Basketball: Kevin Sutton’s favorite set plays vs. zone defense
Running set plays against zone defenses gives your offense an advantage in a few ways:
- The coach and the players know who is going to shoot.
- The coach and the players know where the shot is going to be taken, giving your team a better opportunity for an offensive rebound.
- All of the players are in proper position when the play starts.
The following are three set plays I use against zones. Timing, spacing and coordinated movement all are important to the effectiveness of the play.
DIAGRAM 1: Lob to 2 (A). Start with 2 and 5 in the post and 4 and 3 on the perimeter. 1 passes to 3, then screens away for 4. 2 cuts hard to the ball-side elbow. 4 pops to the top.
DIAGRAM 2: Lob to 2 (B). 3 reverses the ball by passing to 4. 4 passes to 1 on the opposite wing.
DIAGRAM 3: Lob to 2 (C). 5 comes into the lane and screens the middle defender. 2 curls around the back side of the zone. 3 cuts through the lane to the ball-side short corner. 1 lobs to 2 for the score. If 2 is not open, 3 sets a screen and 2 uses it to come to the ball-side corner.
DIAGRAM 4: Reversal for 3-pointer (A). This play starts with the same offensive formation as ‘Lob to 2.’ The initial movements also are the same, with 2 cutting to the elbow when 1 passes to 3. 1 screens away for 4.
DIAGRAM 5: Reversal for 3-pointer (B). 3 reverses the ball by passing to 4. 4 passes to 1 on the opposite wing.
DIAGRAM 6: Reversal for 3-pointer (C). 3 cuts through the lane to the ball-side short corner. 5 and 2 then set a double screen for 3. 3 uses the screen, curls to the opposite wing and receives the reversal pass from 4 for an open 3-pointer.
DIAGRAM 7: Throwback (A). This play has 2 on the outside and 4 starting on the inside. 1 passes to 3 and screens away for 2. 4 comes to the ball-side elbow.
DIAGRAM 8: Throwback (B). The reversal goes 3, to 2, to 1. 3 curls around 4 to the ball-side short corner.
DIAGRAM 9: Throwback (C). 1 dribbles toward the top of the key, and 2 moves to the opposite wing with the help of zone screens by 4 and 5. 3 replaces 1. 1 throws the ball back to 3 for the open shot or hits 2 on the wing.
Kevin Sutton is the assistant men’s basketball coach at the University of Pittsburgh.