After watching Georgia Tech basketball all season it has become perfectly clear that there is one weakness that coach Brian Gregory‘s squad is seemingly not going to overcome – the Jackets are simply not able to execute against the 2-3 zone.
There is a problem with trying to overcome this hurdle, and it’s that what the Jackets would need to do to beat a 2-3 zone they are either not good at, or it would create other issues for the squad.
One thing that Tech should do is get the ball into the middle of the zone to their bigs Daniel Miller and Kammeon Holsey. If they were able to get the ball into the middle of the zone to those guys, the defense would more than likely collapse on them leaving shooters open outside, or if the defense collapses late, Miller or Holsey could look to get their own shot.
But the reason this isn’t going to work is because Miller and Holsey really do not move fast enough and actively enough to make themselves available to get entry passes inside of their opponent’s zones. It also seems that when one of them does, they don’t hold on to the ball long enough inside the zone to get the defense to react.
The Jan. 18 game against the Miami Hurricanes is a perfect example of what I mean. When Miller got the ball in the middle of the zone he did not hold on to it and make a pivot move to face the hoop. He simply kicked it back outside. Miller giving the ball up to the outside brings me to the second reason why the Jackets can’t beat the zone. The Jackets are not proficient at shooting the ball from outside.
Overall the Jackets are ranked 11th in field goal percentage at 44%, which puts them in the bottom third of the conference. Then factor in that Tech is 14th in the ACC in 3-point shooting percentage at 30.3%, and it makes for a bad offense against a zone.When Miller or Holsey decide to pass the ball back outside to shooters like Chris Bolden and Marques Georges-Hunt, they are throwing up bricks more often than not.
Now there is a way that Tech could go about beating the 2-3 zone, but it would create a problem as the game wore on. The Yellow Jackets could push the tempo and beat the opponents transition defense down so they can’t set up the zone. The reason this approach probably wouldn’t work is that the Jackets roster is depleted due to injuries, and playing at a faster pace would burn out the short rotation that is at coach Gregory’s disposal.
Trae Golden has been great at pushing the tempo and getting fast break opportunities for teammates and himself, but the lack of point guard depth would burn Golden out and hurt in the long run if the Jackets played with an overall faster pace. Golden is also more prone to driving to the basket himself, or putting up a three, rather than dishing the ball and running an offense. Teams see this and simply key on him and trap him as he brings the ball down.
So basically, when you do the math, if the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are playing against a team that is putting a 2-3 zone–or quite frankly any kind of zone half-court defense on the floor–just start praying. The Jackets achilles heel is a zone defense, and it probably will be all season long.