Zone Defense? That Would Be A No

Roy Williams said during his radio show on Monday night that it will be a cold day in hell before his teams play a zone.  Well not really, actually he said this:

You’ve got to coach what you’re comfortable with, and I’m fairly competitive and I like being aggressive. For me, getting after people is the best way for our team to win and playing pressure man-to-man is the best way for our team to win and it’s what I’m the most comfortable with and it’s what I feel that we coach the best and it’s what we recruit to. I don’t like playing zone, but yet we play it sometimes…

I think it’s the best for us and I think it’s the best for the kids. If you go back and stand in a 2-3 zone and put your hands up like a scarecrow, it never tells those people in the NBA if those guys can slide their feet… I feel that my job is to win as many games as I can possibly win, and secondly to try to get these guys prepared to be able to play basketball after college if they’re good enough. The biggest reason is that I just hate zone – can’t coach it, don’t like it and we ain’t going to play it.

The standard “Roy is a HOF coach with an 80% winning percentage and I am not” disclaimer is in effect.

I do not really disagree with him since he did not take it completely off the table.  We tend to see the zone pop up when foul trouble and fatigue are an issue, especially for Ty Lawson.  I doubt he would be inclined to use it because of something the other team is doing on offense.  And if he is not comfortable coaching it, then it might be more trouble than it’s worth if the players cannot be properly coached on how to execute it not to mention the implications it could have on the transition game.  I will say that not wanting to use it because it does not allow the players showcase defensive skills for the next level is weak tea.  I know Roy feels he needs to prep them for the next level but I question how much weight is given to their ability or inability to play defense.  Offensive skills, quickness, size, length and athleticism tend to be a bigger deal to NBA scouts than how they play defense. And it was pretty clear the last time I watched an NBA game, defense was not really a premium.

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15 Responses to Zone Defense? That Would Be A No

  1. […] Heel fan noticed that the zone is not likely to become a regular option for us. Upping the pressure seems most […]

  2. Triadboy says:

    Roy should split a bottle of Merlot with Dean and create a hybrid Man-Zone defense to trip up opponents in critical situations. (Carolina Mone Defense)

  3. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Could go triangle and two with someone like Thompson as the point of the triangle cutting off entry angles with the two guards chasing on the perimeter.

    Then again I am not an Xs and Os guy so what I just said may be complete hogwash.

    I do remember the defense FSU used in the 1993 comeback game during the first half was a box and one with the one guy chasing Donald Williams around. Since UNC did not have reliable three point shooters besides Williams they basically packed a four man zone and guarded the three at the same time with he chaser.

  4. e22 says:

    Still a “scramble” guy for this team.

  5. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Of course I am not sure you can expect to change the scheme too much now. If it has been half a season and they still do not get it or we are simply talking about effort then shifting to something new is not going to fix it, might make it worse actually.

  6. chuckheel says:

    I think everyone is making a mountain out of a molehill with the defense. Carolina was on the brink of a loss the last couple of games, but still pulled out wins. Roy’s points on defense will be a lot easier grasped now that an “L” has been earned. I expect Carolina to come out smoking tonight on D, and expect a similar outcome to the NCSU game. I also think D will be a huge emphasis over the break, and when they come back next Thursday, expect an extremely focused team. Yes, I think Ol’ Roy knows what he is doing.

  7. william says:

    I don’t know if I agree with you about the NBA. I do agree that they tend to sweat defensive lapses on individual plays less, since the game is longer and faster. But here in D.C., defense is a huge issue and the Washington Post ran a long article today on the Wizards defensive improvement, touting that as the reason for their taking down the Celtics twice in a week.

    Furthermore, there have been several Carolina guys of highly questionable offensive talents who have played in the NBA because of their defensive skills: Dudley Bradley and David Noel come to mind.

