The Basketball Podcast: EP177 Ilias Zouros Strong Hand Defense

RELEASE DATE : 18/08/2021

In this week’s coaching conversation, Georgian National Team head coach Ilias Zouros joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss the strong hand defense he has used to great success for years.

Ilias Zouros is a Greek professional basketball coach who currently the head coach of Georgian National Team.  Zouros has gone through top-level European benches in addition to being the Greek national team coach.  Some of the teams Zouros has been a head coach of include: Olympiacos Piraeus, Sagesse Beirut, Peristeri Athens, Aris Thessaloniki, Paris Basket Racing, Panellinios Athens, Žalgiris Kaunas, and Efes Istanbul. He was named the 2010 EuroCup Coach of the Year. He lastly managed Peristeri of the Greek Basket League.

As a coach he was won

  • Lebanese League champion (2004)
  • FIBA Asia Champions Cup champion (2004)
  • EuroCup Coach of the Year (2010)
  • Lithuanian Cup winner (2011)
  • Baltic League champion (2011)
  • Lithuanian League champion (2011)

EP177 Ilias Zouros

Listen Here:

Ilias Zouros Quotes:

“I practiced this strong hand defense a lot . . because it’s really difficult to get the habits [down] and not to get beaten like this, because most of the players, they open either the front or . . the biggest mistake, especially in the very beginning, is when they open the back foot and they give a straight drive to the basket.”

“When we play one-on-one, wherever the player is, we don’t [allow] him to drive against us with his strong hand . . the first idea is not to get beaten in the first two dribbles.”

“If the [offensive] player brings the ball up, [the defense] is ready to contest with the left hand up. And this is one thing that is very, very important in our defense. We demand of our players to contest the shots . . it’s important to learn, if a right-handed player is shooting, the [defense’s] left hand is contesting.”

“Most coaches like to deny . . When there is a drive, they [the players] need to open to the ball, and then try to help. So, I like to play a defense, which we call ‘open deny’ defense . . With the open stance denial . . we are ready, first of all, to show to the offensive player that there is help and, at the same time, we can make a deflection with the hand closest to our opponent.”

“I believe that you need to have a philosophy. We say how we defend the pick-and-rolls . . with the team that we have. And if we change something for one game or against one player . . the players get used to that. They don’t have to think a lot because I believe the more you think, the less you run, the less you react. So, you need to have habits. And when you have habits . . you can play faster and more aggressive.”

“When you teach defense, at the same time, you teach offense. You are teaching them [the players] to understand how they have to attack when they face . . these very effective defenses.”

“The number one thing that we do is we try to improve and we give goals to every player offensively and defensively for two weeks. The coaches . . work with three or four players and they need to improve them.”

Ilias Zouros Breakdown:

1:00 – National Team Coach vs Team Coach
7:00 – Strong Arm Defense
12:00 – Forcing To The Baseline
20:30 – Keep The Ball in Front
23:30 – Arm Position on Defense and Offense
29:00 – Passing Problems
33:00 – Communication on Forcing Opponent
36:30 – Rim Sizes
39:00 – Take Away Dominant Hand
42:00 – Developing Defense
46:00 – Low Post and Strong Arm Defense
49:00 – Defending Down Screen and Zipper Screen
54:00 – Conclusion

Ilias Zouros Links from the Podcast:

Ted Rodopoulos

Nikos Galis

Gregg Popovich

Quin Snyder

Hubie Brown

Kenny Atkinson

Boban Marjanovic

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