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View Full Version : Coaching question: why abandon the 2-3??; other observations



CDC84
12-09-2012, 04:39 PM
Early on in the Illinois game the Zags came out in an extended 2-3 zone defense. When I mean extended, I mean extended. It was out to the 3 point line. I thought it was a brilliant strategy, but Few jettisoned it without reason and never returned to it no matter how times the Zags got beat off the bounce throughout the rest of the game.

Anyone have any idea why that defense was abandoned and never returned to??

The Zags are going to have to develop and refine a defense like that because Kevin Pangos, at this stage is his career, just cannot defend the ball.

Like many others, I was confused as to why GU felt the need to huck up so many three pointers in the 2nd half when it was plainly obvious that the Illini couldn't handle Harris and Olynyk around the hoop.

As I have been saying, if Pangos is bottled up, Gary Bell Jr. must step up. Well, he didn't. 3-9 shooting and 1-6 from 3 point land. His defense has been poor the past two games as well, which shouldn't be the case with him.

I know this seems nuts, but personally I could have lived with Brandon Paul putting up the numbers he did last night. Keep in mind, he put up 40+ against Ohio State last season. The Buckeyes last year had Aaron Craft and the best defense in the nation. When that kid gets going, no one, I mean no one can stop him. What killed the Zags was their inability to handle DJ Richardson, Tracy Abrams, and Joseph Bertrand.

I see the future, and I see more minutes for Kyle Dranginis. Especially if GLE keeps turning the ball over like crazy. I continue to support the idea of using Mike Hart as a energy guy coming off the bench.

Despite the poor performance last night, the Zags are still 9-1. Kansas State is 7-1, but their wins have come against sister of the poor schools. Michigan easily handled them. The Zags need to win this game and handle Campbell. It would be nice to get 1 of 2 against Baylor/Oklahoma State. Those two teams just don't have the assortment of guards that the Illini have that can kill the Zags off the bounce. They perhaps won't have to cover for Pangos as much. I would imagine Few will stick Bell on Pierre Jackson (who is only 5-11, but really good) and Marcus Smart. It won't be easy, but those two teams are constructed a bit differently than Illinois. But first things first....finals and then Kansas State.

john montana
12-09-2012, 04:48 PM
Funny you mention the zone...I was screaming for it throughout the 2nd half. It was pretty obvious that we couldn't keep their guards in front of us. With our length a zone doesn't have to be a defense that gives up wide open threes. We should be able to push to the perimeter. It worked at the start of the game and then was gone like you mentioned CDC.

Oregonzagnut
12-09-2012, 05:33 PM
Funny you mention the zone...I was screaming for it throughout the 2nd half. It was pretty obvious that we couldn't keep their guards in front of us. With our length a zone doesn't have to be a defense that gives up wide open threes. We should be able to push to the perimeter. It worked at the start of the game and then was gone like you mentioned CDC.

It also corresponds to when we lost that lead. I think Few attributes certain TO's or break downs as "That isn't going to work". Like when Karno fouled and Few pulled him. Karno got totally baited to foul because of his speed, but don't pull Karno because he is slower. Look at the overall gains.

The 2-3 was clearly what would have helped. Especially if we extended it 1-2 ft frther out. Plus IMO, if Edi and even Harris could play the 3, :horse: then Karno or Harris/Kelly can hold the lanes closed with ease. we needed that extra pressure on the perimeter ball movement even if we did give up a few driving scores. If we were in their grill more in the first half, we might have disrupted them a lot more.

ZagLawGrad
12-09-2012, 05:48 PM
OZN----it really was just one game. Few didn't get this program to where it is without some savvy and know how, and he's got a pretty good set of qualified assistants to go with his experience and qualifications.

Appreciate the passion, but suggest a deep breath and stepping back for a day or two. You appear to need it (no negativity intended).

cggonzaga
12-09-2012, 05:52 PM
Not sure what you guys against the zone because I saw numerous wide open 3 attempts. They weren't falling early but when they started to Few got out of it. Now the man didn't work either but what I didn't understand was why we were so easily letting Paul get the ball? Put Edi and/or Hart on him and don't let him get the freaking ball!!!

