Apparently, Jamie Dixon anticipated the new rule changes affecting man-to-man defense more than zone and thus is more prepared to play zone this year.
For those that saw the FS game, it was obvious the zone was effective. They were killing our man-to-man and when JD went to the zone, it killed their offense. Hardly scored AT ALL for the rest of the half after we went to the zone. They had apparently based their entire game plan around attacking our man-to-man and were caught completely by surprise with the zone.
But that wasn't the only thing. This zone was different from what Dixon has played in the past. It was EXTENDED out further and that really affected FS's 3 point shooting. Also, instead of just the 2-3 zone he usually plays, he went to a 2-1-2 for a while and mentioned that in the post game comments.
Another thing that made the zone so effective, James Robinson and Cam Wright out front. Both of these players are smarter than they are quick, and that makes for very good zone defenders. Josh Newkirk, didn't look bad at all out there either.
As far as our man-to-man defense getting eaten alive, I watched the replay on ESPN3 and backed it up to see who was making the defensive mistakes that were giving them the wide open 3 point shots and, it was Mike Young. Switching off when Zanna was playing the hedge (Mike is supposed to just give TEMPORARY help defense, not switch off) leaving his man open or otherwise not getting back fast enough when hedging himself. But, Mike is still a freshman so he should be able to get these things under control.
So, I expect that we will see both defenses from here on out, going with whichever one is working better in each game.
This is significant because we have the potential to be a much better defensive team with this improved zone.