Basketball Systems, Skills & Drills

Zone offence
Atkins North Carolina T-game

Ken Atkins

Continuity offence with a three-man rotation (3-4-5, or 2-4-5).

1 dribbles to either side of the floor, 3 pops out to the ballside wing for a pass (4 and 5 set screens for 3 if possible), 2 pops out from the high post opposite 1, 5 cuts to the ballside high post, 4 stays low ballside.

If 1 passes to 2 at the high post, 2 turns and faces, 4 ducks in, 3 and 5 step off the lane toward the corners, giving three attackers along the baseline.


- 4 fills the ballside short corner, 5 fills the mid post
- 1 and 2 exchange positions on a pass to a wing.

Dean Smith - the T-game can be used against man-to-man or zone defence. It provides an inside attack, offensive rebounding, continuity, and flexibility. He used it as a single-post and triple-post offence (shown here), but also devised it as a double-post offence. On the pass to 3, 1 and 2 interchange against man-to-man defence, 1 cuts weakside, going between the basket and 5, who is also moving. 1 stays against zone, ensuring a quick outlet if 3 is double-teamed.

See Zone Offences - Huggins dive and fill, T-game, Versoix overload.

A pass back to 1 begins the three-man rotation, 4 cuts across the lane, 2 makes himself available for the next pass.

Dean Smith - 3-4-5 fill the corner, low post, and high post. Against zone defence they like the ball to go from the corner to the high post, if instead 3 throws back to 1 they like him to pass to the high post, who looks to weakside 2 or low-post 4 on the other side of the lane. The T-game is perhaps most effective against 1-2-2 and 3-2 zones, although they also use it against a 2-1-2.

If 1 passes back to 3, 5 dives low and 4 fills the high post.

Against an odd-front zone defence, 1 usually reverses the ball by passing to 2. 4 keeps going to the ballside wing, 5 crosses the foul line, 3 goes to the weakside block.

On a pass to 4, 5 dives low, 3 comes to the high post.

The rotation is low to wing, high to low, and wing to high.

If 5 is shaky handling the ball on the perimeter, have him fill only the low post and high post, or only the low post and on the baseline, the other two players in the rotation fill the remaining spots.

See Zone offences - 2-1-2, T-game (single-post), Dave Odom vs. 1-3-1, Pitt vs. 1-3-1.

A pass to 2 begins the rotation, 5 crosses the lane.

Here the ball is reversed by skip pass, rotation is again low to wing, high to low, wing to high.

On a pass into the low post, high-post 5 slices to the basket, weakside 2 flashes to the space vacated by 5, then gets back.

On a pass to high-post 5, he looks for 4, 3 (who drops towards the corner), or 2 opposite, and can shoot or drive.

To reverse the ball against an even-front or match-up zone, high-post 5 ballscreens for 1 then rolls low, 2 moves to keep spacing from the ball, 4 keeps going to the corner (not the wing).

Dean Smith - the ballscreen is especially effective against zone defence, 1 makes a penetrating dribble to the middle, 5 sees it, sets a screen, and rolls to the basket.

If 4 dribbles out of the corner, 5 goes short corner, 3 moves down to the mid post, 2 and 1 space away.

Reversing the ball by ballscreen is more difficult when 3 is at the mid post (e.g., after a dribble-out from the corner, or if rotation positions are short corner, mid post, wing).

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2007-13 Eric Johannsen