CDC84
12-09-2012, 05:53 PM
That extended 2-3 zone was only used for a few possessions. It wasn't the typical Gonzaga zone, but a zone designed to take away the 3 point shot. I don't recall it being exploited, but I will admit to having destroyed the game tape so I cannot go back to check. I wrote down, though, how it was quickly dropped for some mysterious reason. I usuallly wouldn't do such a thing if the defense was being abused. I recall what got abused was some of the trapping GU was doing before they settled into the zone. Regardless, I still feel it should've been revisited once it was established that GU had no ability to contain the bounce.

BTB
12-09-2012, 06:03 PM
Not sure what you guys against the zone because I saw numerous wide open 3 attempts. They weren't falling early but when they started to Few got out of it. Now the man didn't work either but what I didn't understand was why we were so easily letting Paul get the ball? Put Edi and/or Hart on him and don't let him get the freaking ball!!!

I saw the same thing, the first few possessions the zone looked great and then they figured it out and were getting open looks. I still think it would have been better to keep forcing them to knock down threes rather than to get beat by penetration.

Reborn
12-09-2012, 06:05 PM
CDC I agree 100% with everything you said. Wish you would have included Stockton in your analysis. Is he somehow protected from any negative feedback???? Just wondering. How do you like that 3 guard offense....illinois ran a 4 guard offense, with a 6-4, guard, a 6'6" guard, and a 6'4 guard. And Abrams who's 6'0" I think. These guys played the last 4 or 5 minutes of the game when Gonzaga began to start shooting 3's so we never tood advantage of fouling out their two post playerss.

I will say this now, and I've said it every year, Mark Few and his staff are horrible coaches during a game. Sometimes I wonder if Mark Few has a game plan in his mind and he just sticks to it no matter what he sees. It was obvious that the Zags could not defend Illinois off the dribble. I completely believe we did not get beat by the 3 point shot. They only made their season average. They beat us by scoring in the paint off the dribble drive. They shot 50 % from the field, not because of shooting 3's but because we could not defend them one on one. OH! And it wasn't because they were scoring by throwing the ball into their post players and they were scoring. No. Their post player scored 10 points including their sub. We scored 40 points by our post players. Yet when the game was on the line we didn't throw it in to them. One time in the last 3 and a half minutes. And Olynyk I think was shocked and missed a layup.

SteelZag
12-09-2012, 07:13 PM
These posts cover just about everything. The Zags are quick to abandon something that is working well and reluctant to change something that isn't working at all. I would just like this to change.

Oregonzagnut
12-09-2012, 08:09 PM
These posts cover just about everything. The Zags are quick to abandon something that is working well and reluctant to change something that isn't working at all. I would just like this to change.

I agree in part, but I see it as Few has committed to a certain formula that has gotten us where we are. But that philosophy and game execution does not usually work against the most elite teams from the type of game they play in the power conferences. Part of that is because we do not get the same caliber of players that take these teams to the FF. But Few also is not comfortable with risk. He is ultra conservative and it usually works. He probably has abandoned his strict regimen before, but he didn't get the results and now he sees any change in his mind as an unacceptable risk.

But he did change, and abruptly, because the first 8 games we won by an average of 20+ points running a full 10 man rotation, and utilizing the frontcourt to its full potential with Karno getting 15+ points a game. Yes he had struggles but the overall system won big. We handled Davidson, Clemson and OK and yet we changed our entire game plan for WSU? WHAT? Then kept it for IU? Makes no sense to me and if anyone disagrees, please explain. especially when the entire world AND the IU fans told us what we need to do to win. PLUS they told us what THEY needed to do to win. and they went right a head and did it. "They were what we thought they were." Tthat is what disappoints me is he changed the winning formula IMO.

Few is stubborn and it is usually good. But you have to know when to change. I think he is doing it slower because he is as conservative as it gets.

