R&R Not Working Against 2-3 Zones

Discussion in 'About Offense' started by Youth Coach, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. Youth Coach Member

    I think many here know my story. I've coach R&R for 4-5 years with a lot of success, but those were girls or boys A level rec players. This year, I have B level girls rec players, and we are just a .500 team that has to grind out wins. Although our full and 1/2 court press are good, and we play tough man to man, we just aren't getting enough points. Too many empty possessions, not enough off ball movement, etc. My girls just aren't cutting after passes, let alone hooking/looking, Laker cuts, dribble ats, etc.

    Against the ubiquitous 2-3 zones we see, I even tried scrapping R&R to see even we could run a basic set. I had my 1 up top, 2 and 3 on the wings, my 5 on the FT line and my 4 on the short corner. I tried to install a simple 1-3-1-1 set. My girl up top would get the ball to the wing. Then my 4 would overload that side and run to the short corner. From there, my wing would Laker cut after passing to the 4, and the other 2 guards will fill up spots. If we didn't hit her, my 5 would try to dive in the paint for a pass from the 4. If that didn't work, we'd try to reverse the ball and try it from the other side. I thought this was simple to understand and used basic R&R principles.

    It hasn't worked. Either we've faced matchup zones that made it difficult to get the ball in the short corner, or my girl in the short corner get the ball, but fails to hit either the cutter from the wing or the girl diving to the basket.

    I've tried running traditional R&R, but my girls are not moving. Yes, I know the answer is drilling the movements so that they become instinctual. The season has one game left before the playoffs.

    Am I better off trying to keep drilling my 1-3-1-1 movement against 2-3 zones? Is there a better/simpler attack against 2-3 zones (that either use R&R principles or don't)? I'm beside myself. I've been spending half our time on fundamentals because I owe it to these girls, but it would be nice to get some solid offensive movement.

    Any thoughts would be great. Thanks.
  2. mvcbruce Active Member

    From Dustin @ BB:
    We finished a new Zone Attack that will be available shortly.
    Stay tuned . . .
  3. Youth Coach Member

    Any chance you could give a sneak peek? Our regular season ends this weekend, so some new zone principles would be nice to have before our Thursday practice. Thanks.
  4. Youth Coach Member

    Anyone? What kinds of adjustments (if any) have you all made when your R&R has struggled against zones?
  5. mvcbruce Active Member

    Tough Question!
    1) Hit 4 or 5 three's and they'll come out of the zone
    2) Run some Quick Hitters to get an easy look (may work once or twice a game)
    3) Change Formations . . .
    . . . a) If they're 2-3 Zone you set up in 1-4 High . . . Outnumber their defense
    . . . b) If they're in 3-2 Zone you set up in 1-4 Low
    . . . c) If they're in any Zone you can set up a mismatch formation like High Post @ Elbow & Low Post in Short Corner with a Wing and Point Guard on the same side of Floor as Both Posts!
    See attachments links below:
    https://dl.dropbox.com/u/103661469/Zone Quick Hitters.pdf
    https://dl.dropbox.com/u/103661469/Zone stuff.pdf
  6. ST1 Member

    I need this new Zone attack stuff before my season starts!!!!!
  7. Coach H New Member

    Coach I see a lot of 2-3 zones I basically screen the top defenders and bottom defenders. This has worked very successfully. I like that 1-4 high look because the players at the top can screen the top defenders on the entry pass to the wings
  8. Hoop Active Member

    The title of this thread is, "RnR Not Working Against 2-3 Zones". Here is my take from my experience (6th and 7th grade, non-select boys)
    • Players cannot count (Cut into the zone, move on the pass, leave on the 2nd pass) OR they become so over burdened by counting that they forget to play basketball. So, right there, you are limited to the 4 Out/3 Out.
    • Players are not confident with they choice of "spots". [I constantly see boys move towards one spot only to change their mind and move to another...turning their back to the ball in the process. I find this behavior strange, but very real.]
    • Players do not string actions together (also a problem in M2M). This make High-Low and other swiftly executed Zone sequences nearly impossible. It is the difference between playing checkers and playing chess. Back to the counting issue, players will leave the interior of a zone because that what the count says to do...despite an attack being initiated.
    • Given the choice of standing still and pass on the perimeter versus probing/penetrating the zone, players will choose the stand still/pass option.
    • Players need to be patient and then explode an attack on the zone....my players like to be safe/patient.
    This season I started with the simple Stanford Zone Motion. I totally choreographed the offense for them: where to go and when. I showed them where and when to attack. In the end, they just ran the motion and never attacked the zone.

