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Hamidou Diallo: Calipari has “fallen in love” with the zone

Mark Zerof | USA Today

John Calipari famously hates the zone defense, but according to star guard Hamidou Diallo, he’s fallen in love with it after watching his team in practice.

“We’re definitely playing zone this year,” Diallo said. “Definitely. The length is ridiculous and we’ve been playing it great in practice and he’s just fallen in love with it.”

How can Hami tell?

“Every time we start playing in it and he just sees the length when we open our hands up and we just start covering different spots on the court so easily and he just starts smiling.”

Judging by the way Calipari casually dropped in a reference to that zone during his remarks, I’d say Hami is right.

“By the way, I put in a zone and it was 6-7, 6-6, 6-10, 6-9, 6-10 and it was so big,” Calipari bragged. “But we won’t play zone.”


Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

25 responses to “Hamidou Diallo: Calipari has “fallen in love” with the zone”

  1. Mathlete

    I feel like Hami’s just in on the joke at this point, I’ll believe Cal will run the zone when I see it. That said, if it’s going to happen any year it would be this year.

  2. kentuckybackupplayer

    let’s call it the “Calzone” in the Italian spirit of our coach.

    1. J-Dub421

      Ha! 🙂

    2. Mathlete

      if Wenyen is at the 4 or 5, is that a “Calzone with extra sausage”?

    3. AllBlueAllDay

      Come on mathlete, we don’t need to keep rehashing on the topic. It’s not wenyens fault he’s below average haha

  3. UKsuperdave

    I don’t understand why he won’t play zone. He asks his players to be posistionless yet he won’t play any D that isn’t man to man. Guess because we play NBA style ball in the NCAA. This causes problems in tournament matchups. Players first, we don’t care about teaching anything to win now just to prepare for the NBA. The more diverse ways your team can play the better prepared for the tourny.

  4. Angelo

    Tyler, don’t tease us like this…

  5. luke_emberton

    no no no no🤦🏻‍♂️teams who play zone don’t win national titles just play Man funnel everything inside get out be aggressive try to get steals and know that if you don’t it’s covered behind you

  6. TBW3011

    While I’m optimistic this will really happen, it’s also one of the few things that drive me nuts about Cal. Fans on their couch have known for years we should utilize zone more and if Cal realizes it 8-10 years in then what does that say about they guy we’re paying 5 mil per year?

    1. UK Big Board Update

      It makes him realize how many stupid fans we have. I trust Cal. How many Final Fours have you been to?

    2. TBW3011

      You are literally the worst. And that’s saying a lot on here. There is no coach I’d rather have. That doesn’t mean he never makes mistakes. You are posting your “stupid fans” comment on a blog, ran by a guy who has said on multiple occasions Cal can be really stubborn. Grow up you stalking idiot.

    3. J-Dub421

      Syracuse is known for their zone. They have one title and only a few other final four appearances. Please, tell me more about how great zone defense is.

    4. TBW3011

      And by the way J-Dub, Cal also has one title. 😉

    5. J-Dub421

      Yes, but unlike Boeheim, Cal hasn’t been at the same school for 40 years. Cal has built multiple programs and taken 3 different schools to the Final 4.

    6. J-Dub421

      Cal may only have one title (so far), but Kentucky has 8. Syracuse still only has one. Way to try to change the parameters of what I originally stated though.

    7. 4everUKblue

      I gotta tell ya I really like J-Dub. She’s way smarter than you TBW. And me too.

  7. TJY

    I’m normally against the zone but I did think we should have used it last year to keep Bam out of foul trouble. I’m excited about seeing the big team on the floor, the one where Shai is the shortest.

  8. Luether

    This is Fake News. Cal rarely ever plays zone – and it’s cost us some games…

    1. 4everUKblue

      How did it cost the Cards any games…please share.

  9. Solidtilt1

    Lol ^^ Luether should be trolling Loserville sites not greatness such as KY

  10. StuckinLville

    People seem to forget Cal eventually starting utilizing it with the 2015 team and he knows with this length, they can be a really good zone team that allows ZERO back door cuts. Dont forget about Willie out front in the 1-3-1. Putting that length on the pg makes it impossibly to get the offense going. Cal’s not dumb.

  11. Rabbi Li

    I can’t imagine not teaching this team the zone (or any other).

    Every good coach knows how to beat young Calipari Kentucky teams.

    Recipe (perfected by Bill Self):
    1. Try to play straight up man-to-man
    2. When you recognize that won’t work because your talent is inferior switch to an exotic zone.
    A. triangle-and-two
    B. box-and-one
    C. 3-2 zone
    3. Once the zone messes up the *single-minded Kentucky teams don’t just stay in it. Kentucky will take a couple of time outs trying to solve the issue so you switch back to man-to-man for a while so the players forget what Cal told them in the timeout.

    If these Kentucky kids see the zone (and are taught it) in practice they will have a better understanding on how to break it.

    Then you can rely on their athleticism to learn how to break man-to-man defenses (throughout the season).

    It seems like a lot of time in the mud since we’ll never have the goal to ‘master’ one however it has to be tried at this point… as Calipari has burned 8 seasons the other way and only come out with 1 Championship (when he’s had 4 teams that should have won the title).

    The Kicker: Zone defenses (whenever used) have been Krypotonite to young Kentucky teams (at anytime of the season).

    *singled minded meaning… they haven’t been taught the zone so they don’t know how to dismantle it unless they were taught in high school).

    1. 4everUKblue

      Holy crap! I don’t understand why your weren’t hired as coach instead of Coach Cal! You’re really some kinda of freaking genius aren’t you. Please share your coaching resume with us all, I’d love to see it. Don’t have one? Then shut the hell up!!!

    2. Luether

      Good analysis. Agree that not playing zone has cost Ky ‘ships…

  12. 4everUKblue

    Luther you’re a moron troll so your opinion does not count. Go back to Loserville.