ValencyLovesZagsInAtlanta
12-09-2012, 08:27 PM
That extended 2-3 zone was only used for a few possessions. It wasn't the typical Gonzaga zone, but a zone designed to take away the 3 point shot. I don't recall it being exploited, but I will admit to having destroyed the game tape so I cannot go back to check. I wrote down, though, how it was quickly dropped for some mysterious reason. I usuallly wouldn't do such a thing if the defense was being abused. I recall what got abused was some of the trapping GU was doing before they settled into the zone. Regardless, I still feel it should've been revisited once it was established that GU had no ability to contain the bounce.

a 2-3 zone by its very nature is designed to prevent penetration. That leaves the perimeter for Illinois as its most accessible weapon. Considering Illinois well earned reputation as 3 point snipers do you think playing in a 2-3 is the best move still? 2-3 zones also slow the tempo of the game with repeated passing by opposing guards running down the shot clock quite a bit. Zags would prefer more up tempo game especially in the Kennel. Zags needed to "Junk" it up defensively to break the rhythm shooters.

The 2-3 is the weakest defense statistically defending the 3. You can't be critical of Few not playing that card. Agree? :)

Val

ValencyLovesZagsInAtlanta
12-09-2012, 09:17 PM
as our only "out" to make it work and we would have to take a page out of the Rick Pitino playbook. That is very high risk with our personnel. Who is going to call the triggers to switch to man out of the 2-3 to protect against the 3? The bottom middle of the 2-3 needs to call the switch right? If our defensive players don't select the correct man to switch to usually the side of the zone that is opposite of a double team it is gonna result in an either an easy basket if the top of the zone makes the mistake or a wide open 3 when the bottom of the zone makes the mistake.

For the match up 2-3 to work we need a center that can communicate the switch. Kelly? PK? E? Someone needs to communicate for it to work.

My point is we can't stay in a basic 2-3 or we run the risk of getting seriously lit up against the Paul's of the world and getting beat. Great coaches adjust.

Vxo :)

Malastein
12-10-2012, 12:54 AM
This team has had a few challenges up to the Illinois game, but the upper tier talent was more than this relatively young team could handle. Bell and Pangos are only second year guards, and Olynyk hasn't had much game experience as a post after taking a year off from real games.

What I see with Bell and defense is that he must miss having Sacre behind him more than any other player. The help defense was a major question mark for me coming into the season, and it appears to be a glaring weakness still. None of the bigs have shown the defensive acumen and ability which is needed to protect a lineup with small guards.

The Zags will win a lot of games this year, but will they be able to overcome these flaws for a deep run in March? They look like a sweet sixteen team with a lucky draw chance at a final four. If they round out some edges then perhaps they could do something special.

john montana
12-10-2012, 06:20 AM
Common misconception is that a zone "gives up" open looks at three. Most of the time when a team plays zone, they are using the zone to clog the middle, prevent post play and penetration, so they leave the outside wide open...but that isn't because of the zone...its because of the way the zone is played. I saw the same thing CDC saw, an extended zone that pushed out past the three point line and dared IL to throw the ball into the 8-15 foot area.

cjm720
12-10-2012, 06:42 AM
We would have won if we went down low. Don't get why we didn't set plays for Harris and KO.

rennis
12-10-2012, 07:19 AM
We would have won if we went down low. Don't get why we didn't set plays for Harris and KO.

yes.

and the biggest problem here was getting the ball IN to the bigs, which was what killed us. Illinois locked-down the passing lanes, turned over the guards, and had a field day because of it.

This was the biggest problem, not the half court defenses.

That said, Zags were lucky Griffey was ice cold. If that guy had been hot, wow, it would have been ugly.

Reborn
12-10-2012, 08:21 AM
I also think that one thing that hurt the Zags was that they were not getting the offensive charging calls on penetrating guards that they normally get. I think these officials were from the Big 10. I know that several of those calls that went aginst the Zags would have been called on Illinois guards with different refs. I believe that part of the defensive scheme does include allowing players to penetrate so we can draw the offensive foul. Mike Hart is excellent at getting charges and I think that in this game he did not get those calls which limited what he does best. Mike Hart is Mr Hustle, and I also know that refs called two falls on Mike for hustling when other refs have given the calls to Mike. In ways the refs made Mike Hart an average player. Where the truth is he is Mr Hustle and is a great part of the energy on the Zag team. Referee's to have an impact on how the game is played, and these refs were not giving Gonzaga the benefit for some good tough hustling plays. The biggest play of the game was when Paul drove to the basket and Kelly tried to get the offensive call on Paul. It turned out that Kelly got the foul and Paul got the 3 pt play and the game.

