All Forums > Hoops Dynasty Basketball > Hoops Dynasty > How much of a disadvantage is zone defense?
5/1/2014 11:55 AM (edited)
For the 2nd straight season, I got bounced out of the NT early (2nd round) with my S. Arkansas Allen team - last time as a #2 seed, and this time as a #1 seed. 

I feel like I had the  better roster both times, but both times the exact same thing happened....my squad committed a ton of turnovers, but our soft zone defense forced just about none. 

Check out this box score - we significantly out shot and out rebounded  them......but the turnover differential was huge. Note that our starting SF, with his very solid 60 passer rating, had 0 assists and 5 turnovers.  

www.whatifsports.com/hd/GameResults/BoxScore.aspx


Now, dan's team had a very solid FCP defense.....and he built a good squad. This isn't to disparage what he's done. It's more the strange nature of the box score, and how the turnovers made such a difference when we had advantages in all other categories.  

So I ask....is it at all possible to realistically win a title running a zone in DII??? Is the power of the press that important?

I believe that in last season's national tournament in DII Allen, 13 of the 16 teams left ran press, and the other 3 ran man. This season, 10 of the sweet 16 teams run press, 4 run man, and 2 run zone. It seems like press is still the very dominant defense.

I've won multiple titles with press and man in DII with other teams. Is it foolish to try to win with a zone? Is press still a magic bullet? What do you guys think? I  had planned to win titles with all three kinds of defenses in my HD career - but I think the zone is just too weak. 

Also...if I continue this route....how could I better build a zone team that could beat a good press defense? Or is it just a waste of time?


5/1/2014 12:03 PM
i ask the same question with a zone team i coach with a guy in d1. zone is the only off or def i haven't won with, so im not the best source, but it seems pretty decent to me when the talent disparity between your players is large. i think its disadvantaged in championship play across the board, especially in d1, because the depth of talent on top teams tends to be very substantial, where getting more minutes to a starter over the backup just isn't that useful. zone isn't as common as other sets, and i think it is a good set, very possibly the best set, for a number of rebuilding situations - but you still hardly ever see zone teams win titles it seems.

anyway looking at your team, you have some good players but zone definitely suggests, to me, teams should be doing everything in their power to get super stars. studs go further on zone teams than in other defenses, taking walkons as necessary to accomplish this is worthwhile. i think you could do a bit more on that front. overall the talent gap wasn't as big as the seeding suggests, which happens all the time, so thats probably part of it, too (that and a little bad luck). that said, the one thing that really sticks out is rebounding. your rebounding is really bad for a d2 team, it seems to me, and you are getting killed on the boards over it (if you look at your team overall, and are seeing that +1 reb in your favor on team stats with that #2 sos, and not understanding why i still say you are getting killed on the board, let me know, and ill elaborate). zone is weaker than man on the boards in the first place, with those rebounding rating, its trouble. losing to a press team who has huge advantages over you in TOs and rebounds is going to be VERY easy. your offense/defense quality just in terms of shooting on both sides can overcome some of that stuff but its so easy to not have a great off/def night, and lose games, when you have to substantially beat the other team on raw off shooting/opponent shooting def just to break even.
5/1/2014 12:52 PM (edited)
Posted by gillispie1 on 5/1/2014 12:04:00 PM (view original):
i ask the same question with a zone team i coach with a guy in d1. zone is the only off or def i haven't won with, so im not the best source, but it seems pretty decent to me when the talent disparity between your players is large. i think its disadvantaged in championship play across the board, especially in d1, because the depth of talent on top teams tends to be very substantial, where getting more minutes to a starter over the backup just isn't that useful. zone isn't as common as other sets, and i think it is a good set, very possibly the best set, for a number of rebuilding situations - but you still hardly ever see zone teams win titles it seems.

anyway looking at your team, you have some good players but zone definitely suggests, to me, teams should be doing everything in their power to get super stars. studs go further on zone teams than in other defenses, taking walkons as necessary to accomplish this is worthwhile. i think you could do a bit more on that front. overall the talent gap wasn't as big as the seeding suggests, which happens all the time, so thats probably part of it, too (that and a little bad luck). that said, the one thing that really sticks out is rebounding. your rebounding is really bad for a d2 team, it seems to me, and you are getting killed on the boards over it (if you look at your team overall, and are seeing that +1 reb in your favor on team stats with that #2 sos, and not understanding why i still say you are getting killed on the board, let me know, and ill elaborate). zone is weaker than man on the boards in the first place, with those rebounding rating, its trouble. losing to a press team who has huge advantages over you in TOs and rebounds is going to be VERY easy. your offense/defense quality just in terms of shooting on both sides can overcome some of that stuff but its so easy to not have a great off/def night, and lose games, when you have to substantially beat the other team on raw off shooting/opponent shooting def just to break even.
I see the rebounding now, gillipsie. At first I thought...."What is he talking about?" being that we outrebounded Bakersfield by 4.......but they had 13 more missed shots, so we should have had a lot more rebounds. 

