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BYU Basketball Film Study: Boise State

BYU v Boise State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

BYU found itself in a familiar position last week with a close game against Boise State. After making winning plays against Southern Utah and Houston, terrible shooting and untimely errors doomed the Cougars as they were unable to pull off the win. Despite the end result, BYU still showed the ability to adapt and put itself in positions to compete.

Offensive Wrinkles

This offense continues to grow and evolve as it builds on its basic actions. I really like the play design on this play that starts out looking like a normal screen and rescreen.

At first glance this seems like a play to get Jake going downhill with space as Dalton sprints to the corner. The pass out to relocate by Jake is great action to get him a three. A lot of actions so far have been run to get Jake post catches so it’s great to see one that gets him a look from deep.

Don’t Bail on Middle

Jake is our best back-to-the-basket option right now and he usually does a good job. He got himself into some binds in this game though as Boise State did a good job playing him straight up.

After some nice action where we use the inbounder to screen for him he gets a decent catch and goes into his back down. It looks like he was pre-determining his move here as his last backdown dribbles don’t actually go anywhere. Often in these situations the idea is to attack middle until it is taken away. If Jake were to keep backing his defender towards the middle he may have gotten a better look at a left handed jump hook or drawn the swipe man to see if anything opened up there.

Second chances

With such poor shooting performances, there were a lot of rebounds to be had. Unfortunately we weren’t able to capitalize.

BYU has pulled down 20 offensive rebounds in the last two games but only have 9 second chance points to show for it. The effort is there, BYU just has to find a way to get more production out of it.

Side note to this clip — Look at all the space Kolby has on this roll, especially as Jake draws the help deeper. Only one more week without Yoeli, and I can’t wait for this to turn into a lob when he’s playing.

Don’t stagnate

This offense is best when the ball is bouncing between different sides of the floor. Boise used a few different defensive looks for our ballscreen action, but the one that really slowed things down was the “ice” or “down” coverage. This is when the defender jumps onto the high side of the ballhandler to force them to refuse the screen while the defense zones up.

After Jake backs it out, the ball stays on the same side of the floor for the rest of the possession and results in a sub-optimal look. He probably could have done more here to attack the coverage but retreats and kicks it to TJ in the corner. Our inability to keep the ball moving hampered us in the first half, but we started to be more aggressive and attack earlier in possessions to beat this coverage.

TJ does a good job of setting up his man here, before refusing the screen then exploits that space by getting more downhill. It’s great to see adjustments made in game.


BYU played more matchup zone this game than they have all year. We had some critical breakdowns on the glass and one in overtime, but overall it worked well for us. Here we did a good job tracking each of Boise’s actions and eventually drawing an offensive foul.

Awareness is a huge part of playing matchup zone so that you can ensure you are always matched up somewhere. Notice how TJ “bumps” Jake off, since Jake has an empty side. This allows Jake to pick up the cutter popping out. Another important rotation is Zac’s as he notices there is no one low so he follows his man all the way out to the other side. The zone worked well and slowed down Boise State’s penetration and ability to draw fouls. Expect to see more of it in Maui.

Defensive Focus

In a close game where your offense is struggling, you have to be very focused on defense. Zac botches the ballscreen coverage a little here.

He’s a little too slow to his show which forces him to jump out at a bad angle. Letting the guard split the screen is a death knell for your defense and Boise scores easily. For the most part, the defense played well but little mistakes like this added up.

Trust the roll

I’ve been pleased with the offense so far, but you can tell there are still pieces of it where players are figuring out what works best. Here, that ends up being a turnover.

The way Zac opens up here looks like he’s caught in between popping and rolling. TJ is obviously expecting the roll and puts a little too much mustard on the pass as well. This offense has had a lot of success with the roll and our “bigs” have been making the right plays out of it. What’s encouraging, though, is the fact that we made this play correctly later in the game.

Kolby is a still a little slow to the roll but he knows that’s where he’s going. TJ floats the pass more and we get an easy bucket. In his post-game interview, Coach Pope talked about trusting our actions more and I think this is one place where we can do that. Whether rolling or popping, we have to do it quickly and decisively.

Make the play

This game had a lot of ups and downs but at the end up the day, we ended up in a position to make plays that would keep us in the game.

This is a great call setting up some false actions. At first it looks like we might be running a play to get Jake a catch on the block but then Alex refuses. We had issues all game getting separation on ballscreens, so we use a quick pass back from TJ to get Alex a good look coming off. All of this results in a wide open three that we just don’t hit. While it’s frustrating that we weren’t able to make the plays to win, I am very encouraged by the quality looks we got at times, the ability of the team to keep grinding, and the job the coaching staff did to get good looks like this and slow down Boise with the zone.