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All this talk about the 2-3 zone got me thinking about the funky offensive teams in college football like Georgia Tech and Air Force. Those teams tend to win when opponents have no real time to prep, but seem to lose more bowl games than they win, maybe because opposing coaches have a lot of time to install a strategy and focus on repeating it? Is some of Syracuse's success (same as VCU) in the tourney because teams can't adequately prepare? I looked at the last ~10 years of post-season games to see when Syracuse lost:
2011-2012: Round 4 -- short prep (Only won round 3 by 1 point)
2010-2011: Round 2 -- short prep (Big East opponent Marquette)
2009-2010: Round 3 -- 1 week prep
2008-2009: Round 3 -- 1 week prep
2007-2008: NIT Round 3 -- 1 week prep
2006-2007: NIT Round 4 -- short prep
2005-2006: Round 1 -- 1 week prep
2004-2005: Round 1 -- 1 week prep
2003-2004: Round 3 -- 1 week prep
I exclude 2010-2011 because they played a Big East opponent who plays them multiple times per year already. The remainder shows 6 out of 8 seasons they lost when a team had 1 week to prepare. Only 2 times did they lose on a short prep, once to Clemson in the NIT and once to OSU in 2011 right after only beating Wisconsin by 1 point after their long prep week. In the case of OSU, that was just a talented team with Jared Sullinger, Craft, and Turner, so the lack of prep obviously wasn't a huge deal.
I realize you can't use statistics in games like this, because other stats show Boeheim is 8-0 vs. Beilein, but damn am I glad we get the next 4 days to work exclusively on 2-3 zone breaking.
Edit: Also not trying to disparage Syracuse or Georgia Tech, just hypothesizing that teams may struggle a lot more facing a defense like the 2-3 when they don't have time to watch film and prepare.
This post was edited by Dizzo 15 months ago
I see you did not include Cuse's 2002-2003 season.
This post was edited by Michmania 15 months ago
I didn't do that on purpose, I just went down 10 including the current year. I knew Carmelo was getting close, but didn't know if it was 1 or 2 years before I stopped looking.
I would've just talked that one away, just like people do with all statistics, as "I just looked at years they didn't have an NBA superstar on their roster."
There's no doubt that short prep makes it incredibly difficult to combat the Syracuse zone, but the same argument can be made for the Michigan offense. Beilein runs a complicated but effective offense, and as Florida saw, it's not something that can be defended against by mere athletes without a lockdown gameplan.
However, I think the Syracuse-Michigan game will be one of the best in the tournament. If anyone's been watching Syracuse in the tournament, they're a machine on defense. Every single player is going exactly where he's supposed to, they crash hard and nobody is out of position. I've been watching Syracuse basketball for 15 years, and I've never seen a team this good on defense, and that's saying something.
Mitch McGary will have to have the game of his life to beat this zone. The key to the Syracuse zone is that it turns an opposing big man (usually the C) into the point man, the distributor. It takes the ball out of Burke's hands and puts it into McGary's at the top of the key. If you go back and watch Syracuse's last two games, Cody Zeller simply couldn't handle the pressure. He would receive the ball at the top of the key and hesitate, every single time. He wouldn't drive, he wouldn't pop a shot, and he wouldn't immediately kick out - and as a result, Syracuse's guards crashed down on him and caused turnovers and bad passes/shots.
On the other hand, Davante Gardner of Marquette showed how to beat it (despite the final score, since that was due more to Marquette's inability to stop CJ Fair or Michael Carter-Williams in the lane). Gardner was always ready for an outlet, he scored 14 points off a little foul-line jumper, and he embraced the role of decision-maker. For Michigan to succeed, they need McGary to embrace that role, because whether he wants it or not, he'll be forced into it.
I have to think it would be a great idea to turn this into a track meet. Very few teams have the horses to run with us, we need to really up the tempo and really push it in transition. Don't allow Cuse to set up the zone.
Beilein absolutely destroyed VCU's press and Florida's good defense. He's an offensive genius and I have no doubt he'll be able to figure out the 2-3 zone.
That's the beauty of the 2-3 zone though - it doesn't require an offensive genius to beat it, it requires execution. Beilein can prepare the kids all he wants, but if someone (specifically, McGary) gets rattled, it all starts to fall apart. If all it took was someone to decipher it scheme-wise, Boeheim wouldn't have been able to use it for as long as he has.
I don't want anyone to think I'm being defeatist here, but I don't think it's a stretch to say that Syracuse is far and away the best defense Michigan will have seen in the tournament. They're just playing on an entirely different level than anyone else (with the exception of Louisville) right now. I know we're all on a high from the Florida win, but this game is a toss-up if I've ever seen one.
I agree. Syracuse has length and athleticism, but they can get in foul trouble, they don't rebound as well as they should, and they only run 8 deep, at the most. A track meet plays in Michigan's favor, as Burke is an infinitely better decision-maker on the fly than Michael Carter-Williams is, and running the court doesn't allow Syracuse their bread-and-butter offense of MCW drives leading to easy layups, dishes, or kickouts to the wing. The less Syracuse can set up in the 2-3, the better Michigan's chances of winning.
IMO this is a lot and a little like when Urbz starting going back to the spread. What is old is new again, but they never left the 2 -3. We both played and defended against it in middle and high school.
The difference is that the Orange recruit to it very well, with length in particular. IF you work/move the ball AND hit your shots you can shred it, but if not look out. You also have to stop their offense and work them in transition which I think that Michigan can do.
This really is the key.
Watch the games against Louisville...smaller, quick guards that can shoot can break down the zone. And if you get Cuse running, they can't get into their set defense. The key for Michigan is to keep their heads, and not get flustered. Also, lock down the outside shooters.
God help Michigan if James Southerland gets hot from outside - what Stauskas did yesterday, he did for the entire Big East tournament. Each team really needs to prevent easy looks from outside if they want a hope of winning.
Why does it need to be only McGary flashing in the middle of the zone? Why not Robinson and Hardaway? Michigan has had both Hardaway and Robinson flash at the free throw line against zones this year.
The 2-3 shuttles everyone but your low post player to the wings. If McGary isn't inside, then defenders shrug off him, because he's not really a 3-point threat and they have the speed to recover if he tries to drive. By not putting McGary in the middle, all you're doing is increasing the defensive pressure on your remaining 4 players and putting McGary in a weak position where he a) can't help out offensively and b) is way out of position for any potential rebounds.
This isn't entirely true. You can have guys moving around in the zone. McGary could be running on the base line while one of the other guys flashes to the foul line. The team doesn't need to have just their post player flash at the foul line while everyone stands around the 3 point line.
OT but GT is going to run some ski gun this season. They did a little bit of it with Vad Lee in the bowl game.
It’s nice to finally see this offense/formation work its way up to the FBS level.
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