Berry Tramel BLOG: Remembering OU vs. Syracuse 2003.
OU vs. Syracuse
→When: 6:27 p.m. Friday →Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis →TV: KWTV-9 (Cox 10)
Zoning in: How to beat Syracuse’s zone
Syracuse may be defined by its 2-3 zone, but it’s not some mystical, magical defense for the ages. The Orange does lose – nine times this year. This is the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006. Still, beating the zone is job one in beating Syracuse. Former Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton stresses several keys in zone-busting. "If you’re just going to pass the ball around the perimeter, you’re not going to do a very good job of attacking the zone,” Sutton said. "So it’s imperative that you, what we call, flatten the zone out, get the ball to the baseline and overload the zone. But it’s also imperative that you get the ball into the heart of the defense. Then, when you do get a shot, you have to attack the glass and try to get some second shots.” Similarly on the defensive end, controlling the boards can create fastbreak opportunities. "If you can get an outlet pass, you can get in transition before the defense has a chance to set up,” Sutton said. OU coach Jeff Capel has alluded to the possibility of moving power forward Blake Griffin around against the Orange, forcing them to react. "I would think coach Capel, he’s faced a lot of zones this year, he’s seen enough zones,” Sutton said. "I’m sure he’ll have a good game plan. But it’s never easy.” By John Helsley Zoning out: What makes the Syracuse zone work?
The Orange don’t just dabble in the 2-3 zone, it is, in many ways, who they are. So in Jim Boeheim’s 33 mostly successful seasons at the school, Syracuse has pretty much perfected the concept. "I think that’s one of their trademarks,” said former Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton, who ran up against the Orange three times at OSU, winning twice. "They’ve always played that zone, and through the years they’ve got it pretty well defined and they pretty well know what teams are going to do to attack it.” The best Syracuse zones put three quick, long guards out on the perimeter, backed by two big bodies inside. This edition is no different. From there, the Orange create problems in many ways, frustrating teams that can’t be patient or penetrate the zone or that struggle hitting outside shots. "Syracuse’s zone has the ability to collapse into the lane, like an accordion, and they’re quick enough and athletic enough to get back out to the shooters,” ESPN analyst and former coach Steve Lavin said in a video breakdown. "Jim Boeheim, throughout his career, has had great success giving you different looks out of that 2-3 zone. They can trap out of it, they can extend it, they can collapse it. There’s a lot of flexibility.” By John Helsley