Final Four #XsOs – North Carolina Tarheels

By John Leonzo

As we reach the Final Four, it looks as if UNC is the team to beat. Their matchup against Syracuse is an extremely intriguing one as it will be the 3rd time the teams have faced off this season. UNC leads the season series 2-0, including a narrow 5-point win in their last game. In order to win this game, UNC is going to have to attack and score before Syracuse can set their zone, attack the offensive glass, and shoot the deep ball well. The good news for Carolina fans is that they have excelled in these three areas all throughout the NCAA tournament.

Zone Offense

UNC attacks the 2-3 zone in two primary ways:

  • Short corner overload actions
  • High post and short corner exchange actions

Both of these methods are effective means of attacking the zone because the players are locating themselves at spots where they cause indecision among the defense in regard to who they need to guard. Lets take a look at one of their ATO zone overload plays below:

UNC – Zone 3 Low Overload

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In addition to overloading the zone as a means to get the ball inside, they also will overload the zone as a means to create an open three-point shot. Here is a flare play that UNC ran vs. Syracuse in the regular season:

UNC – Zone Exchange Flare

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Lastly, we will see UNC use this overload concept out of baseline situations as well. In the set seen below, UNC has a shooter take the ball out of bounds, and then screens the outsides of the zone as a means to get their shooter an uncontested look.


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In addition to all of the plays that UNC will run vs. the Syracuse zone, there is also a lot to learn from their general zone offense. Here are a few things to be watching as they play Saturday night:

  • Quick decisions off the catch to penetrate quickly into the gaps of the zone
  • Perimeter players always spacing to their shooting range and being shot ready
  • The awareness and court sense of their high post players.

I believe that this will be an interesting matchup as UNC is red hot and and Syracuse is the underdog near and dear to everyones heart. Enjoy a great weekend of hoops!

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John Leonzo

John Leonzo is the CEO of John Leonzo Basketball where he seeks to provide the highest quality training for both players and coaches. Through on the court training with players and online courses for coaches, John is able to make an impact in all the areas of the game.

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March 12, 2016 – Washington Dc, U.S – North Carolina Tar Heels guard MARCUS PAIGE (5) passes the ball downcourt during the finals in the ACC Men’s Basketball tournament. North Carolina beat Virginia 61-57 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. (Credit Image: � Tom Rothenberg via ZUMA Wire)

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