Basketball Systems, Skills & Drills

Zone offence
Memphis X

Tony Barone

Rules against any zone defence

- attack horizontally and vertically, otherwise the zone slides are easy
- never allow one defender to guard two attackers
- use pass fakes, and shot fakes
- your alignment should distort the zone, and a 1-4 set distorts any zone
- spacing is critical
- the short corner is a key spot
- when you leave an area, replace the area (it can be a step back), replace a cutter
- snap passes, don't float them
- use skip passes, e.g., wing to wing, block to wing
- it's not how quick you shoot, it's how quick you set up to shoot (step into your shot)
- prepare your rebound angles
- don't be afraid to come from behind the zone, start bigs below the zone to expand it
- you want to expand and contract the zone
- post bigs above the first marker for room to throw the ball, and to make the zone become compact
- use the 3-point line as a shot threat, for spacing, and for better penetration angles
- do you want your team to shoot 3's in transition?

See Hubie Brown 1-4.


4 and 5 start on the arc. You want to enter the ball to 4 or 5, but it's easier to pass to the wings. 1 attacks middle against a 2-3 zone, attacks off-centre against an odd-front zone, drive into a gap.

On a pass to 3, 4 opens up, drops down (above the first marker), looks for the ball. 5 replaces 4 at the high post (above the foul line), 2 reads the backside of the zone e.g., to step up or step in.

On a pass to the high post, the low post ducks in (above the "charge line").

The post players x-cut if 5 passes to 2 (or if 3 skip passes to 2, or 3 passes to 1 who passes to 2).

Jamie Dixon, Jim Calhoun - the posts x-cut to the short corners.

Jamie Dixon - the posts don't x-cut on a skip pass.

Run "wheel" action on a pass into the low post, 4 dives, 1 and 3 rotate, passer 2 goes opposite his zone defender's head turn. Usually 3 is wide open.


On an entry pass to high post 5, 4 dives.

To expand the zone, 5 does not want to pass to 2 or 1, he skip passes to 3, 5 and 4 x-cut.


You must screen against zones. 4 dives when he sees 5's screen for 1 (they get 4 inside a lot). 2 spaces away from 1 (floats). To expand the zone after screening, 5 steps at least to the midline (away from the ball).

The posts x-cut on ball reversal to 3.

Or 4 replaces 5 out top, 1 stays weakside (see the Hi-Lo zone attack).

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2007-13 Eric Johannsen