Very helpful post. So do you think a solid zone team is often one that's pretty top-heavy with superstars, and might only go 9 or 10 deep? I agree that I probably focus to heavy on FG% offense and defense while missing some other factors. This game was a prime example where we significantly out-shot them, and still lost. 
5/1/2014 12:52 PM
Look at the missed FT's as well.   
5/1/2014 12:53 PM
Posted by Trentonjoe on 5/1/2014 12:52:00 PM (view original):
Look at the missed FT's as well.   
We shot 81% from FT land, though
5/1/2014 1:06 PM (edited)
BB, he had about 12 more shots in the first half than you. 7 offensive boards.... and he can't rebound.
Personally I would have played slow.... and gone -2 or -3 if you were going to play 3/2. He has one decent outside threat.
The RNG hit 5-10 3 pointers on your +1.... trust me... it wouldn't have been much worse at probably -5..LOL.
In hindsight, surviving his first half was the key to winning that game.
You beat much better FCP teams earlier in the season.
I play Zone with 3 of my D1 teams and prefer it. I don't have a title yet with it, but have 3-4 final 4's... and my Stanford team won a title with it and 10 of my players the season after I left...LOL. so I figure it's not the Zone... just me.

and FWIW, I have never had a D2 Zone team that I can remember... haven't been in D2 for several years... so my opinion may be a little less valid here.
5/1/2014 1:42 PM
The guys to ask about zone sets at D2 or D3 are: for 3-2 = hogstench and for 2-3 = milwood.  I'll pass along what hogstench told me a long time ago (after beating my 3-2 zone with his 3-2 zone) was that playing 3-2 at + is usually a bad idea and unnecessary to disrupt most 3 point shooting teams.  That jives with mizzou's advice too.
5/1/2014 1:50 PM
I don't feel like zone is holding my teams back.   Granted, i don't have a championship but my Redlands team made the E8 in D3 Wooden running Zone.

These are my general thoughts on zone:

Adjust your recruiting , the 60-60-60 guys are expensive but signing a 80-30-80 and a 40-90-40 guy gives you the same defensive value and they tend to be cheaper.

I think my oFG% is roughly 5-10% higher than if I played man.

Some guys like the flexibility of 2-3 or 3-2 but I generally pick one and stay with it for a season,

Don't ignore BLK in your SF if you play a 2-3.

Good DEFENSE is still good DEFENSE.  If you're starters average  70+ in ATH and DEF (and SPEED for G's and BLK for posts) you are an elite NT type team.

If you play a 2-3 makes sure you have solid REB from your 4/5.  


5/1/2014 1:53 PM
bow2dacowz in our very own Iba conference seems to be doing quite well with zone bbunch....

for others not in our conference, he is 23-0 currently (playing in a top 2 conference in Iba).

team is Pfeiffer

for some reason I can't create a link....

5/1/2014 1:55 PM
The sim isn't any different in the tournament than in the regular season. If you can beat elite press teams during the season, then you can beat elite press teams. I haven't looked at the makeup of your conference beyond knowing it has a bunch of elite teams in general, against which you went 19-0. 

I do run zone in a couple worlds, and I've definitely noticed the turnover issue. Zone doesn't force many turnovers, and it seems like running zone against press can be absolutely brutal from a turnover perspective. My Greensboro team is finding that out the hard way right now--I really thought we'd be quite a lot better than we are, but our turnover numbers are abysmal. 

That said, I haven't noticed the zone teams being particularly more susceptible to tournament upsets than other teams. I've had two zone teams that were genuinely really good, both got 1 seeds, both went 15-1 in the #1 conference, both lost in the Elite Eight (interestingly, a conference rival of mine won the whole thing both years. The second time, he had been my one conference loss. The first time, I won in conference play but he beat the team that beat me in the NT). But I've had multiple press teams dominate during the regular season and lose in the Elite Eight (the most recent being Erskine last season, which went 19-0 in a brutal conference and then blew a 15-point halftime lead as a heavy favorite in the Elite Eight). The Elite Eight is just my personal nightmare--I'm 5-15 all-time in that round across all worlds--but running zone hasn't seemed to contribute to that more than running anything else. I have more press teams than zone and have never made a Final Four running press either. I've had three #1 seeds lose in the second round, and none have run zone (FB/FCP, flex/man, and triangle/man). 