    My conclusion? The RnR is perfect for the Zone. It is not the problem. It always comes back to coaching, drilling, and yes, your players willingness/courage to play the game. More than once, I have told my boys that they were "in a game today, but they didn't play a game".
    Coach_Alex and Tom7 like this.
  9. plavitch Active Member

    That is a great line, Hoop.
  10. Tom7 Administrator

    Thank you for saying this, Hoop. I have held back on commenting on this post on purpose, but this might be a good time to stop lurking.

    Based on my experience with the RRO, I can say with total confidence that the RRO works great against a 2-3 zone. In fact, I see 2-3 zones more than any other defense and we beat it all the time with RRO.

    I think it is extremely interesting that the OP (original poster) "even tried scrapping R&R to see even we could run a basic set." Because running the basic set failed as well, that is strong evidence that the RRO was not the problem.

    I'm a computer guy and so I get called a lot by family and friends when they are stuck. Often they tell me a vague generality like, "The computer won't work."

    Of course, the odds are about 0.1% that the entire computer is broken and needs replacing, so I never think, "This isn't working, I need to scrap it and start over with something else." Instead, I begin looking at individual components, including software and the possibility of operator error, and assess the components individually.

    Similarly, if your offense seems to not be working, then you need to stop looking at the problem as "the offense" (as a whole) and break your analysis down to the 6 elements of offense, and gauge how each is doing.

    I frequently mention that there are 6 variables in offense:

    System Contributions:
    1. Spacing
    2. Ball movement
    3. Player movement

    Player Contributions:
    4. Effort
    5. Acumen
    6. Capability


    When you divide, you often find you can conquer.
  11. Tom7 Administrator

    (Speaking of divide and conquer, I'm breaking my response into separate posts to make it more readable).

    When things are going really well, or when things are going badly, I try to discipline myself to see what is happening within each of those 6 variables; it helps me understand the game better.

    For example, if I can see that the team is running RRO by the rules then I can conclude that our spacing, ball movement and player movement are probably not the problem. I don't need to make "system" adjustments.

    And if I can see the team is giving great effort... then the odds are that either we are overmatched (capability), or we could make better decisions within the framework of the offense (acumen).

    If the problem is capability, then more practice time should be devoted to player development to make them more capable.

    If the problem is decision making, then they need to know how to use the nuances of the RRO to succeed against a 2-3 zone, and that's what I'd dedicate practice time to.

    From what you described, I would give SERIOUS thought to having a film session or two with this team, Youth Coach. In fact, I would ask the parents to be there too if possible to give added accountability. When the parents are clear on what their youth are supposed to be doing, they can encourage their youth to do it.
  12. Youth Coach Member

    Well, this is probably my last post of the season. We are in the playoffs now. We are - both anecdotally and statistically - an average team. Not great height, not great team athleticism, not great shooters, etc. We should win our game this week, but our biggest issue on offense is still getting good shots reasonably close to the basket.

    I've tried 3-2 with one big running the short corners, and the other screening the strong side elbow. From there, I've stressed getting the ball to the strong side wing, then the short corner. We can either do a Laker cut for the wing (who could also pass to the strong side elbow post) or a dive for the big who is screening the elbow.

    My girls just won't consistently get the ball to the short corner. So we end up running either 5-Out, 4-1, or 3-2 R&R offense, and I cannot get my girls to consistently hook in the zone and receive a pass.

    Any ideas of some simple rules to get either a consistent overload or some semblance of a R&R offense that results in closer in shots?

    Thanks. I've stayed positive, but it's been my most trying season so far.
  13. Youth Coach Member

    Any thoughts, guys?
  14. Tom7 Administrator

    Argh! I wish I had more time! Let me see if I can get my thoughts together and get something posted for you.
  15. Tom7 Administrator

    I'm sorry for not being able to make more time to hang out here. Between overseeing a community basketball league (busiest in March), helping my friends' adult team, and my web host problems, I am insanely over programmed right now.

    As a coach, I've caught myself looking that silver bullet that slays all the wicked (our opponents), or that fairy dust that lifts our players above the competition, or at least for a guarantee that a certain something will always work. I blame fast food. ;) When meals come easy, we tend to think of meals as items, rather than the end result of a recipe of many ingredients run through a process that takes time.

    I don't see certain plays as ways to beat any defense, including zones. Instead, I think there are lots of things which taken together give you an ADVANTAGE when facing zones.

