I’m a basketball nerd through and through. But, I’m not going to sit here and act like I knew what a 1-2-2 zone defense was before Iowa Associate Head Coach Jan Jensen explained it to me. After chatting with Jan for a few minutes after today’s win — I realized how awesome she is at teaching the game of basketball.
So, I wanted to share some of our three-minute conversation today. And let’s start with that 1-2-2 defense Georgia ran that forced the Hawkeyes into 17 turnovers. The floor is yours, coach.
“What they do is — they’re a little bit bigger,” Jensen said. “Not ‘tall’ tall, but they spread out. Most people play a 2-3, so they do a 1-2-2 matchup. That gives you lowest percentage shots. They allowed you to get the ball in the high post area. But, then once you caught it, they were just swarming. So then when you’re coming in they’re pretty aggressive. Your vision isn’t so great. If you get on your heels — which we were — we had a few too many turnovers. We couldn’t really see the reversal of the ball because they’ll take that away. And then the bigs on the back line they would really get on up the line. Monika didn’t look as open. So that’s the hard part of it when they run it and — you know, Katie Abrahamson is a great coach and she’s been running that for years. Every stop she’s been ever, defensive numbers are always so great.”
Coach Abrahamson-Henderson led the Lady Bulldogs to a top 50 scoring defense this year. At UCF the previous year? 5th. And 3rd before that. She can coach defense at a high level.
But going back to the zone. Hoopstudent.com defines a 1-2-2 zone as “a basketball defensive strategy that seeks to limit low post scoring opportunities, restrict dribble penetration, and influence ineffective shot selection while executing on-ball pressure, particularly near the perimeter.”
The key to beating it? Well, a little Caitlin Clark never hurts.
“I think Caitlin is a great logo shooter,” Jensen said about Clark. “I mean, she might be the only basketball player in the world not named Steph Curry who can be labeled as a ‘logo shooter.'”
Clark scored or assisted on 31 of 33 of Iowa’s second half points today. I’ll turn it over to Jan again for this one.
“She can score it, but Caitlin’s passing is, I think, extraordinary,” Jensen said. “And I think that’s what we really needed to be extraordinary. She really was looking for it because they spread that zone so wide. It was just hard for a lot of different passing angles, and it was hard to get our normal looks. But when she really settled in that second half, she got around one of those guys, she could really either look for Gabby or look to hit Mon[ika]. She has a pro-level IQ. And I think when she settled she can just see things a lot of kids can’t.”
As for the value the Hawkeyes can take from this game? Nothing else matters without a ‘W’, but the ability to look back at how this team weathered the storm — and took down a quality opponent in a must-win game — is a positive takeaway.
“I just feel like we can draw upon that,” Jensen said. “We found a way. I think it’s a confidence builder anyway. If we don’t see it, or if we do see some type of 2-3 matchup — we can draw on this.”
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