Whether playing pickup basketball or watching a big game on TV, most hoop fans can identify a 2-3 zone defense when they see it. Even if they don’t know it’s a 2-3, they will probably at least know the difference between a man-to-man defense and a zone defense.
Diehards will know that over the past 30-plus years, two coaches have been masters of the zone defense: Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, with the 2-3 zone and former Temple coach John Chaney, with the matchup zone.
Both styles are effective, as teams do not generally practice to play the zone. But the matchup zone can be attacked in exponentially more ways due to the movement of its pieces being dependant on each offensive player, whereas the 2-3 zone has only a handful of ways that it can be attacked and does not concentrate on the offensive players as much as it moves along with where the ball is on the court and where it may end up.
I asked my girlfriend, who actually played a little basketball in high school, if she knew what a 2-3 zone was, and her response was that it was a zone that wasn’t as good as a "1-zone."
With Syracuse being the top-ranked team in the NCAA, its 2-3 zone defense will be the focus of broadcasters, journalists and sports fans alike. This seems to be the perfect time to go through the talking points and merits of the 2-3 zone and why it is such a powerful weapon for Jim Boeheim.