LaBrae proudly emulates its version of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone

Chad Kiser doesn’t want to surrender his 2-3 zone defense. In fact, his LaBrae High School boys basketball team wants to embrace it.

Kiser made his Vikings stick with the defense employed by Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, whose team is ranked No. 1 in the nation.

“It’s been about 5-6 years ago when I saw coach Boeheim at a coaches clinic,” Kiser said. “I used to play some zone, more man-to-man. You’d give up a bucket, suddenly you get out of the zone because you’re a man-to-man guy. Coach Boeheim said, ‘How many man-to-man guys get out of man-to-man when they give up a bucket? You stick with your defense and make your adjustments.’

“So, that’s what we need to do.”

The 2-3 zone is adaptable to most teams. It’s a basic defense where there are two players flanked on either side of the foul line, guarding the perimeter. Two other players are on either wing, while the final player is inside. That player roams the lane and is the last line of defense for any wary soul gutsy enough to take it to the basket.

Some teams have dared to test LaBrae’s 2-3 zone. Most fail when they drive on LaBrae’s 6-foot-8 senior and Davidson College recruit Peyton Aldridge. Aldridge has a European-style feel to his game. He has the versatility to mix it up in the paint and have the wherewithal to maneuver his way through smaller guards on the perimeter. He feels very comfortable with the 19-, 20-foot jumper.

His 21 points per game is one of the best in this area, but averaging a handful of blocks per outing makes him a complete and solid NCAA Division I talent.

It seems to be a simplistic-type defense, but in fact is a potent defensive weapon, if used with the right type of players. It’s not meant for standstill, flat-footed players. Transitions teams thrive in this atmosphere. It creates offensive opportunities.

“When we can get out and run, that’s probably when we’re at our best,” Kiser said. “A lot of teams have been playing us zone here lately and we haven’t had a chance to run and get turnovers. That’s big for us.”

If the 2-3 zone is utilized the right way, it can create one-and-done opportunities for an opposing offense. It’s not only Aldridge’s rebounding presence in the post. The other four guys on the floor have to crash the boards as well.

“What we’re trying to model off of is the Syracuse 2-3,” Kiser said. “They’re a little bit better with some 6-7, 6-11, 6-10 wings. They really take up the space, that’s a big difference. With Peyton in the middle, he does such a great job of owning the middle and rebounding out of it. Any zone is tough to rebound. If you don’t find your man you’re next to, you got to find crashers. He makes it so much easier.

“The difference he makes defensively, that’s probably the biggest thing for us.”

You can count on if LaBrae’s is in its zone, the Vikings will be a tough out in the upcoming Division III tournament.