BYU started conference play with a dominant defensive performance against Loyola Marymount, holding them to a season low 38 points. The Cougars continued to impose their will defensively and pulled away late to secure a comfortable victory.
Slowing down Eli Scott
Scott is LMU’s best player and came into the game averaging 16 points, 6 rebounds, and five assists. While he got his points and rebounds, BYU succeeded in taking away his playmaking abilities, limiting him to only his second game all season with zero assists. A big part of the gameplan was to bother him and get physical.
Scott rarely was comfortable all night with Dalton and Zac initiating contact early and using up four fouls each. The strategy ended up being quite effective in frustrating Scott and taking him out of the game at times. Look at his body language and effort in this second half possession.
Both Dalton and Zac have embraced and thrived in their roles, becoming key contributors to our defensive steps with their ability to pester opposing forwards.
One on one defense in transition
Usually in transition the offensive player has the advantage on the retreating or recovering defensive player. We found ourselves having to defend one on one in transition multiple times against the Lions and handled ourselves quite well.
All three of the defenders here do a good job of achieving the goal in this situation: make the offensive player’s attempt as hard as possible without fouling. The effort shown to get back and contest these plays is a good indicator of this team’s commitment to getting stops.
Handling the Zone with Yoeli
LMU used a matchup zone that was focused on loading up to the ball side and then just figuring things out behind. They would follow cutters through most of the time and strongly doubled every time Yoeli got a catch anywhere near the post. Here they forced a turnover
Notice how four defenders end up on one third of the floor with the guard who eventually gets the steal just kind of figuring things out on the fly. This kind of unpredictability can be hard to manage as evidenced by Yoeli’s bad turnover here. We started to manage all that traffic with a few different tactics.
First, we went ahead and played off their aggressiveness to matchup in the zone by stringing the zone out very wide.
Dalton gets pushed up very high by the aggressive guard on top which works to our benefit because it opens up a ton of room for Yoeli in the middle. He does his job getting a seal and finishes strong.
Another tactic we used a couple of times was getting Yoeli catches in the high post with space.
Again we occupy all of the defenders so Yoeli can isolate at the free throw line. Good adjustments to a defense that can get you out of rhythm.
Handling the zone with guards
The LMU zone accomplished similar objectives against our guards by packing the paint to avoid easy kickouts and baiting us to take shots that aren’t our bread and butter.
Here we tried to use one of our new favorite sets to get TJ some room but the zone adjusted nicely, showing TJ four bodies and switching onto Yoeli resulting in an awkward running jumpshot. We mitigated some of the struggles here by going to more actions off the ball.
Notice how Yoeli’s lift pulls his man out to create room for the back cut and TJ does a nice job of selling the cut. His defender thought he was just going to continue his cut into a handoff since that’s what we do a lot of times.
Another action we went to a few times in the second half was a simple down screen between two guards.
The messiness of the matchup zone is used against LMU here as they botch their defense on the simple downscreen action resulting in a Jake three. It’s great to see how diverse we can be on offense, especially in adjusting to junky defenses.
Changing it up in the post
LMU spent a lot of time aggressively doubling Yoeli on the catch and making things difficult for him.
On the kick outs we were a little too indecisive and allowed their defense to recover. This is where it’s a luxury to have a post scorer like Jake on the team.
The change in pace after so many Yoeli post ups worked nicely here. The middle man in the zone at first takes a step to Jake before making his read to not double and trying to recover to Dalton all the way on the weakside. We went to the exact same play the next possession and LMU tried to counter with a more traditional man look.
With the late double, Jake does a good job of stringing things out to create more time and space for cuts to happen. I like how Kolby doesn’t just stand but aggressively steps towards the hoop causing Connor’s defender, who is already lost at this point, to commit to him and leave Connor wide open. Being able to go from aggressive doubles to softer ones with Jake provided a nice change of pace that allowed us to use the same actions we wanted to get to with Yoeli
BYU is currently on a streak of three games with double digit deflections and set a season high of 15 against LMU. It’s been a huge part of our defensive success all season and has been bolstering our defense leading to steals and disrupting offensive sets.
Here TJ causes a turnover and prevents a bucket on LMU’s lob play coming out of a timeout. As has been the theme from this game, simple effort is sometimes all that’s needed to be impactful on defense and this team is consistently putting together game after game of doing the little, but impactful, things on defense. That defensive effort is what it will take to navigate conference play and avoid upsets as BYU seeks to stay in the NCAA tournament conversation.