In this post we are going to take a look the Responsibilities and Steal Opportunities for Guards in our 23 Zone.
Your guards have fairly simple responsibilities when it comes to the 23 Zone. In almost all scenarios they are tasked with either Guarding the Basketball or trying to prevent a pass the Middle Man. Doing these two things well is the difference between an effective defense and one that is giving up open shots. These two players need to be connected more than any other two players on the floor. Their movements need to mirror one another to prevent the basketball from getting into the Middle of the floor.
There are a number of different Steal Opportunities embedded into their movements; here are four of the most common ones that we can spot on film.
I. Guard Steals, On the Ball Defense -
As a player dribble penetrates from the perimeter the opposite guard attacks the dribble looking for a strip or to stuff the drive
Crossing the Midline -
As a ball handler crosses the midline of the floor with the dribble the "new defender" attacks the basketball looking for a deflection or steal.
Dribble Penetration -
As a player dribble penetrates from the perimeter the opposite guard attacks the dribble looking for a strip or to stuff the drive.
II. Guard Steals, Perimeter Swing Passes -
On occasion the opportunity to "jump" a perimeter swing pass will present itself. Teams that do not use a Middle Man, or who have a weak Middle Man, will allow for these opportunities more frequently.
Guards must make sure to have a hand on the offensive middle man, but their weight needs to be leaning to the top of the key as they will be responsible for guarding the next pass.
Teaching Point -
Chest is pointed to the basketball, with the left hand free to deflect the basketball on the pass.
III. Guard Steals, Middle Entry Pass -
The guards need to take away Dribble Penetration and the pass the Middle Man. So anticipating that pass to the Middle becomes a great opportunity for steals.
At the Top of the Key -
The guards should be within arm's reach of each other and actively anticipating that pass to the middle player.
On the Wing -
The guard's inside hand needs to be on the Middle Player to deter that entry pass - on the pass they should be trying to deflect.
IV. Guard Steals, Inside Out Passes -
At some point the basketball will get "behind" the guards. These opportunities are dangerous for the defense - but present the guards with great steal opportunities.
Baseline Drives or Short Corner -
When the ball is driven baseline or touched to the Short Corner the guards should look to sink and get into passing lanes.
Deep Middle Touch -
In these scenarios the guards need to get to the "Guard Boxes" to try and anticipate any kick out passes.
Concluding Thoughts -
Your guards need to be high energy players who are determined to not get beat off the dribble. If your guards can consistently keep the basketball in front of them they will force the offense to make riskier plays as the shot clocks ticks away. Anticipating that middle entry pass and then getting ball pressure on the basketball will be the key elements in creating all of these steal opportunities.
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Take a Look at these 23 Zone Resources:
Search #23ZoneTips on Twitter
Joe Gallo | 'How we Create Steals in our Zone' - https://bit.ly/2ZagfAO
Matt Cline | '23 Zone' - https://bit.ly/2QLa80Y
Radius Athletics | 'Syracuse Zone' - https://bit.ly/3dpsxJJ
Contact info for Coach Lynch