Our “Point” Zone has many of the same responsabilities we have in our man-to-man defense. We will have good ball pressure, our free-throws corners and low post areas will be protected, and every defender must move on the pass. It will look like a 2-3 zone to decieve the offense at the start of the possession. We will stay in a 2-3 look until the ball leaves the middle one-third of the floor. We want X1 to “point” the ball to start. X2 will cover the next pass to his left and X3 the next pass to the right. Once the ball is passed out of the middle of the floor, we will “point” and declare the cover of the ball hander and the zone will look like a 1-3-1. Once we “point” the ball, we will get in our “partner system” (explained below). We want to pressure the ball and have the other four defenders “protect in and then recover out on the pass”. Wherever the ball is located, free- throws corners and low post areas are always covered and protected by the defenders on the wings. These defenders on the wings of the zone only rotate out and leave the three-second lane when the ball is in the air. Everyone must move and adjust as the ball moves.
POINT ZONE INITIAL ALIGNMENT
X1 and X2 will be on the left side of the floor. X2 e X4 will be on the right side. X5 is always between the ball and the basket (diagr. 1). Note: We can also show the “point” if the offense comes down in a one guard front set.
X1 and X4 are partners, as well as X2 and X3. When X1 “points” the zone, X4 has rim area protection (deep man); when X2 points the zone, X3 has rim area protection (deep man).
RULES FOR THE DEFENDERS ON THE WINGS
The partners off the ball will form the “wings of the zone”. They will build a wall with X5 in the middle and resemble the shape of an airplane wing. Wherever the ball is located, the ballside free-throw corner and low post area are covered and protected by the defenders on the wings. These defenders cover the next pass in their direction unless the pass goes over and behind their head. They must anticipate where their next pass will be and they should only rotate out and leave the three-second area when the ball is in the air. Move as the ball moves. They should get their head on a swivel and see/locate shooters and cutters. The defenders on the wings must adjust their position in relation to the next pass. If there is no offensive player in their vision, they should flatten out a little to anticipate their next pass/point. Do not guard an empty area and stay usually three steps down and three steps across from the defender “pointing” the ball. X3 can always take the next pass and X4 has to know where he is on the floor and be prepared to bump if the ball is above the first hashmark above the block.
RULES FOR X4
X4 must be very active and read and communicate to his teammates. His area of coverage will be basically from corner to corner. We want to limit the amount of times X4 points the ball on the wing so X1 is not in the “deep” position often. If X4 “points” the ball on the wing, we want X2 to bump him down. Anything above the first hashmark above the block, X2 should be prepared to cover and bump X4 off the ball.
Wherever the ball is located, top (diagr. 2), wing (diagr. 3), corner (diagr. 4) or high post (diagr. 5), the block and elbow are always covered and protected.
RULES FOR THE CENTER
X5 is always between the ball and the basket. His positioning allows him to absorb all penetration, defend the ball, if it gets into the high post, give help against high pick-androlls, and front the post if the ball is in the corner.
HOW THE “POINT” IS INITIATED AND DEFENDING THE INITIAL POINT TO WING PASS
We will begin in a 2-3 zone alignment until the ball leaves one-third of the floor. We want X1 and X3 on the left side and X2 and X4 on the right side. We want X1 as much as possible to “point” the ball handler, when we are in our 2-3 look, unless the ball is past the pro lane extended on the right side of the floor. Our rule for defending the initial wing entry pass, is what we will hold and bump against the first pass on the right side of the floor (diagr. 6) with X4 and X2 (unless the first pass is made to the corner), and we will only bump versus the first pass made to the left side with X1 and X3 (diagr. 7), if we see it is an overload. We are trying to limit X4 from covering the corner to restrict his area of coverage.
At this point, the rule is: when X1 or X4 “point” the zone, X2 and X3 are always in the wing position and when X2 or X3 “point” the zone, X1 and X4 are always in the wing position. This will always give our point zone a look of a 1-3-1 zone. The ball will see a 1-3-1 alignment unless the ball is in the corner (diagr. 8, 9 and 10). As a result, since you would never rotate a defender off the court, when the ball is in a corner, our zone will now look like a 2-3 alignment. Thus, when X4 points the ball in the corner, X1 will be at the weakside elbow (diagr. 11). By rule, anytime X3 points the ball around the free-throw line extended area and X5 is above the block, X4 would cross the lane. X4 come across the lane and have his left hand in the low post almost touching X5's right hand (diagr. 12). In spite of the rule, we will have X4 make the decision how far he will rotate over based on wheter the ballside corner is filled or not. If the ballside corner is empty, X4 can cheat towards the rim and kick X2 out (diagr. 13). X4 must talk to X5 and tell him he is by himself to defend the low post. If X5 is on the block or below, the opposite defender on the wing will not rotate over. X3/X4 will stay weakside. X5 will front the post (diagr. 14 and 15).
DEFENDING THE SKIP PASS
If the skip pass is in front of his field of vision as he looks directly to the ceiling, it is his “point” in the zone (diagr. 16, 17, 18 and 19); if the pass is behind his field of vision, it is the next defender's point on the perimeter (diagr. 20 and 21). For the most part everything above the free-throw line extended should be covered by X1 and X2.
