Syracuse's zone defense exported to Japan

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's trademark 2-3 zone defense has long been admired, but the rest of college basketball has been unable (or unwilling) to duplicate the system with the same success.

Now an unlikely member of the Boeheim coaching tree is going to try exporting that defense from the Big East to the Far East.

Former Syracuse player Ryan Blackwell, 33, is a first-time head coach for the Osaka Evessa, and he told The Post-Standard that he'll implement the Boeheim zone against other Japanese League teams.

Blackwell, who said he'd eventually like to return to the United States as a coach in the NBA or at the college level, got a jump on his coaching career last season. He used his Syracuse experience to help his Osaka Evessa coach implement the 2-3 zone defense. And, yes, now that he's the head coach, Blackwell plans on using the 2-3 zone now, but not exclusively.

"I got some tapes," Blackwell said. "I'll be mixing it up. But I'll use the 2-3, especially against teams that have trouble shooting. I need to give Coach (Jim) Boeheim a call and pick his brain."

Blackwell was named Osaka's coach earlier this month after playing for the fledgling team this season and getting a chance to show his teammates how the defense works.

Will doing so translate into wins? First, he'll have to translate it into Japanese.