Danger Zone

What is it about the zone defense that gives the Husky Men’s Basketball team so many damn problems?

Your typical 2-3 zone isn’t all that exotic. Might as well be the missionary position of basketball defenses. Boring, yet effective. And when it comes to the Dawgs, opposing teams are having great success (Borat voice) with standard coitus.

Last season, I wrote this article about Washington’s struggle with the 2-3 (note the title, Bailey Stenson). It served as a layman’s guide to the zone defense, explaining exactly what the Huskies were doing wrong and what they could do to improve. Apparently, no one affiliated with the team read my article. Thanks, jerks.

Absolutely nothing has changed from a year ago. At least where results are concerned.

So far this week, the Huskies have faced off against Washington State (Sunday) and Oregon State (Thursday). In each contest, the Dawgs saw a heavy dose of the 2-3. In each contest, the Dawgs also lost.

Expect the zone to become a trend. Teams will go zone against the Dawgs until the Dawgs prove they can defeat the zone. Zone all day, zone all night. (Call my bitches, ’cause wherever I go, y’all my bitches, east to the west coast, all my bitches…)

Google that parenthetical if you didn’t get the reference.

Anyway, this isn’t good. Bob Knight would probably play zone against these Huskies. That’s how bad it’s gotten.

You want to know the crazy part? The crazy part is, this year’s edition of the Huskies actually have the personnel to combat the zone. That’s what makes no sense. It would take a lunatic to go 2-3 against a team with this many shooters. You really want to give guys like Terrence Ross, Scott Suggs, C.J. Wilcox, Justin Holiday, Darnell Gant, and Isaiah Thomas wide-open looks at threes? Because that’s what opponents are doing by playing zone. And lo and behold, it still works out.

Here’s the thing. All those treys the Huskies’ shooters convert are meaningless if Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning are off. And everybody and their mama knows the best way to stop IT and MBA is with the zone. Here’s why.

If IT drives, you can collapse on him with a zone. This negates his lane to the hoop, as well as his kick-out passes to the perimeter. In essence, you force him to become a threat only from beyond the arc or on the occasional fast break. His attackability (not a real word, but sounds cool) is neutralized. His game: nullified.

MBA, on the other hand, is a zone defense’s wet dream. That man gets the ball in the post and does exactly what you’re NOT supposed to do with it as a big guy: he dribbles. For some odd reason, Bryan-Amaning fancies himself a ball-handler. He receives an entry pass and starts toying with the leather like he’s The Professor or something.

“Just go up with it!” you find yourself shouting at the TV. But alas, the 6’9″, 240-pound power forward does not go up with it. By the time he realizes that he can’t get a decent shot off, three-fifths of the defenders on the floor have smothered the Brit like batter on fish ‘n chips. Because MBA is a horrible passer (he is), the jig is almost up. It’s like the tail end of a Mortal Kombat fight. The words “FINISH HIM” should flash across the screen. Shortly thereafter, three future YMCA stalwarts combine on a forced turnover as the more-talented Bryan-Amaning is confunded (Harry Potter terminology) into bouncing the ball off his shoe. Sigh.

And so it goes for the Huskies.

Watching them struggle against a bread-and-butter defense is like watching a middle-aged man try to talk to a toddler in the grocery store checkout line. Just stop, dude. It’s awkward for all of us. Mostly, this poor kid.

Who knows. Maybe the Dawgs will turn their fortunes around the next time out. Maybe they’ll find a passer out of the high post (please, Darnell Gant, please). Maybe they’ll learn to set back picks in order to free up lob passes. Maybe they’ll stop attacking the middle of the zone off the dribble. Maybe they’ll learn to plug the gaps. Who freakin’ knows.

All I know is this. If the Huskies don’t figure it out soon, their season is as good as dead. Because every team in the country knows Washington’s weakness right now. And it’s as simple as a pair of numbers: 2-3.



3 thoughts on “Danger Zone”

  1. A couple key points

    1. “Just go up with it!” is the anti-“Turn and Shoot.” Jamaal needs to get back in MBA’s head like he did last year.

    2. Confunded is the perfect way of describing our offense right now.

  2. If you get it why doesn’t Romar get it? Or does he not communicate it to his players?? Or are the players not executing? If he knows less than you do we are in trouble.
    Btw what did Cal play against us for D bc that was an awesome game.

  3. I’ve had a chance to watch two of the three losses and I am dumbfounded at how passive they are against the zone. Like you said, they have the shooters to bust it but passing has not been crisp and they keep attacking the middle with dribble drives and that just clogs it up more for MBA, by the way, can we just start calling him “Business” instead of his initials?? Anyway, they need to draw action away from the post and set back picks to free up a skip pass or a lob. Business did a better job of getting involved in the game against Oregon than he did against Wazzu, didn’t see the OSU game, Comcast Sports Net here in Chicago aired Loyola versus Cleveland State or something. It seems to me that if Business gets going with easy dunks or layups early in the game, he is much more effective, if not, he kinda lags through and gets lazy. Shooters need to knock it down so the zone doesn’t collapse so much. They have the personnel, they just need to execute better or their tourney run, if they get there, will be short.

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