AREAS OF COVERAGE
In the diagram 22, the dotted lines refer to the areas of coverage each player will have in the “point” zone; in the diagram 23, instead, X5 will work the “small triangle” and will be between the ball and the basket. In the definition of “areas of coverage”, there are important points of emphasis:
- We must declare “the point”.
- Once the “point” has been established, it is crucial that we control the ball. We need good ball pressure to limit crisp passes.
- You must always know where your next point is going to be. Close out in a no- middle stance.
- Open up after your man passes the ball with your butt to the baseline and point to your next rotation. Don't let cutters get behind you.
- Your next “point” is your blockout assignment.
- Weakside defenders must call out cutters and locate blockouts.
- Don't get screened. Sit on the high side and leave when the ball is in the air.
- When the ball goes into low post, X5 have to defense.
- Must adjust quickly on bumps, especially X1 on X2/X4 bump down.
DEFENDING THE HIGH PICK-AND-ROLL VERSUS THE POINT ZONE
We will determine wheter X1/X2 will go over/ under the pick based on scouting. We want the defender on the ball to keep coming and stay with the ball. X5's job in the zone is to stay between the ball and the basket. He will give support by either “showing” or be in a “loose and protect” position. The defender on the guard off the ball will stunt as the ball- handler is turning the corner to slow him down (diagr. 24).
SPECIAL HIGH PICK-AND-ROLL COVERAGE: “FIRE”
X1 passes th ball off to X2. X2 takes 5's roll. X1 takes 4 on the replace (diagr. 25).
DEFENDING THE SIDE PICK-AND-ROLL VERSUS THE “POINT” ZONE
We want to “blue and release” versus the side pick-and-roll. We want to push the ball towards the baseline and then “pass off” the dribbler to either X3 or X4 (diagr. 26). We want the weakside guard ready to stunt on a pass back to the pop.
DEFENDING SCREENS ALONG THE BASELINE/ WEAKSIDE SCREEN-INS
We do not want to be screened in along the baseline. The majority of the time we want to sit on the high side of the screen and move
as the ball is in the air. Do not bite on ball fakes! If the screen is up higher on the lane, we should go on the low side (diagr. 27).
CHANGING POINTS VERSUS THE DRIBBLE
We will bump any dribble up/down if the ball enters another defender's area of coverage. In the diagram 28 we find a situation where the dribbler, guarded by X4 in corner, is bumped by X4 to wing, where X2 is ready to guarded him. We find the opposite situation in the diagram 29 where the dribbler, guarded in the wing by X2, is bumped to corner where he will be guarded by X4. The difensive exchange in the central position is different (diagr. 30). X2 bumps X1 off the ball. They exchange “point” at the pro lane. On the bump, X1 must sprint back to 1, while X2 must charge the ball and force him back to X1.
DEFENDING THE HIGH POST IN THE POINT ZONE
High post responsabilty is shared in the “point zone”. When the ball is on the wing, the defender on the wing closest to the elbow will have his inside hand in the passing lane and the defender on the center, who is between the ball and the basket, will have his outside hand in the passing lane to discourage a high post entry pass. They should make it appear that there is no opening for the entry. Defenders on the weakside must communicate to the strongside defenders that a cutter is coming to the high post. They may have to take the cut a couple of steps then pass off the cutter to a teammate. The defender on the wings must costantly work on a rotating to take away a high post pass (diagr. 31, 32 and 33). “Move when the ball moves”.
DEFENDING VERSUS 4 OUT – 1 IN
If 5 starts inside the three-second lane and he steps out to the perimeter, X5 have to “point” him (diagr. 34). If 5 starts outside and stays on the perimeter, one of the “small” defenders have to “point” him (diagr. 35).
DEFENDING WHEN THE BALL GETS INTO THE HIGH POST
If the ball is caught in the high post, it is X5's “point.” We want the other four defenders to “pinch and flare”. We want to protect our free-throws corners and the low post areas, when the ball is in the high post. If they have shooters on the perimeter, we want our defender closest to the free- throw area to flare out and cheat towards the shooters (diagr. 36). Based on scouting, there may be times we have the defenders closest to the elbow dig the ball out of the high post. We do not want to turn our heads and be ball magnets. We must protect our boxes and be alert to a quick return pass out to perimeter shooters. X5 should pressure the big offensive player with the ball only when he turns and faces.
DEFENDING HIGH-LOW FLASHES
When the ball goes from 1 to a wing and the weakside low post flash to high post position to receive, the defense moves like this (diagr. 37): X1 goes to high post position to close the pass lane, X4 follows his man flashing, guarding him from the behind, X5 defends the low post on the strongside in front of 5. If the ball doesn't goes to the high post, he goes back to 1 and then to the other wing, X3 goes to defend on the weakside elbow, X1 does the same on the strongside while X4 follows 4 coming back to the strongside low post and X5 guards the possible flash of 5 to high post (diagr. 38).
TRAPS IN THE POINT ZONE
We have five different traps we can execute in the point zone.
- We will trap all baseline drives (diagr. 39).
- On a call from the bench, we can trap a short pass to the corner (diagr. 40).
- On a call from the bench, we can trap the low post (diagr. 41).
- On a call from the bench, we can trap the first pass to the wing (diagr. 42).
- On a call from the bench, we can trap a corner pass versus a bob (diagr. 43).
In all of our traps in the midcourt we will have two trappers, two interceptors and one goaltender/flyer. If we do not get a steal or deflection out of our trap, we are still able to stay in our zone.