Missed Free Throws in the last third part of the game also hurt the Zags. We missed four and made 4, and one that was missed was a one and one. Something needs to be done about foul shooting. The Zags did shoot much better from the foul line, but NOT at the end of the game.

adoptedzag
12-10-2012, 09:54 AM
The high-low from KO to PK looked good, keep the ball high and its hard to deny that entry. It worked brilliantly and I would have liked to see us use it more. As people continue to realize that if you stop the entry pass we're a very beatable team they're just going to clog the lanes. We have to either A) Heat up from outside or B) find new and creative ways to get the ball into the paint to counteract the congestion. And for the love of all that is holy DO NOT BRING THE BALL DOWN! :D

Zagcity
12-10-2012, 05:55 PM
If i'm not mistaken a 3-2 not 2-3 zone was used which is made to defend the outside shot. CDC84 I'm in your camp was wondering the same thing :fingergun:

ZagLawGrad
12-10-2012, 06:14 PM
We would have won if we went down low. Don't get why we didn't set plays for Harris and KO.

Zags weren't winning this game. Blowing that 11 point lead was the end.

GeorgiaZagFan
12-11-2012, 07:56 PM
yes.

Illinois locked-down the passing lanes, turned over the guards, and had a field day because of it.

.

Not true. 16 TO's for the game ..only 3 by the guards. The passing lanes were there when the offense was executed ...the Big's needed to be stronger with the ball at times ...I remember many times that a help defender would come off their man and rake their hands down to strip the ball ...I thought many were fouls but the refs did not call them. Abrams should have had 3 or 4 at least ...only had ONE!!!!

Zag79
12-15-2012, 12:59 AM
Kelly was credited with 6 to's, but at least three came from terrible passes into the post from the gaurds. You can't skip the ball a foot off of the gourd and expect a 7 footer to get it, even with good hands. We also tried to force feed it too many times, when the bigs (especially KO) were being doubled. Hard to catch a ball with four arms and hands in your way. :D But back to the original topic, CDC hit the nail on the head. Stick with what works and don't be so quickti change certain things. I think that affected us in both the Illinois AND the WSU game, it just so happened we pulled out the W against a lesser team and lost to the good one.

bballbeachbum
12-15-2012, 10:02 AM
Kelly was credited with 6 to's, but at least three came from terrible passes into the post from the gaurds. You can't skip the ball a foot off of the gourd and expect a 7 footer to get it, even with good hands. We also tried to force feed it too many times, when the bigs (especially KO) were being doubled. Hard to catch a ball with four arms and hands in your way. :D

hey Zag79, you know I respect you tremendously here, but the force feed turnovers to the post were a direct result of trying to do what you and others are all saying would have won the game--feed of the post!

just doesn't add up to me, sorry. The Zags HAD to loosen that D up by making a couple of open shots, punish the Illini D for doubling and scambling on our bigs. They didn't.


Few's comments about this game were designed to keep the pressure off of his guards who struggled, my opinion. He blamed himself, classic coaching move

bballbeachbum
12-15-2012, 10:10 AM
re. the zone, it seems more like an effective changeup, and that the Zags are most effective defensively when they mix it up and switch defenses so far this year, inlcuding pressure packages and not just locking in on one defense; that zone has been picked apart too so I'm not convinced that it would have been the answer late. Maybe. But it's not like it's been some dominant defense this year, more like a defense in which to hide David, my opinion

however, unless the M2M weakside and on ball D gets better vs. the pick and roll, perhaps the zone will have to be used more against teams that use that play effectively (many teams)

