MIGHT BE A STEP OR TWO UP , NOT DOWN . PT. MAN STAYS RIM TO RIM . DO NOT FOLLOW THE PASS TO THE FORWARD (DEF. GUARD GUARDS BOTH - HE SHOULD NOT DRIFT AWAY FROM HIS PASS , THE OPPOSIT MIGHT BE THERE . BY STAYING RIM TO RIM , PT. MAN CAN REVERSE QUICKER OR AS HE CATCHES THE FOR A REVERSE , ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE POST SLIDING ACROSS THE LANE - WITH HIS BACH TO THE BASKET.
EVERY TIME A PASS IS MADE , ONE CATCHES THE BALL AND 4 PEOPLE LOOK FOR A HOLE FIRST , TO SEE WHERE THEY SHOULD MOVE TO . OPTIONS , POST CAN MOVE UP , SCREEN YOUR GUARD . LOW POST CAN SCREEN LOW SIDE OF THE FORWARD . MM OFFENSE - THE ONLY DIFFERNT IS - AS THE GUARD PASSES , THE OPPOSITE FOR. , BACKSCREENS THE GUARD . POSTS DO THE SAME AS BEFORE OR X-CROSS ON REVERSES . OPTION - POST SCREEN GUARD , NEAR FOR. , CIRCLE BACK TO THE GUARD SPOT . DO NOT GO AWAY FROM THE BALL. POST CAN SCREEN LOW SIDE FOR THE FOR . .