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1-3-1 Zone by Sergio Scariolo

1-3-1 Zone by Sergio Scariolo

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Published by Winston Brown
FIBA Assist Magazine Article by Sergio Scariolo
FIBA Assist Magazine Article by Sergio Scariolo

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Published by: Winston Brown on Jan 16, 2012
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 by Sergio Scariolo
1-3-1 Zone Defense
Sergio Scariolo began coaching in hishometown, Brescia, Italy, where he beganin 1985 as assistant coach of BasketBrescia (Serie A1). In 1987 he became as-sistant coach of Scavolini Pesaro (win-ning the 1988 title), before being promotedhead coach in 1989. In two seasons ashead coach, he won one Italian title (1990)becoming the youngest head coach win-ning the Italian title, and played a KoracCup final (1990) and an Euroclub Final Four(1991). In 1991 he moved to Desio, then in1993 he became head coach of FortitudoBologna, where he played one final. In1997 he moved to Tau Vitoria, where hewon the 1999 Spanish Cup and played a fi-nal. In 1999 he went to Real Madrid, wherehe won the 2000 title, then played a final in2001. In 2003 he became the head coach ofUnicaja Malaga, winning the 2005 Span-ish Cup and the 2006 title and bringing the team to the 2007 Euroleague Final Four.
In my career I’ve almost never used fullcourt zone press defense, and, although Ihave worked with 1-3-1 half court zone de-fense, I believe more in man-to-man de-fense with individual press. However, athigh basketball level, sending two defend-ers against the ball may create too muchspaces, and this is a delicate situation.The possibility of three-point shooting is animportant factor that forces us to calculatewell the risk that we’re going to take.Moreover, when the ball-possession rulechanged by passing from 30 seconds to 24seconds, on one hand it stimulates press-ing defenses, that will look for slowingdown offense in order to limit even more the opponents’ offensive time to shoot. On the other hand, it produces a more aggres-sive mentality in the offenses that have nomore much time, compromising therefore the possibility for the defense to press.To realize this kind of defense we must say that the players shall have some importantcharacteristics.
The 1-3-1 defense needs to have defend-ers with good body size. We can afford tohave a small player, but in this case ourdefender at the point of the zone, X1, mustbe very smart. However, if we have twosmall defenders on the court, a 1 and a 2,we will find great difficulties to get the re-bound against bigger opponents, becauseour 2 always will suffer mismatches. In thiscase we can also use a 3 and, even, a 4.The 3 and 4 must have good body size andbe athletic players, because they have theresponsibility to block out, almost always to the offensive post player on the weakside. The 5 must also be an athletic andaggressive player (diagr. 1).
Playing this defense we take risks. The team must have confidence and strongmentality in order to overcome situationsin where the opponents score easy bas-kets. This aspect is very important in thefirst defenses.
Let’s start from the concept that we do notwish that the offense get used to be al-ways double-teamed in the same situa- tions and in the same spots of the court.We must remember that when the ballgoes out the double-team, our defense willbe in trouble.We establish a rule to make the defensive task easier: when the offense have twoplayers in line before passing the halfcourt, we guess that they want to draw thedouble-team and change the ball side. For this reason we avoid to make the trap. If they are not lined, we do it.X1 must force the ball as much as possiblenear the sideline. We do not double-teambefore the point guard passes the midcourt line. As just as he passes the line, wejump to the trap. The trap has to be smart.The defender, who jumps to doubleteam-X4 or X3- goes out in a strong defensiveposition (low side-bottom, knees bent) sohe can defend the point guard, who’s drib-bling the ball, and with his arms high, over the shoulders, not with his hands down, toavoid any easy pass. X1 also brings up oneof his hands to steal the ball, touch it, ormake the pass harder (diagr. 2).The rest of the defenders do not set on thepassing lines. X2 tries to invite to pass theball in order then to touch it. On the weakside X4 sets in diagonal line with the ball.He must calculate the risk and keep oneeye on stealing the pass to 2 and the otherone on 4 which has not go behind his back.5 anticipates strongly the pass to the highpost, taking the contact with his forearm.We think it will be harder for 5 to make aback door cut behind our X5, athletic andaggressive player.If there are two point guards lined up, wedon’t trap high. X1 defends by faking in or-der to create doubts in the offense. He canfake and go back, fake and attack, anywaywithout double-teaming. His job is to avoidhorizontal direct passes. To do this, he putshis body on the passing line. He tries tomake the offense spend seconds. X3 andX4 set on the passing line with their