Thoughts on UT's Zone

Caveat Emptor: my thoughts in an email from early this morning, fraught with speculation and hearsay. I have concerns about Russell or Mario getting in foul trouble or Gibson/Paulino being hot from the outside.

Texas will have less fouls, but they should - they play a zone.

Their zone has some issues though:

1. UT will likely try to pressure our guards far away from the basket - our guards have shown vulnerability to this pressure and I'd be surprised if they don't see it. However, that extends the center of gravity of the zone out as well, and opens up some alley-oop lanes along the base line. We've done a very good job of exploting those lanes this year and we may be able to pull them back a little bit.

2. Not unlike a delicious donut, there is a hole right in the middle of UT's 2-3 zone. Rotate JW into that hole and we might see more dunkin and less donut.

3. UT isn't rotating as well as they were in the beginning of the year, or people are getting better at executing against them.

Here's my theory there:

UT's zone was successful at the beginning of the year because it was a new look and people really couldn't prepare for it. As B12 coaches got more and more game film on them, their zone began to show its weaknesses and B12 coaches played to those weaknesses. The same thing happened to us last year - we struggled late in the year not only because we were complacent, but also because teams began to understand the proper game plan for us - pack it in the lane and force us to beat you from the perimeter. Once Keith lost a step due to injury and JR went cold, it was very hard for us to win.

UT's a lot better team this year than we were last year, but they are very vulnerable. Their limited depth forces them to play a zone, and since Barnes is a man to man defensive coach, their zone is perhaps more porous than a team like Temple or Syracuse which plays it every game and has players selected to fit into it.

This is where KU has a major advantage - it's very hard to prepare for KU because you don't know what to look for. You can't isolate us offensively because we've got a lot of weapons. You really can't simulate our defensive pressure either, so you just hold your nose, jump in and hope that you can take the icy blast that hits you when Mario and Russ start tightening the screws.

If UT's zone looks like it has over the last 5 games, KU should be able to handle it.

I could have saved everyone a lot of reading if I had just said this : UT's zone is like a video game level boss - extremely difficult at first, but once you discover its vulnerable points, it's merely a matter of attacking them until the giant flesh eating death machine shrivels up and expires into a cloud of gas and leaves you a shiny golden heart.

Am I wrong here?