Welcome to the first Vanquish the Foe film session for BYU hoops! With the foreign trip this year we were treated to basketball in August which, let’s be honest, is way better than following who the third string cornerback is going to be. The team wrapped up it’s trip to Italy last week, going a perfect 4-0 against the three teams they faced and giving us our first glimpse of what Mark Pope’s iteration of the Cougar Cagers will be. Here are some of the things that stood out to me while watching the games.
Coach Pope’s offense looks to push the pace and really doesn’t care who does it. Yoeli Childs, Gavin Baxter, and even Kolby Lee brought the ball up in transition at different times in Italy (with mixed results). Yoeli especially seems to have tightened up his handle as evidenced by this run out where he finishes things with an assist to Zac after a nice behind the back move.
This offense is going to be very aggressive, looking to get the ball up the floor as fast as it can for a look at the rim, early post up, or pass ahead three. This puts stress on the defense and hopefully leads to a lot of open looks and free throws. Check out how fast we get out and run after a make against Stella Azzura.
Screens and back cuts
Many of our offensive sets look to terminate with a post entry that leads to some simple two man screen action, something we’ve done quite a bit in the past when we’ve had a strong post presence. We used the back cut option a ton in Italy and got some good looks out of it. Kolby misses the cut in the first clip but our other bigs did a nice job of delivering that pass to the slashing guard. The back cut and slips to the basket by the screener were so heavily utilized that eventually the guard coming off the screen for a three opened up.
We also got into a similar action through a horns set leading to a stagger screen. Here Alex Barcello does a nice job of slipping the screen and Kolby doesn’t miss the cut this time. As a side note, I really like what Alex brings to this team. He’s going to be very valuable on the scout team as an offensive threat and a pesky defender.
Let the big men work
It was apparent that this staff is going to let the big men go to work down low. In the two games that Kolby played in, he was tied for the highest field goal attempts on the team, most of them coming from post ups. Every big got their turn with post touches and I liked what I saw from them as a group. Most of Gavin’s touches last year came off of dump-offs from guards but he got more opportunities to isolate in the post. Here the guards do a nice job of spacing to give him room while also occupying any swiping guards with their split screen action. Gavin does a good job of being decisive, utilizing his length to get a decent look, and finishing with his left.
Defensively, the team showed a nice ability to jump passing lanes and pressure the ball handler. We had at least nine steals in every game with many of them coming off of release passes by the offense. Here Blaze handles the screen very well and shows what the guard’s responsibility is on ball screens: close the space between the defender and the ball handler and knock him off of his line as he comes off the screen. Off ball, TJ gets just far enough into the passing lane to make his man nervous and force the turnover.
Yoeli Childs is (still) very good at basketball
BYU’s main man had a productive trip in Italy averaging 16.3 points, 8.6 rebounds (4 offensive), and 4.3 assists per game. He also averaged a block and a steal in the three games he played and was especially impactful against a tough Stella Azzura squad that waxed Stanford by 27. He made a lot of plays on both ends of the floor but I was really impressed by the following sequence. After handling the defensive pressure, he notices Colby springing free and puts good touch on his one-handed pass to the corner. I also really like his recognition to attack the two-on-one on the weak side with a skip pass to Evan after tracking down the offensive rebound.
Il mondo è la nostra università
Sans the Zac Seljaas foot injury, the Italy trip did exactly what it was supposed to. With a new coaching staff, this year’s excursion was perfectly timed as the the team got a chance to gel on the court, get a good feel for the new offensive and defensive principles, and get challenged by a solid opponent. The bench guys also got a lot of minutes, which hopefully pays off when the season starts and we are down two rotation players. I was very encouraged by what I saw on both ends of the floor, as well as the overall energy and effort the team showed. Can’t wait to see BYU hoops in action again.