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Whether Calipari likes it or not, Barbee says zone is working for Kentucky

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John Calipari prides himself on strong defensive teams, but as this group has struggled this season, he’s been forced to do something he hates: play a zone. Kentucky’s used the 2-3 zone a lot in the past few games, and because Calipari is not a fan of it, he put Tony Barbee in charge of teaching it. Today, Barbee said that using zone has worked; over the past two games, on the 30 possessions Kentucky has played zone, they’ve gotten stops 21 times, a pretty impressive mark.

“When you grade the tapes, the last two games we’ve played, of the 30 possessions we played it, we got stops 21 of the 30 times. I think we would take that percentage any day of the week and of the nine times they scored, the majority of the times they scored, it was a breakdown on our end, not so much effective zone offense either way, although you have to give guys credit for making those shots.”

Cal may not like it, but Barbee says that this team actually has the makings of a great zone team.

“It’s a good change of pace. The one thing, we have the attributes to be a fantastic zone team. We’re long, we’re athletic, we cover a lot of ground. It’s a work in progress, like our man defense, like our man offense is a work in progress. The one thing about the zone right now, we’ve been effective in it. When we watch on tape the times the teams have scored on the zone, it’s usually somewhere we broke down, and they slide, or a communication that we possibly could have contested that shot, but it’s a great change of pace for us if teams get it going against our man [to man defense].”

When asked how he — a former Calipari pupil — became such a fan of the zone, Barbee diplomatically said that it’s not that Cal dislikes the zone, he just prefers the accountability of man-to-man.

“He’s not averse to zones. He just likes to say that. He likes the accountability of man-to-man,” Barbee added. “It’s something that we’ll use from time to time, but we’re a man-to-man team, and he’s a man-to-man coach, and that’s what his identity has always been for a long time and he’s had a lot of success with it.”

Right now, the only success Kentucky’s having on defense is with the zone, so let’s stick to it. (Sorry, Cal.)

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.

10 Comments for Whether Calipari likes it or not, Barbee says zone is working for Kentucky

  1. TJY
    3:29 pm February 6, 2017 Permalink

    It also helps to protect Bam. We need him in the game…Zone keeps him from switching and getting stupid fouls or his ankles broken. If we choose to continue man to man, I would like to request that we go back to running every play. I mean, if we’re going to give up 85 points when we try to play D we may as well score 94+. GO CATS!

  2. ClutchCargo
    3:41 pm February 6, 2017 Permalink

    The man to man “defense” gave up like 11,000 dunks vs. UF. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

  3. Bluebloodtoo
    3:54 pm February 6, 2017 Permalink

    Moving to Zone is just allowing the guys to continue to play lazy D. We might win a few close games by using it, but we won’t make it through the NCAA tourney with a zone being the only viable defensive scheme we can run.
    Also, how much prep time do you think the opposing coaches are spending game planning for the zone with the frequency we use it now? How effective will it be when they start to game plan against it?

  4. bosshogg24
    4:06 pm February 6, 2017 Permalink

    Saw where UK commit Nick Richards got thrown out of his game for fighting! It is the first time in years that UK got a player with a little fight in him, we are sure lacking it now!

  5. WeareBBN
    5:24 pm February 6, 2017 Permalink

    agree with blueblood. Because this group is too lazy too move and hustle we will cater to them and play a defense that requires less effort. Play D or don’t play, how about that solution. I would rather lose with 5 kids busting it for all they are worth, if they would lose, than lose like we are now with people actually moving out of the way or slapping like a girl with their arm as the guy drives. This team reminds me of the twins, lazy on D and rebounding but they sure as heck are fast when going to offense and possibly getting a shot.

    • UK Big Board Update
      3:49 am February 7, 2017 Permalink

      “I would rather lose with 5 kids busting it for all they are worth, if they would lose, than lose like we are now”

      LMFAO. Yeah, right. You forget the Tubby years. Everybody piled on him.

      And the twins years led us to back-to-back Final Fours.

      Delete your account.

  6. Rick_S
    8:05 pm February 6, 2017 Permalink

    I told Cal over and over during the KU game..Play f’ing zone and see what happens..he didn’t listen..oh i said stop forcing the ball to bam…Bam is not ready to be the man the offense through Monk.Bam needs to play d and rebound..get garbage points..

  7. kuhlkat
    10:09 pm February 6, 2017 Permalink

    They are talking about using zone to mix things up and take a team out of their rhythm.
    Not as being the only viable defensive scheme. I would love to see it but doubt Cal trusts it to use in a big tourney game.