Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — When Team USA takes the court in Madrid today against Lithuania (3 p.m., ESPN) in the first of three exhibitions leading up to the FIBA World Championship, don’t be surprised if they look like the Syracuse Orange on defense.
That’s because Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim and assistant Mike Hopkins helped Team USA and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski install their infamous 2-3 zone during training in Las Vegas and New York.
“We got one of the best teachers of the zone in Jim and we’ve worked on it both days here [in New York],” Coach K said last week. “And we just need to have it. Whether we use it a lot or a little, it’s there. And we need to practice it like we’re going to use it.”
Team USA only has one true center in Tyson Chandler, with Lamar Odom as the next biggest player. But in Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Rudy Gay the Americans have a slew of athletic wings.
“Its’ a team that can play the zone pretty well though because it has great lateral quickness,” Coach K said.
Krzyzewski likes the zone as an option because it gives opponents something else to contend with aside from straight man-to-man defense.
“It can take away the inside,” he said. “It can take away your offensive flow, your patterns and cause some type of distraction.
“And if you really play it well people think you give up the the three[-pointer] with it, but you can match up pretty well in it. It’s just another look.”
Now that Coach K has gotten a 2-3 zone tutorial from Boeheim and Hopkins, should we expect the Blue Devils to utilize it in their pursuit of a second straight NCAA championship?
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.