State Championship Game Defense -
The Rotating Diamond and One Zone Defense

During the 2010-2011 season, I was fortunate to be a varsity assistant for a very talented team at Blue Valley Northwest that made it to the 6A Kansas state championship game. As you may have read before, we faced a very talented team from Wichita Heights who had won the previous two state championships and was undefeated. For a non-prep school, they were loaded with talent. They have a top 25 recruit in Perry Ellis who committed to the University of Kansas. They had Evan Wessels who plays at Wichita State. They had a couple of underclassmen getting D-1 interest and a D-1 football player.

Even though, we were a man-to-man defense team 95% of the season, our head coach decided to run a junk defense against them to try to slow down their attack. It worked quite well, because we were tied with 3 minutes left and held Perry Ellis to season-lows on points (9) and shot attempts (5). However, we couldn't pull out the victory as their other players stepped up and we missed a few shots.

We ran a hybrid of Lute Olson's 1-1-3 zone defense and a box-and-one. For simplicity, we'll just call it the Rotating Diamond and One Defense, because that's what it looks like.

The only difference between Lute Olson's 1-1-3 zone defense is that we only have one player on the top of the zone. Bottom rotations are the same. The top defender's rotations are very similar as well.

Once you learn the rotations of the Lute Olson's 1-1-3 zone defense, it's so easy to do that you don't even have to practice it. We actually did this adjustment during the first half of the state championship game and had never run this adjustment before.

One defender fronts and never leaves the opposing team's best player. For us, this opposing player was Perry Ellis. Also, for simplicity reasons, we will not have the offensive player being boxed move or touch the ball.

Basic Set

x1 applies pressure on the basketball. x1 will not leave 1 until a pass is made.

Top Passes To Wing

1 passes to 2.

x3 applies a hard closeout to take away the shot.

x1 slides down to deny a pass into the high post via a post or a cut and help out on dribble penetration.

x4 slides to ball side. x4 will full front any offensive players on the block.

x2 slides towards the middle of the lane.

Top Dribbles To Wing

1 dribbles to wing.

When the guard dribbles from the top to the wing, x1 stays on the guard.

x3 slides over to the lane area.

x4 protects the basket and high post area.

x2 is ready to defend a pass to the corner.

Wing Passes To Top

2 passes to 1

x1 rotates over and defends 1.

x2, x3, x4 slide back to original positions.

1 passes to 3.

x2 takes away shot (hands high!) and forces ball to sideline or corner.

x4 slides over to take away any passes to the post and help on baseline drive.

x3 protects the basket.

x1 takes away entries to high post area.

Pass To The Corner

3 passes to 4.

x4 sprints to defend 4 and takes away the shot.

x2 sprints to protect the basket and weakside block.

x3 rotates over to defend the low post.

x1 drops a step to help.

Pass From The Corner To The Wing

4 passes to 3.

x1 defends the wing. The guard always takes the pass out of the corner to the wing.

x3 defends the low post and fronts if an offensive player is there.

x4 slides down to help.

x2 protects the basket and weakside.

Ball Is Dribbled Out Of Corner

4 dribbles out of the corner.

x3 stays with the ball until x1 slides over to defend the ball and calls him off.

x3 slides down to help.

Wing To Wing Skip Pass

3 passes to 2.

x2 defends wing.

x1 slides to ballside high post.

x3 fronts the low post.

x4 protects the basket and weakside.

Entry To High Post

2 passes to 4.

x1 defends 4. The guard collapses with active hands.

x2 slides down, but is still close enough to close out on the wing.

x4 protects the basket area.

x3 is positioned to closeout on a pass to the corner or wing.

Pass To Short Corner

2 passes to 4.

x2 and x4 trap the ball.

x3 slides over to protect the basket.

x1 drops down a couple of steps to defend any cutters.
Related Pages and Helpful Resources

Zone Defense Concepts & Tips
2-3 Zone Defense Basic Rotations
1-3-1 "Lob Pass" Zone Defense
Thoughts on Rebounding in the Zone

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


Most Likes First   Oldest First   Newest First

Brian says:
11/30/2015 at 11:47:21 PM

What if the offense uses a 2-1-2 allignment?


Coach Henry says:
12/7/2011 at 10:12:44 PM

We have used this defense before, we call it "13". its a good defense for a team with a good scoring guard and good post have to have a really good, quick athlete to full front the post.


Leave a Comment
Email (not published)
Four times one is equal to?  (Prevents Spam)
 Load New Question
Leave this Blank
    Check this box to receive an email notification when someone else comments on this page.