armshigh, giving the idea that they are jumping to trap although they don’t.They fake, recover and boost the pass to the corner. X5 works for not letting the ballgo to the mid court. X2 always has to stayon the ballside, but never on the passingline, and he keeps an eye on stealing theball, if X3 or X4 manage to touch it. We onlyrisk at most to steal when we double- team.If the ball goes to the low corner, X3 or X4 trap with X2, who will come first and willhave the mission to cover the offensiveplayer with the ball until X3 or X4’s arrival.They will close the center with their feet(close the feet) taking a lot of space.The double team gives advantages when-ever it is possible to do it without fouls. Wewant to force a bad exit of the ball from the trap, with the four arms of the defenders,following up and down the ball. X5 setshimself a step outside the zone, between the ball and the basket. X1 does not antici-pate the pass back to 2 unless the teamwant to force the pass to 5. He closes thehigh post and then tries to steal the ballwhen it comes out. X3 checks the weakside from the baseline. If the ball goes to
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| 34 2008 | Fiba Assist MagazineCOACHES - defense
If the ball arrives to the corner, we double- team. If there’s no double-team, we defend the ball one-on-one, helping and recover-ing – only double teaming with the help of the court lines. Being the player with theball not in a good shooting range, we don’tneed to face him on defense. If he wants topenetrate, X1 first will stop him, taking him the mid lane, X5 second will guard him (di-agr. 5, 6 and 7).X5 is a very important defender in chargeof the penetrations along the borders oflane. I don’t want that the perimeter de-fender gives first helps to the penetrations.X5 helps and the other players set where the ball may go (diagr. 8).
X5 defends by anticipating until the three-point line. We don’t face the player until the ball arrives to a shooting spot. If theball goes to the corner, X5 goes down and the high post is covered by X1. If the high
 the other corner, unless he is short to getit, it’s better if he faces the ball one-on-one(diagr. 4). The movements have to be donewith the body on the passing line and thearms high.If the offense change the ballside, X3 goesout to search for it, unless the ball receiverhas a very high position. In this case X1would take him and X3 would go back to the corner on the passing line in order toavoid a direct pass.
Fiba Assist Magazine
| 34 2008 | P
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post cuts, the weak side defender will beresponsible to guard him.If the ball enters to the high post area, weguard him one-on-one. In this case, ourdefender at the point will not double team the high post. If the high post puts the ballon the floor, X1 will try to get the ball frombehind (diagr. 9, 10 and 11).The low post defender does not defendoutside the painted area. If this player gets the ball, X5 faces him one-on-one, with his teammates helping him, but not double- teaming. I think that against zone offense the opposite post players have more pass-ing than scoring mentality. I want the de-fenders on the perimeters to be very active(diagr. 12 and 13).There is an exception to this rule when ourdefender on the baseline, X2 (small), is theone who has to defend the low post. Hewill try to guard him in front, but if he doesnot manage to do it, we send X5 to double team and X1 will replace him on the highpost. There are not outside helps when wedo the trap, so the trap must be extremelyaggressive. (diagr. 14).If the opponents drive to the basket from the perimeter in one of the spots in whichwe do not want to double-teaming, we de-fend one-on-one and X5 must help. For thisreason X5 must be a dynamic and activeplayer (diagr. 15).
The blocking out is a very delicate issue,because it may happen that one of ourguards is forced to block out an offensivepost. To this point, there is a critical mo-ment for the defense when the ball goesout the double-team. If the opponentsshoot while the defense is catching up, wewill be in a bad situation for the defensiverebound (diagr. 16).
Four-on-four with no posts.
Correcting thepositions and working on the details of the two-on-one on the corner. Moving outsideuntil the shooting signal from the coachand block out how the players can. (diagr.17).
Same drill, but without two point guards to the backwards.
See the diagram number 18.
Playing with the four offensive outsideplayers against X5.
There’s no offensivepost. It is important to teach the defensive
high post how he has to run. The drill endswith a shot and the players run to the op-posite basket to play five-on-zero (diagr.19).
Five offensive players against X5.
Therecan be a 1 on 1 situation in the low post;otherwise, the offensive post passes theball out for a shot: X5 must block out theoffensive post (diagr. 20).
Six players on offense against the central
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| 34 2008 | Fiba Assist MagazineCOACHES - DEFENSE 
COACHES - defense

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