Rules For All Blazers Players To Follow
Our Strategy for attacking a zone defense is based on a few basic points of emphasis. With all the adjustments and differences in zone defenses today, we feel that utilizing these keys is essential for a consistent offense. Regardless of what specific offensive set we run, these basic concepts will help us attack the zone effectively.

Penetration- Dribble penetration is an effective way of drawing two defenders to the ball. This sets up a 4-on-3 advantage for the rest of the offense. If players spot up on the perimeter and post up hard inside, they can get good looks at the basket.
Set Picks- Zone defenders generally have their eyes on the ball but not necessarily on a man. This leaves them vulnerable to blind-side picks.
Utilize Skip Passes- Skip or cross-court passes give the offense more options and are essential in attacking the weak side of a zone.
Attack Inside, Then Out- Look to get the ball inside first. This will cause the defense to collapse, thereby opening up the perimeter.
Crash the Boards- One of the primary weaknesses of a zone defense is the confusion on box-out assignments. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS! Many rebounds fall on the side opposite the shot. Concentrate on the weak side!
Keep It Simple- Execution is the key. It isn't what you run so much as how you run it. Know your options and how to execute them.
Use the 3 Point Shot- When spotting up for a shot near the 3 point line, be behind it. Remember, 33% from 3 = 50% from 2. Don't ignore this weapon. Also, longer shots create longer rebounds and more second shot opportunities.
Read the Defense- If there is pressure on the perimeter, attack inside- and vice-versa.
Use Ball Fakes- Fakes can cause a zone to shift. Fake one way, then pass the other.
Be Patient- Good ball movement, screening, and dribble penetration will eventually cause a zone to break down and give up an easy basket. Be patient and shots will come.

The 3 Out, 2 In Freelance Offense

Against any type of zone defense, we run a "3 Out, 2 In Freelance Offense". By using the "Freelance" we are able to stay with the same offense no matter what type of zone our opponent throw at us. We make adjustments in the areas we try to attack depending on the zone, but we stay with the same basic principles. The "3 Out, 2 In" refers to the 3 players we use on the perimeter and the 2 big men who work inside. All 3 perimeter players are interchangeable. Our 2 post men can also replace each other. The perimeter and inside players each have separate sets of rules they must follow.

Our two inside players work primarily in a area approximately the shape and size of the International foul lane. On occasion we will pop a big man out on the perimeter to reverse the ball or to take an open jump shot, but most of the time we stay inside. The perimeter players stay outside of the shaded area except for drives or cuts through the lane.

Rules for the Big Men

In order to add some structure and keep things organized we have these following rules for our big men.

1. Keep Good Spacing. Stay 10-15 feet apart to prevent one defender from guarding both players.

2. Look to Score. When they catch the ball inside, their first option is to score. If they are scoring threats, it will cause defenses to collapse around them, creating openings on the perimeter.

3. Work to Get the Ball. It is important for them to work hard to get the ball. Flash to opening, seal the defenders and remain active. NEVER STAND!

4. Cut to the Basket. Whenever one post man catches the ball, the other should cut to the basket. This puts him in good rebounding position if the shot is taken and he may be open for lay-ups if the defense double-teams the post.

5. Screen for the Weak Side Perimeter Man. This can free the perimeter man for an open jump shot. Or, if the defender slips the screen, the post meets the next defender in the middle of the lane and seals him on his back in order to receive the ball inside.

by Kevin O'Neill

Rules for Blazers Perimeter Players to Follow
We have a separate set of rules for our perimeter players to follow. These are:

1. Penetrate the Gaps. This will bring
2 defenders together, creating a 4-on-3 advantage or the other offensive players.

2. Keep Spacing. Player should stay at least 15 feet apart. If one perimeter players drive toward another, he should flare away and spot up on the perimeter.

3. Slides the Perimeter. Whenever the ball is passed inside, the perimeter players should slide around the outside looking for open areas to spot up.

4. Rebound. The weak side perimeter man should crash the boards hard after every shot. In the past, we have assigned one specific perimeter player to go to the boards while the other two get back on defense, but this should only be done if one players is clearly a superior rebounder.
These sets of rules and objectives help to add structure but they don't restrict the players from using their creativity.

Areas to Attack a Zone

Whatever zone a team players, the weaknesses are always in the seams and in the gray areas. By seams we mean the area between the defenders. When we refer to the gray areas, we're talking about the areas on the perimeter in which it is difficult to determine which defender should guard the ball.

Attacking the Gray Areas

By catching the ball in the gray areas, we create several problems for the defense. There will be an instant of confusion as to whose responsibility the man is. Sometimes both defenders will pick him up. This means that someone is open. Other times, both defenders will stand back and watch, leaving an open shot.

If they communicate well and one defender picks up the ball, the offensive player should take one or two dribbles away from that defender's area in order to distort the zone and create opening. For example if 3 is picked up by the high defender after the catch, he would drive toward the baseline.

If the defense tries to switch defenders, they must bring two defenders to the ball momentarily. With proper spacing and good passing, the defense is very vulnerable at this time.

by Kevin O'Neill

Attacking the Seams
There are two ways in which to attack the seams. The big men can flash into the seams to receive the ball or the perimeter men may penetrate into the seams. When the big men flash to the seams, they should try to go behind the line of vision of the defenders. By doing this, it will keep the defense from closing the gap. When a perimeter man penetrates into the seams, he should look to score if the seam doesn't close. If the seam does close, there will be a 4-on-3 advantage on the rest of the court, so he should hit the open man.

by Kevin O'Neill

The Blazers' Corner Play
If the offense becomes stagnant, we run a play to force movement and screens. This is called the Corner Play.

The point guard should recognize when we are having difficulty. He then passes to the wing and calls, "Corner". This call signals for our closest big man to pop to the corner to receive the ball. The other wing and post go to the weak side block. After 3 passes to the corner, he posts up on the block and fills the spot that 4 vacated. 4 then passes out to 1.

Here is where we get the best action. The point guard drives the ball to the center of the floor. If the point guard isn't in a position to score, he looks for the 2 and 3 men who cross and are coming off simultaneous baseline screens. The point guard must see the whole floor and make the best decision. If the defender slips through the screen, the post player should step toward the ball and receive a pass to score.

If the point guard delivers the ball to one of the wing players but he is not open for a shot, the wing player drives away from the baseline. The post man pops to the corner and we are back into our play.

by Kevin O'Neill