    I also think that certain coaches (Bob Knight and Roy, and Dean and K to a lesser extent) almost view playing zone as, if not cheating, then at least not playing real basketball. This is one reason why Dean did not mind using the Four Corners so much; he never could understand why the media didn’t criticize the opponents for failing to push the game defensively.

    Overall, Roy is right. He is running a system. When you run a system, you realize that it might not work as well some years as others,

    But why do you think Carolina gets so so many impressive recruits? It is because they know Roy is going to play up-tempo ball, both offensively and defensively. Why does Carolina get so many meaningful bench players? Because they know that they are going to be featured on the media guide and start the last game as seniors, regardless of how important that game might be.

    Finally, as part of this, I believe Roy is following the same example as the Brazilian National Soccer team. In Brazilian soccer, unlike in Italy, winning is not enough. Yes, they win more than any other national side, but you also have to look good doing it. Standing around like “scarecrow” or running the Herb Sendek offense can often be effective, but it is no fun to watch.

  8. Tar Heel alum and fan says:

    I’ve often wondered if an up-tempo offensive attack can drain the defensive side of effort and intensity. An analogy might be to the instant offenses of the Buffalo Bills under Jim Kelly or the Colts under Peyton Manning. The offensive is on the field so short a duration as a rule the defensive team rarely gets enough rest. And it might be worse in basketball, with the same players, trying to run on offense and then have to both hustle and remain patient as the opponent slows down their offense to reduce possessions. Of course if Roy’s scheme is clicking, the defense creates turnovers and the uptempo attack excels. But then Clemson, Tech and Maryland seemed content to run with UNC to an extent so maybe there is something the other coaches are picking up on.

  9. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I actually think the up-tempo offense is a part of the defense if we can wear the other team down it means they don’t have the legs to shoot threes or rebound on the offensive end. Regardless of the depth i.e. losing Frasor, I still think our guys are in shape enough and psychologically prepared to handle the pace while other teams might not be.

  10. Josh Bowling says:

    Maybe we should keep on keepin’ on so to speak. After all, we are 1 game shy of undefeated. As the season becomes longsuffering, that is when our style should manifest itself in the utmost. As teams grow weary of the hectic game schedule, we should continue to do what we do best, run. The only time I don’t want us to run is when we are in the ncaa sweet sixteen & beyond, and we have a 10 point lead with 5 minutes left. You can play 34 second shot clock 4 corners and that would be fine with me. Then the “have to foul” mode should kick in.

  11. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Josh,

    I agree with slowing things down to kill the clock but that is also a two edged sword meaning you should not be afraid to stay aggressive and take points if you they are there. In other words, if you have a high percentage shot early in the shot clock take it otherwise you might as well work the ball a little and shoot later in the possession.

  12. Josh Bowling says:

    THF, I do believe that you remember Danny Green crossing the half court mark and shooting that 3, while taking no time off of the clock. I am not convinced that you are left with a bad shot just because you may take it with under 10 to shoot. Hell, I believe such a shot may be better than the ones we took in that point in the game. However, I do agree that you should take an early shot if it is a high percentage one, or one with a rediculously good look. I have the perception that those shots we took weren’t of that kind. Correct me if I am wrong.

    Thanks!

  13. Josh Bowling says:

    THF, I believe you may have articulated what I said better than I did. Good job!

  14. Chris says:

    Roy says that he prefers and coaches a pressure type man to man, but in no way yet have we seen anything that comes close to that so far. I would call it a lazy man to man. No traps, no steals, no intensity. In that situation a well played 2-3 zone, especially if outmanned underneath can be quite effective. A 2-3 well played can apply as much pressure as man to man but it has to be done right. If Roy doesn’t know how to coach it, then I guess he’ll have to stick to what so far has been non pressure, non trapping, low intensity man to man. Doug Moe and the Denver Nuggets proved years ago that concentrating on just outscoring the other team is not a good strategy.

  15. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I think if they can find the intensity they will be fine. Question is does this group possess the personality to do that. Also, I recall more trapping last season. Wonder why that is not happening more?

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