When Baylor and Scott Drew went exclusively to their extended 2-3 zone late in the 2008-2009 during the Big 12 tournament, the Bears took off going 7-2 in the Big 12 tournament and NIT combined.
They continued the zone this year and saw great success. My question was how much of a factor was their success defensively? The Bears boasted the #3 offensive efficiency in the country. You don’t need a great defense paired with that to become a Top 10.
Was the switch to the zone the reason behind hitting their stride or was it merely a coincidence with the development of Udoh, Dunn, Carter, Acy and more? It is tough to say.
But where I did finally take issue with the zone was against Duke. Baylor was the more athletic, quicker and stronger team and evened the playing field in the zone. More so, Duke was an elite offensive rebounding team and matched against a zone, a good offensive rebounding team will almost always excel. Had Baylor pressured Duke, and sped up the game, I believe they’re in the Final 4. But it never happened and Nolan Smith and Duke eventually rebounded and shot Baylor out of it.
This isn’t to say Baylor should go away from the zone. They still will have grat length this year. And also great athleticism, which I would like to see employed in a man to man defense.