SteelZag
12-15-2012, 10:28 AM
Was just watching part of the game. The part where Paul made his three point shot off the glass and the possession before. He was being guarded by David and I really have to ask, if he is our best choice for guarding a team's leading perimeter player and at the time, the hottest player, this could be a long season. I can only conclude that the Zags were content with letting Paul get his points while trying to shut down the rest of the offense.

gamagin
12-15-2012, 11:02 AM
Was just watching part of the game. The part where Paul made his three point shot off the glass and the possession before. He was being guarded by David and I really have to ask, if he is our best choice for guarding a team's leading perimeter player and at the time, the hottest player, this could be a long season. I can only conclude that the Zags were content with letting Paul get his points while trying to shut down the rest of the offense.

play (admittedly only one time) was Paul made a circus shot from deep center field that bounced hard off the backboard and went in. I don't believe he shot for the backboard. Do you ?

I also believe Illini set up the mismatch. There were others efforts at creating mismatches, too.

In any event, that shot was predestined, imo, like several others Paul took against us. He was in the zone.

Sometimes he was left wide open and sometimes KO & even EH & GLE were either nearby or flying at him within a fingernail of possibly stopping him. It didn't seem to matter.

To take that one shot, isolate it, and suggest the setup was a choice (I guess by the coaches) is, imo, to miss what happened in the course of the game. Paul took everyone (listed above, plus GBj & KP) who tried to guard him to school.

Fwiw, DS is able to dunk. That means to me he is able to get far enough into the air to put a hand up against any guard in the nation, including Paul.

But first, like every other Zag, he has to get & stay close enough to his opposing guard to be effectively disruptive. They all sag into the middle too much.

Which is a legit beef from Few and everyone else lamenting the lack of three pt defense, imo.

Bogozags
12-15-2012, 04:24 PM
play (admittedly only one time) was Paul made a circus shot from deep center field that bounced hard off the backboard and went in. I don't believe he shot for the backboard. Do you ?

I also believe Illini set up the mismatch. There were others efforts at creating mismatches, too.

In any event, that shot was predestined, imo, like several others Paul took against us. He was in the zone.

Sometimes he was left wide open and sometimes KO & even EH & GLE were either nearby or flying at him within a fingernail of possibly stopping him. It didn't seem to matter.

To take that one shot, isolate it, and suggest the setup was a choice (I guess by the coaches) is, imo, to miss what happened in the course of the game. Paul took everyone (listed above, plus GBj & KP) who tried to guard him to school.

Fwiw, DS is able to dunk. That means to me he is able to get far enough into the air to put a hand up against any guard in the nation, including Paul.

But first, like every other Zag, he has to get & stay close enough to his opposing guard to be effectively disruptive. They all sag into the middle too much.

Which is a legit beef from Few and everyone else lamenting the lack of three pt defense, imo.

Really good points...

Illinois designed the perfect system for Paul and on that night he was unstoppable and it wouldn't matter who was guarding him...Draymond Green was another one in the zone last year.

After that game, I would of made one strong recommendation to Paul and that was to go down and play the lotto, because he would of surely won!

One more thing as Coach Few said, you were watching an NBA player and Draymond was also a future NBA player as he is with the Warriors.

Don't know if we run into any more players of that caliber this month but I sure hope not!

I'm hoping that tonight, we have a better game against KSU that we had last Saturday...

Zag79
12-15-2012, 11:46 PM
hey Zag79, you know I respect you tremendously here, but the force feed turnovers to the post were a direct result of trying to do what you and others are all saying would have won the game--feed of the post!

just doesn't add up to me, sorry. The Zags HAD to loosen that D up by making a couple of open shots, punish the Illini D for doubling and scambling on our bigs. They didn't.


Few's comments about this game were designed to keep the pressure off of his guards who struggled, my opinion. He blamed himself, classic coaching move

Feeding the post more is what I wanted them to do, just not necessarily when they did. Pull up from three when they sag instead of passing it in, and pass it when they are on you instead of chucking threes. Same concept, but many points of the game that could change the outcome. And I thanks bballebachbum, I respect you too!