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Coaching to Win + Set Plays vs. Zone Defense


(See more by Billy Gillispie)

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Coaching to Win + Set Plays vs. Zone Defense



Coaching to Win + Set Plays vs. Zone Defense

Take command and break down your opponent's zone defense through a variety of effective set plays!

  • Hear Coach Gillispie's insights on team culture and his views on how to build a lasting culture
  • Promote toughness and competitiveness through the "Get Tough" series of drills
  • Learn to execute set plays against zone defenses that work to get your players clean looks on offense


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with Billy Gillispie,
Tarleton State University Head Men's Coach;
former Head Coach at Ranger College, Texas Tech, Kentucky, Texas A&M and UTEP;
2008 SEC Co-Coach of the Year;
2x Big 12 Coach of the Year (2005, 2007);
over 250 wins at the collegiate level

Having taken three different schools to the NCAA Tournament, along with success at the junior college level, Billy Gillispie has developed winning programs everywhere he's coached. One area where his teams excel is in their execution of set plays against zone defense. In this on-court presentation, Coach Gillispie demonstrates a variety of set plays and wrinkles that can be used to attack zone defenses.

"Get Tough" Drills

A trademark of Coach Gillispie's teams are their toughness. The first drill introduced is Two Line Layups. The key to this drill is for the players in the drill to go full speed. The purpose of "Get Tough" drills is to place an emphasis on building a team that is tough and competitive. While some teams might not be the most talented, Gillispie is able to get the most out of his players by working on drills that build a team into a tough and competitive squad.

Set Plays vs. Zones

While partial to zone motion, Coach Gillispie runs sets against zones to make it easier for his team to attack them. The first of these plays is "X" against a 2-3 zone. Here, the ball is swung from one side to the other. On the second ball reversal, the ball-side low post screens the middle of the zone and the opposite post player comes underneath, looking for the ball for an easy score at the rim or to the corner if they can shoot.

Another set play begins with the two post players in a stack in the low post. Here, the point guard dribbles away and forces the wing to the corner. Once the point guard gets below the free throw line extended, the top player in the stack comes to set the ball screen, while the wing in the corner clears to the other side. As the point guard comes off the ball screen, the remaining post player screens the middle of the zone so the roll man can get to the low post for a possible catch in a 4-on-2 situation.

For teams with a great shooter, a triangle formation is used to create a shot. The ball is dribbled to the wing by the point guard before they come off a ball screen set by the best shooter at the elbow. The other wing, who was pushed to the corner by the point guard's dribble, comes up to set a screen for the screener. The shooter, who set the initial screen, steps out behind the 3-point line for a shot. Meanwhile, the ball-side wing screens the middle of the zone for the opposite post player, who comes underneath the screen.

"Wheel" can be executed to create movement resulting in either a possible lob dunk or an open 3-point shot. After moving the ball all the way to the corner, one of the two post players flashes to the top of the key to assist in swinging the ball to the other side. On the pass to the short corner to the other post player, the play results in a pass to the player on top cutting to the basket or a fan pass to the point guard for an open 3-point shot.

Coach Gillispie finishes his presentation with a baseline out of bounds play that works against both man-to-man and zone defenses. Out of a box alignment, the action with multiple screens can result in a drive to the basket, an open shot in the corner off a baseline stagger, a kick-out three in the corner, or post-up for a post player who is a great scorer.

Coach Gillespie's attention to detail and organizational skills come out beautifully in this video, which is full of different ways to help you attack a zone defense!

63 minutes. 2021.

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