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BYU Basketball Film Study: Southern Utah and Houston

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 15 BYU at Houston Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After a pair of wins last week, one unimpressive and one very impressive, BYU continues to survive without Yoeli Childs. Here are a few things BYU hoops is doing well and things they can improve on.

Offensive Action

We have a few actions built into our offense that are giving defenses fits right now. Hitting a single high post with cutters was a staple for us last week.

Dalton has three looks here. First Jake’s back cut is switched out between the SUU defenders but as Zac comes to cut off Dalton into a fake screen, his defender stays home anticipating another switch. From there it’s an easy slip to an open layup. Beautiful basketball here.

Screen someone

While a lot of our cutting options have been working well, we haven’t seen as much success with screening people open. Here we have a play that we use to try and get Jake a catch on the block.

Two things result in Jake not being being able to get a catch on the block. First, Kolby doesn’t adjust his screen at all. Often, as a big, you have a half second to shuffle over a little and still set a quality screen but Kolby doesn’t do that here. Second, Jake just runs straight through without trying to set up his man. This is something I’ve seen hamper our offense quite a bit but we occasionally get it right.

Notice Dalton slightly adjust his screen and Jake gives just a small hesitation. The result is a catch in his spot and a bucket.

Passing up Threes

Our offense is built on an age old inside out basketball principle. Being so small we achieve this through drives and kicks, but sometimes we fall in love with the drive a little too much.

Here we have great penetration leading to a drift pass on the baseline. TJ has a pretty good look but opts to drive again, hitting a wide open Zac with a skip pass. Instead of just pulling the three, Zac drives, the momentum stalls, and the defense can reset. The end result is a highly contested two pointer. I would have been perfectly fine if TJ or Zac shot it. This offense is built to produce these types of good looks at the three, so we should take more of these open ones.

Defensive Rotations

Coach Pope has mentioned multiple times that they spent most of the summer working on defense and it shows. Check out the double then the rotation out of it on this play.

On the double team, everyone zones up off their defender well. Jake knows he has first pass out so he shades there and Connor takes Jake’s man who is cutting down the middle. On the pass out, Alex switches up to Connor’s man to discourage a fast reversal and Evan is told by pretty much everyone to recover to the weak side. It’s awesome to see this level of execution.

Team Rebounding

Every box score has a category for a “Team Rebound” which happens when the ball is knocked out of bounds on the rebound. Against Houston we had 5 team rebounds, here’s one of them.

The great part about this rebound is the focus everyone has on securing the glass. All four off-ball players make contact with their man and even though no one secures the rebound for themselves, the concerted effort produces the desired result.


Some years ago, when Roy Hibbert was still a big deal, the term “verticality” really started gaining traction. This is basically jumping straight up in the air as a defender to contest an attempt but avoid fouling. This seems to be a focus of our current staff as every player on the roster is doing this well.

Jake’s ability to stop retreating and then jump straight up makes this attempt more difficult and, more importantly, avoids sending the guard to the free throw line. Last year opponents averaged 21 free throw attempts a game and so far we are only allowing 15 a game. Our ability to contest without fouling is a big part of our defensive success.

Creating Advantages

Here’s another option out of the play I mentioned above that we reverted to when Kolby got pushed out of the high post.

Instead of going for the handoff, Connor runs right into a screen for TJ. This screen handoff combination puts the defender behind TJ and forces the big to commit. After the dump off to Kolby we get to the advantage we want: an open roll man that the defense has to cover. We didn’t get a score here but this is a great action that opens up multiple opportunities.

Pro Layups

After learning the basics about layups there are a whole series of what some call “pro layups” that you can learn. Our guys clearly favor the variety where you jump off the “wrong” foot (right foot on right side) or use your inside hand (right hand left side). The purpose of this is to try to beat the defender to the rim which makes sense for a team that isn’t as athletic as many of it’s opponents. However, the risk is it exposes the shot more.

We tried this type of shot multiple times against Houston and many times it was blocked, especially on the left side. The athletes they had were able to elevate fast enough that the shot attempt wasn’t beating them. Now, I’m actually a huge fan of this type of layup; it can keep the defender just enough off timing that you can get a clean look. Check out how TJ uses the wrong footed version later in the game to barely avoid a block and get the bucket.

That being said, we probably went to it too much in this game. What I loved seeing was Connor deciding to use a more physical approach to his drives.

Still a tough finish but rather than try and use finesse to not get blocked, he carves out space by jumping into the defender, negating their ability elevate and block his shot. Combinations of these type of layups will keep shot blockers on their toes and could lead to more success at the rim.


Through the last few years, we’ve established somewhat of a reputation for being efficient on our “out of bounds under” opportunities. We started off a little vanilla this year but have been getting more complex in our plays.

I really like this play because it ends up clearing the entire side for the big. If the big can get a good seal on his man, he doesn’t have to worry about anything but going up strong. Kolby does a good job of that here (and Jake sets a nice screen) and uses a nice pump fake to get the bucket.

Winning Plays

BYU has put itself in a position to win every game this year. Against San Diego State we weren’t able to make those winning plays defensively but that changed in our two games last week. Evan and Alex made some clutch plays defensively and we got the job done on that end against Houston as well in their last possession.

TJ does a good job of staying in front and getting his hand on the ball and somehow not fouling the shooter at the end of the shot clock. Alex closes out under control after the loose ball and Jake comes all the way from the top to secure the rebound. Everyone does their job. With that and a few lucky bounces you win games.