Michigan vs Syracuse 2011 and beating the zone

I have a ton basketball knowledge so you should listen to me. I coach and played. I now officiate.  I could go on and on. So that makes me an expert on the 2-3 zone.

We are lucky enough to get a little preview of this Final Four match up back in 2011 when Michigan played Cuse in the Legends Classic. Now the 2011 Michigan team is in no way as good as the 2013 team but not far off.

The basics are to keep the ball moving. Burke can't pound the air out of the rock for 10 and 15 secs of a position. Attack the creases(looking at you THJ,GR3 and Burke) and find soft spots in the zone. Soft spots can be found all over the court. Moving the ball with a good flow will open them all up. A "stuck" ball will not.

Soft spots in the short corner
This is where Burke must find Mcgary, Morgan, GR3 and Horford's when the soft spot in the zone opens up in the short corner. Ok pictures.

Morgan is standing in the short corner. If one thing Morris has on Burke is his great court vision. He already can see Morgan creeping in the short corner. He looks out to his right which looks off the center Mello and opens a crease for a pretty pass which Morgan finishes for 2. Now the pass was a bit high which caused Morgan to use a up and under but the play was made. Also with Novak close to the short corner that means his man won't sag off a lot since he can knock down threes. That will be Nik on Saturday. Michigan has to get its fair share of easy buckets from the short corner.

Soft Spots in the Corners
Alright Nik this is you buddy.
I suspect Beilein will move Nik all over and even throw him in the middle which is a great idea. It is harder to keep track of shooters in the zone if you are not just planting them on wings and having them wait for kicks. Here Evan starts in middle. The ball swings right and he moves out to the corner and Morgan slides to the cuse bench side. This moves the zone which gives Morris his crease to attack. The defense closes on Morris and the ball is kicked to the corner for a easy three for Evan. Open shots will be had when Burke attacks. Michigan just has to make them.

Soft Spot in the Middle
THJ needs to be chucking less here and be more of a play maker.
When the ball get to the high elbow or the "middle" the zone is broke. Options galore happen. You have the shot, the dump down to the short corner and the drive and kick for a 3. Now here Evan rushes the shot and misses. He has Morgan wide open for the dump or he can put the ball on the floor and suck the defense in even more setting up Stu(not the best idea since he wasn't that skilled at doing such things). The reason the zone works even after you break it is because the players are given so many options they don't always take the right one or they turn it over. THJ will be the main man here and maybe Mitch too. THJ can't just chuck the ball at the hoop cause hes open for one split second. Him getting to the rack would be a great option which gets him to the foul line and gets open looks for his team. I can't stress it enough that getting the ball in the middle is only half the battle. Once there you will need be quick and smart. Dumb teams like Marquette get killed since they DERP once the ball enters the high posts.

A few notes on this 2011 game
-Michigan lacks the talent Cuse has but Beilein's X and O zone break keeps this game close.
-Michigan got a good number of offensive rebs. GO GET EM MITCH.
-THJ was THJ. Bad shot selection, quick shots in the middle of the zone.
-Morris found Morgan countless times in the short corner. Burke must do the same.
-Like they did with Evan, moving Nik all over the court in the zone will be key.
-The corners were open a lot in this game. Nik should be drooling.
-Jordan Morgan looks more confident in this game then he has all season in 2013.

A few notes on the 2013 game
-Burke has to move the ball. The only dribbling that is needed will be for hitting creases.
-Team basketball is key.
-Be smart when you break the zone. Looking at you Tim.
-Feast on the short corner Mitch and GR3.
-Turnovers will happen and happen early.
-If the shots fall the zone will become less aggressive. You have won the war.
-THJ is due. That is all I will say.

Michigan struggled for a bit with the Florida's zone but found comfort after about 5 mins of it. That is how zones are. Your brain settles in after seeing it move position after position  You know the movements of the defense. After Michigan settles in the turnovers will become less and things should open up a lot. This is why when I coach I would never use it full time. Its great for a change of pace or "curve ball" but after the offense settles in... It can be hard to get defensive stops. I won't even get into rebounding.

Michigan has all the tools to "get nuts" on this thing but they will need to be smart, quick and shoot decent. Slow and dumb could cause Michigan to lose. I like our chances if Burke is finding his bros. Remember Bros before shots vs a Zone Trey. Go Blue.

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