Mike Krzyzewski Duke Blue Devils Zone Lob Play by Adam Spinella
Coach K has done a fantastic job with this young Duke Blue Devils squad, preparing them to play against all types of teams. They’ve beaten slow-down teams like San Diego State and up-tempo teams like Gonzaga in this NCAA Tournament by playing at their own past and imposing their will on the game. A lot of that revolves around the great presence of freshman big Jahlil Okafor, particularly at the offensive end.
In particular, the Duke Blue Devils punish teams that zone them. In the first round they faced some zone from Robert Morris, and they went after it early in the game with a great lob from a baseline out-of-bounds situation.
In a 1-4 High formation with the point guard 1 taking the ball, the Duke Blue Devils force the 2-3 zone to align to them in this formation. What well-coached teams that play a lot of zone will know is that in a 2-3 zone, the weak spot from a baseline inbound scenario is the corners. The low men on the defense (shown in red) are x4 and x3; they are always watching for the corners and not wanting to allow a quick catch-and-shoot.
2 darts for the corner opposite of the inbounder, which sucks x3 away from the middle. 3 stays on his wing in a spot that forces both x2 and x4 to pay attention to him. 4 then darts down the middle and sets a screen right on the back of x5, who is protecting the rim from any bounce passes in the painted area. That back screen on x5 allows 5, who is Okafor, to roll to the rim unimpeded for a lob.
Here is a video of the play at work in the first round of the tournament. Watch how quickly the lane opens up for Okafor.
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