Pitt - Great Zone Play Used To Beat Syracuse's 2-3 Zone

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If you have a point guard who is a solid decision maker, this play can work at any level. I've seen it used by Pittsburgh against Syracuse's deadly 2-3 zone, and I've used it with 12 year olds as well.


Player 1 should be a good penetrator with the ability to hit the mid-range jump shot. Player 5 should be able to set a good screen. Player 4 should be able to score underneath the basket and Player 3 should be a good perimeter shooter.


  1. Player 2 will bring the ball up on the left side. (S)he makes the top guy of the zone commit to him/her.
  1. Once the defender commits, Player 2 passes to Player 1 who should've floated near the top of the key.

  2. As the pass is being thrown, Player 5 comes to set a screen on the outside guy on the top of the zone.
  • That's why it is important for Player 1 to slide over to the top of the key to set up the defensive player.
  1. Player 1 will dribble off the screen. If nobody steps up to guard him, (s)he will shoot the 12-15 foot jump shot.

  2. Soon as Player 1 starts to dribble Player 4 will cut underneath the hoop to the ball side and Player 3 will float to the corner.

  3. Player 2 cuts to the weakside to keep the defensive Player #3 honest.
  1. If the outside person on the bottom of the zone takes away Player 1's shot and the middle person takes away the pass to Player 4. Player 3 will be wide open for an outside shot.
  1. If the defensive player covers the outside shot and the middle guy of the zone covers Player 1, Player 4 should be open underneath the hoop.
Related Pages and Helpful Resources

Double - Zone Offense Play For 2-3 Zones, 3-2 Zones, and 1-3-1 Zones
Basketball Plays and The Art of Running Set Plays and Scoring More Points
Dynamic Zone Offense Plays Against Any Zone Defense
Zone Out of Bounds (Inbounds) Plays

Recommended Products:

Beating the Zone - 75 Set Plays to Score Against Zone Defense
In this eBook, you will find 75 zone plays that you can use against any zone defense. It includes 2-3 zone plays, 3-2 zone plays, 1-3-1 zone plays, baseline out of bounds plays, and multi-purpose zone plays. You will also learn how to exploit the weaknesses of zone defenses, learn new ideas for running zone plays, and much more ... (more info)

Download 32 of our favorite basketball plays

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


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Ed says:
2/22/2017 at 6:44:37 PM

I am a middle school girls coach. I like the play. However in middle school 5/6 level girls cannot play back court D so usually I find myself struggling because the 1,2 Defenders play at the half court line and the point guard struggles just trying to get the ball across half court. I am willing to give this a try, however the pick from the offensive 5 may need to com up higher then the foul line, so hope it doesn't collapse quickly


Brandon says:
10/26/2016 at 4:58:33 PM

we are naming this play Blazer and Napoleon


Jeff says:
11/9/2015 at 10:51:20 AM

I really think you could make this a continuity play. If #2 would pop to the top instead of drive and #5 would pick and roll toward the opposite block then #1 could drive and then kick back out to #2 if nothing else was open and then #5 could pop back up and screen for #2 and he would drive on the opposite side.


Lamont Weldon says:
2/6/2015 at 8:48:29 AM

I love this play! I run this play with 11-14 girls and it works great. There is actually 4 options on this play: 1) the dribbler can take it to the rack if its open, 2) the 3 on the wing if that's open, 3) the 4 if the center steps up to take away the drive, and 4) the 2 that's cutting through from the back side. The only problem that is presented with the play is the opportunity for a 2 on 1 fast break if the rebound is not secured by your team if the shot is missed.


LB says:
1/17/2015 at 12:48:00 PM

I have run this play in AAU with 8th grade girls and other coaches had no way to stop it. When you have two kids on the floor who can shoot the ball, the play is difficult to stop. Once the defense started anticipating the passes, the middle of the defense opened up for lay-ups. If you run the play correctly, there will always be an open shot. When you can run it on both sides of the floor, it is impossible to stop.


Coach B says:
10/22/2014 at 8:08:01 PM

I've run this play against 2-3 zone on all levels and it works. The 1 guard gets many good looks and the corner shot will open up more after the pg scores off the high screen.

We initiate the play with the pg throwing to the wing and the wing returning the pass to the pg-- it usually gets the top zone to move enough for an easier back screen.

This is not my primary offense vs the 2-3 zone. I usually wait until the game has begun to settle a bit or we need to change looks. The high back screen is more effective when defenders are getting tired.


Mvsz74 says:
7/26/2014 at 8:28:46 AM

Great play


Mvsz74 says:
7/26/2014 at 8:27:22 AM

Great play


wvery19 says:
4/15/2014 at 12:08:45 PM

I agree with Hanna that it is a little quick but I would suggest a team with small quick guards, a good shooting small forward who can get off his feet, and two back to the basket post (or power forward and center what ever you want to call them)who can set a good wide screen and immediately roll and score.


Ken Sartini says:
3/30/2014 at 9:23:33 AM

LB -

We all look like a genius when the ball goes in the hoop. When the kids miss, people in the stands are asking, why the heck would he do that?

I agree though.... but its all about exectution, IF your kids run the play right ( and you have another option for it ) you should get a great shot.


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