    One of these tactics is so simple, that when I try to teach it I feel players and coaches brush it off, like I'm Elisha telling Naaman to wash 7 times in the river Jordan. But it is a legit tactic and it is honestly effective.

    In fact, it is so effective that Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski made sure to include it on his DVD for attacking zone defenses.

    It's called: Be unpredictable.

    Don't be so literal about your offensive execution that your opponent starts to see it coming from a mile away. Use deception. Use misdirection. Use ball fakes. Use pump fakes.

    Good defense requires anticipation. Knowing, or at least GUESSING, where the ball is likely to be passed or driven allows help to close gaps or stop attacks. If you make the defense jump for nothing, however, then you may create something else by their movement. Or even better, if your deceptions freeze the defense so they don't react, then you are a couple of steps quicker when you attack for real.

    Here is Coach K teaching this to his players.

    View: http://youtu.be/SThECux6Im4?t=5s

    It doesn't have to be sophisticated, fancy, or require high skill or IQ to pull off. Any player can do what Manu Ginobili does in this clip to clear a path for his layup.

    View: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwCJrS67NsA

    Same move, Jru Holiday

    View: http://youtu.be/CaUz4vjV0ns

    Of course those moves were in transition, what about against half court defense? Here is Rando using ball fakes (a.k.a pass fakes) while standing completely still to help him make plays.

    View: http://youtu.be/po2OjLc7pVw

    Rondo can get fancy too -- not that there is anything wrong with fancy, provided it is in the context of the game and the passer stays under control with the ball as these pass fakes show:

    View: http://youtu.be/_hDAfLzH80s
    plavitch likes this.
  16. Tom7 Administrator

    Another tactic so simple that I don't think coaches and players take me seriously when I try to teach it is spacing.

    MAN it has been hard to teach this adult team I'm helping this season how important spacing is. Every zone has gaps, it's just a matter of how safe they are to exploit. I keep telling this adult team I'm coaching this season that what we are trying to do with our spacing is create space behind the perimeter defenders, and exploit those gaps with cutters and passes, and with dribble penetration.

    Spacing is so important that Bobby Knight did a whole DVD just on spacing. And he charges $80 for it. Seriously.

    Still, you know people are going to look past fundamentals such as spacing and keep searching for the fairy dust to beat a zone.

    But just look at the space the offense at the beginning of this clip has created.

    View: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHdXHWDWQFo

    I love it when Bobby Knight says in the clip, "Ideally, we want someone that can FAKE and drive." Showing again how being unpredictable is important in a zone attack.

    As I wrote in 2011:

    Maybe your players can’t get the ball inside because your spacing is the real problem.
    Bad spacing:
    • Causes teams to shoot outside more
    • Decreases free throw attempts (due to the lack of inside play)
    • Lowers shooting percentages
    • Clogs driving lanes
    • Closes passing lanes
    • Creates turnovers
    • Gives opponents a higher shooting percentage due to more transition baskets and layups
    If you see these symptoms, your spacing is sick, so treat the root cause, not the symptoms.
    Good spacing (together with good ball movement and good player movement):
    • Wears down your opponent more quickly
    • Causes their tired players to reach (instead of moving their feet) and collect more fouls
    • Sometimes puts their better players on the bench for more of the game
    • Makes your opponents’ double teaming of your key players less effective
    • Blunts their quickness advantage, if they have one
    • Gives you more inside shots for bigs
    • Lets guards get to the rim and score, or draw fouls on their bigs
    • Gets you more points from the free throw line
    • Makes passing easier
    • Makes dribble penetration more effective
    • Reduces turnovers and giving up of easy baskets
    • Makes the game more fun for the players which increases their confidence
    • Increased confidence generally causes players to play better in all aspects of their game
    As you may have noticed from that list, good spacing doesn’t just give your team an advantage all game long, but it usually puts your team in a better position in the final minutes of the game to close out a close game with a win.
    plavitch likes this.
  17. Tom7 Administrator

    Once those previous things are in place, then I have other things I like to do, ways of creating good shots...

    But before I get to those, I have to explain three modifications I have made to the Read and React Offense (RRO), one of which I am just experimenting with this season -- and I am sure will be hated by many of the coaches here.

    Mod #1: Play 4-out from the 5-out spots

    Against a zone, our primary formation is 4-out in the 5-out spots. (Against a man, we usually play 4-out from the 4-out spots). Playing 4-out from the 5-out spots gets us corner 3s on random sides of the floor just by ball movement: passing and filling to the perimeter, sometimes catching the defense off guard that we have a player in that corner now.

