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The Zone Defense: Only Cowards Need Apply?

The Zone defense and Jim Boeheim go hand-in-hand. Boeheim, the long-time head coach at Syracuse University is one of the few elite head coaches in America who prefers a 2-3 Zone Defense to the more common-place man-to-man scheme. While watching Syracuse last night I jokingly wondered out loud (via Twitter) whether anyone had ever questioned this principle.


Bomani Jones, twitter acquaintance, ESPN Around the Horn talent, and all-around good dude responded this way:


No one can argue that Boeheim has been immensely successful at Syracuse. In the year at hand, the Orange are ranked atop both polls and are poised for yet another deep run in March. That being said, is there a right and wrong way to play defense? Is the Zone, as Bomani puts it, simply the cowards way out? On the playgrounds, you take your guy and defend him. Only a fool would run a Zone D in Rucker Park. And up until a few years ago, the Zone defense was outlawed at the NBA level. It has never been so in college. And who says the theoretical game of basketball should be dictated by the precedent set on an anarchists playground. As you know, the foul of travelling is not a big deal there either.

On the BYU pivot, Dave Rose has been implementing the Zone at a higher clip during this season.

So the question remains: Is it all about wins and losses or is there is correct and incorrect way of playing defense?

Fran Fraschilla on the Ins-and-Outs of the Syracuse 2-3 Zone