So that's just personal experience from small sample size. I don't think it's the zone, I think it's the RNG. Although I will say that the zone/slowdown combo (regardless of which teams is running slowdown) seems more susceptible to upsets than most--it seems, in my possibly biased opinion--to reduce the number of possessions more than slowdown with other defenses. 
5/1/2014 2:34 PM
I believe zone outperforms the other two defenses early in the season... (all things being equal).
as IQ's begin to raise I believe it lags the other 2.
I feel to win in the NT with a D1 zone you have to probably understand it's strengths and weaknesses maybe more than the others.
I think it might be the best defense for a rebuild, or new coach due to it being a little more "forgiving" if you will, but probably the hardest to win a title with.
5/1/2014 2:38 PM
Posted by Trentonjoe on 5/1/2014 1:50:00 PM (view original):
I don't feel like zone is holding my teams back.   Granted, i don't have a championship but my Redlands team made the E8 in D3 Wooden running Zone.

These are my general thoughts on zone:

Adjust your recruiting , the 60-60-60 guys are expensive but signing a 80-30-80 and a 40-90-40 guy gives you the same defensive value and they tend to be cheaper.

I think my oFG% is roughly 5-10% higher than if I played man.

Some guys like the flexibility of 2-3 or 3-2 but I generally pick one and stay with it for a season,

Don't ignore BLK in your SF if you play a 2-3.

Good DEFENSE is still good DEFENSE.  If you're starters average  70+ in ATH and DEF (and SPEED for G's and BLK for posts) you are an elite NT type team.

If you play a 2-3 makes sure you have solid REB from your 4/5.  


I think I agree with most of this, but the oFG% being 5-10% higher is way overstated IMO. I think that must correlate to lower defensive stats. If you have a strong ath/def based team playing man or znoe, the % difference is going to be in the 0-4% ballpark, I am pretty confident on that. Last season at oh st in smith, we got upset in the 1st round in a fluke, but in the conf that was #1 that season, we were top in opponent fg% and 3pt% by conference stats only. This year we are second in each, with a team that relies on some younger players, we aren't as defensively sound, and are 2nd behind a potential 1 seed (we are 9th on the proj report in the CT). On other successful zone teams I've had, in the good post season run sense, not the title sense, our fg% and 3pt% was fine. Where zone struggles to me is not the %s but rather the turnovers and the boards.

I love the flexibility of the 3-2/2-3 although I am confident i haven't mastered it...

5/1/2014 2:40 PM

I love zone def and always try to comment when it pops up in the forums: I won 2 zone titles in D2 and have been running zone exclusively since.

Zone doesn't cause many turnovers at all but you can increase the amount of TO's by recruiting more speed - I think that's key for TO's in all def. I try to get my zone team to be on par with m2m teams when it comes to TO's.

After taking a quick glance at your roster, you have a tremendous drop off in rebounding and defense which could explain your issues with zone. Your ATH and Spd ratings are decent which is great but you can't have a 58 RB PF. Even at D2 that's too low.

I notice most of my losses occur when my zone team equals or surpasses the amount of personal fouls of my opponent especially against FCP teams. I always hope my team commits no more than 12 PF's 15 at most for every game as you're not getting killed from the line.

If run correctly zone is more than formidable. Based on what I see you are just trying to hide too many defenders and your RB in your bigs is kind of bad - really bad actually. I'd never recruit a 50'ish RB big for a zone unless they were an absolute beast in other cores and even then I may only recruit one of them.

I always find the most difficult oppents for zone run m2m. I love facing press teams with a zone because they can't tire my guys out and if I have a few studs then it's normally a wrap.

5/1/2014 2:42 PM
I don't know why I wrote 5-10.   I think it is more like 2-5%

My good man teams can usually hold opponents to right around 40%, my good zone teams get to about 42%.
5/1/2014 2:44 PM
You guys are saying Zone allows worse FG% than Man, all else equal?  Admittedly I haven't played Zone in a long time, but I thought FG% defense was supposed to be one of the strengths of Zone.  My understanding was Press was the worst in oFG%, with Zone being the best and Man in the middle.  Is that wrong?
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