    Mod #2: Poor 3-point shooters fill to the short corner instead of the corner

    I'm a post defender and I KNOW Emily (on the opposing team) cannot shoot threes. When Emily makes her cut, I'll stay with her, but once she heads back out to a corner, I'm going to let her go and cover the next cutter. Why? Because I know Emily isn't a 3-point threat. Putting a non 3-point shooting big on in the corner is basically deciding to play your opponent 4 on 5 for a time. However, if Emily can score from the short corner, then I've got to step away from the rim to cover her, leaving a cutting lane free behind me.

    Mod #3: Suspend RRO for 3-out

    Here is the experimental modification I'm trying this season that I'm sure many coaches here will hate.

    The men's team I have been helping (community league) is stacked with post players. To leverage that, we often go to playing 3 out, however no one wants to be out. These post players are reluctant to fill to the perimeter because they feel like there is nothing they can do to help the team out there. Consequently, 3-out starts to look like 1-out as they all linger inside before filling and our spacing is a mess and offense gets VERY tough, even though we have many talented offensive players.

    To address this, at times we "pause" the RRO and play 3-out (top and both wings), and have those 3 pass the ball along the perimeter looking for opportunities to get the ball to a post player. The post players have to really move and work, and the perimeter has to look like the want to shoot 3s or drive, even if they won't be.When they pass to a perimeter player, there is no cutting from the perimeter. However, when we pass to a post player, we cut and circle around the outside as per RRO.

    Because our spacing is better, we can sometimes get good shots with a lot of quick passing, especially with ball reversals.

    After several perimeter passes, a big will step out to either set a pick or a perimeter player and we are now back in RRO mode... or a big will fill to a corner and we are 4-out and back in RRO mode again.
    plavitch likes this.
  18. CoachDC New Member

    I've been meaning to respond to this thread for awhile, but just couldn't find the time. Here's our R&R (with modifications) basic zone attack. Comments and feedback appreciated ...

    A couple of preliminary thoughts ...
    * We try to keep the same R&R language, with slightly modified reactions.
    * Our 5 plays in box around the free throw line, following the ball.
    * I have tried to emphasize to our 5 that he should move after the zone has shifted and to our wings that they should look to get the ball into the short corner as much as possible.
    * I also emphasized to our wings that they should use plenty of ball fakes and look to reverse the ball.
    * I have not yet taught "Pin & Skip"; that's up next. The rule in our league is man-to-man D, with zone allowed only in tournament play.

    1A. Zone attack 1.jpg
    We start in a 3 out + 1 in + 1 in short corner alignment. If 1 passes to the wing on the same side as the short corner, he cuts through, fills out opposite and 3 fills the empty space at the top.

    1B. Zone attack 1B.jpg
    If 1 passes to wing where the short corner is empty, he fills that spot.

    2A. Zone attack 2.jpg
    If the wing passes to the post, he and the short corner exchange places. Here I've emphasized that our 5 should turn and face the basket, and look "Rim - Short Corner - Opposite Wing".

    2B. Zone attack 2B.jpg
    If the wing reverses the ball back up top, he cuts through to the either short corner and the player in the short corner pops out to the wing, i.e. pass, cut, fill empty spot.

    3. Zone attack 3.jpg
    If the wing passes to the short corner, he and the guard at the top exchange places. He can even screen the guard at the top of the zone, if the situation presents itself.

    I created simple 3-man drills using these actions to teach the "parts" after demonstrating the whole.
    plavitch likes this.
  19. plavitch Active Member

    These are some great ideas. CoachDC, your last option there is essentially the X-cut option off a post feed. The only one that looks funny to me is 2A, with the short corner player moving out to the wing. My instinct is to have that player change sides of the floor.

    @Tom7: What is your assessment of suspending P&C rules in 3-out? We have run very little 3-out over the years and I really didn't like it when we did. Do you think that is doable with older players but might be confusing to younger ones?
  20. CoachDC New Member

    I think you're on to something. What if after the pass to the post, the wing cuts to the short corner, the short corner "hooks and looks" into the opposite short corner, then pops out to the opposite wing for ball reversal. On the initial pass in to the short corner, the top and opposite guards would fill perimeter spots as usual.

    That would seem to be congruent with R&R habits and keep the action flowing. Maybe I'll draw that up and replace 2A above.
    Tom7 likes this.

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