Breakdown: Kermit Davis Morphing 1-3-1 Zone Defense

By Matt Barnthouse

Go inside the action of coach Kermit Davis’ morphing 1-3-1 Zone Defense that has led to multiple NCAA Tournament runs.

First-year Ole Miss Head Coach Kermit Davis is famous for using an aggressive style of 1-3-1 Zone Defense that helped his Middle Tennessee State squads to multiple NCAA Tournament appearances.

This post outlines the principles of the defense, as well as the personnel needed to execute it effectively. Scroll down to view the FastDraw diagram showing the basic rotations along with frame descriptions, and download it to your  library.

This video, courtesy of Championship Productions, shows the action in more detail.


  • 1 and 2: Defend the wings 
  • 3: Most athletic wing player
  • 4: Long, athletic, and around 6’6” or 6’7″
  • 5: Always stays between ball and rim 


  • Early traps; force the offense up and out away from paint.
  • Aggressive defense forcing mistakes. 
  • Prevent easy straight line passes, force offense to make lob passes that allow time for recovery. 


  • Active, high hands (once again, trying to force lob passes).
  • Force lob passes, avoid giving up straight line passes.
  • Play with constant energy and make the offense panic. 

Morphing 1-3-1 Zone Defense (click to download to FastDraw)

Kermit Davis Morphing 1-3-1 Zone Defense w descriptions

More defensive content: Help Defense | Post Defense | Defending Screens | Perimeter Defense

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Matt Barnthouse

Content Associate at FastModel Sports
Matt Barnthouse is a content associate for FastModel Sports. Barnthouse has over eight years experience working at the youth, high school, and Division I levels of basketball, including four years as a student manager for Ole Miss Men's Basketball from 2013-2017, and volunteer multimedia recruiting assistant for Cincinnati Men's Basketball from 2017-19. Barnthouse became a free agent following the completion of his Master's Degree in 2019, and is looking for a job in basketball. You can follow Barnthouse on Twitter @MattBarnthouse.
August 9, 2018 – Ottawa, ON, U.S. – OTTAWA, ON – AUGUST 08: Ole Miss coach Kermit Davis shouts instructions during pre-season college basketball play at Carleton University’s Raven’s Nest in Ottawa, Canada. The Carleton Ravens defeated the Ole Miss Rebels 81-69 in the game played on August 8, 2018.. (Photo by Sean Burges/Icon Sportswire) (Credit Image: © Sean Burges/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press)

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