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BYU Basketball Film Study: Portland and San Francisco

Take a look at some of the finer points of BYU’s wins last week

byu yoeli childs Jaren Wilkey / BYU Photo

BYU has established it’s position as the front runner for the two seed in the conference tournament and after dispatching Portland on the road and San Francisco at home the Cougars are on a four game winning streak. Here are some of the little things BYU did to take care of business and keep themselves solidly in NCAA tournament projections.

Flex OBU

In both games last week, BYU found good success running a flex action (cross screen to down screen) out of an in-bounding situation. Against Portland we were able to get two people committed to the cross screen opening up Jake for a three after the action.

Against San Francisco we once again got the defenders twisted up, this time resulting in a dunk for Yoeli.

Jake does a great job head hunting here and essentially letting his defender screen Yoeli’s. As our offense playbook has matured throughout the season, we are starting to get a lot more quality looks out of these out of bounds under situations.

Getting to help early

Our defense has started to get a lot more aggressive in help situations. Often the help defender is instructed to meet any penetration outside the key and we did that very well against Portland and for most of the game against USF. Here Connor forces a travel from the rolling big.

Our backside rotations have been pretty solid all season which allows us to get this aggressive, especially against teams that aren’t great three point threats. Notice that Jake is already rotating to cover the baseline drift pass and Yoeli is staying zoned up ready to recover to either the wing or the top.

While we did this for most of the game against USF, when our defense waned later in the game this was one of those things that went out the window a little bit. Look how late we are to help on this possession.

This kind of lapse was what Coach Pope was frustrated with after the game against the Dons but should be an easy fix since we’ve been solid with it in the last few games.

Play Timing

Successfully running a play hinges on your ability to create just enough space to get a quality look at a basket. There’s nothing particularly special about this play from the Portland game but I really liked how crisp the movement and timing was.

There’s a lot working well here but I’ll start with Jake. He kinda floats out to the weakside and lulls his defender to sleep before changing pace to come up ready to shoot. Alex also does a great job of making it look like isn’t doing anything until he busts into setting a down screen for Jake. The synchronization between he, Jake, and Kolby is beautiful as he breaks into the screen right as Kolby turns and dribbles. Beautiful offense is beautiful.

Point Yo

Yoeli has led the break a few times this year but it’s been a while since we saw him do what he did here against the Pilots.

Coach Pope talked earlier in the season about getting Yoeli to do things like lead the break so it’s good to see him take advantage of the opportunity when it arises.

Yoeli Off Dribble

Speaking of playing off the dribble, Yoeli has shown an increased comfort and ability to penetrate this season and that was on full display against San Francisco. A lot of times last year Yoeli would try and force a euro step which led to some awkward finishes and travels when defenders beat him to his spot. Against the Dons, though, he showed a lot of control, dribbling at his pace to get to the shot he wanted.

This growth and fine tuning off the bounce just adds another facet to an already dangerous game. It will be interesting if teams start to feel the need to send a hard swipe to try and disrupt these kind of drives.

50/50 plays

There’s been a lot of talk about how all this BYU team wants is to win. One of the hallmarks of teams trying to do that is their ability to win 50/50 balls. You don’t always reap immediate benefits from that extra effort but things panned out well against the Dons.

There are a few things I like about this set of clips. The first is that our best player is diving on the floor, running down long rebounds, and clearly showing how bought in he is to this team. The other is the fact that out of four clips, there were three different players getting in the mix (Yoeli, Jake, and Dalton). These plays were a great microcosm of this team backing up all their rhetoric about sacrificing to win.

A “good shoulder”

One of the phrases you’ll hear as the bigs talk about what they focus on and what they are being taught is a “good shoulder.” Last week’s games showed some good examples of what that means. The principle is that you use your shoulder to create space as you turn so you can get off a clean jump hook. Kolby does a pretty good job of that here against Portland.

Playing in the post is a battle of leverage and momentum and if you can get your momentum to stay toward the basket often you “win” in the form of getting off a good jump hook. Notice how Kolby gives a slight pause before his gather then works to make sure that as he steps into his gather, his upper body is in sync with his gather step. This synchronization ensures that his shoulder is between the defender and his shot and his momentum stays forward. A big key to a good shoulder is making sure you are initiating the contact as you gather so you don’t get knocked off your line. Here are a few more instances of a strong shoulder from last week’s games.

Yoeli and Kolby may have been a touch too aggressive with their lean and Yoeli’s arm in the last clip but they did a great job of making sure their feet were solid and ended up creating a ton of space for their shots. When done right you will be able to create enough space against the defender without getting an offensive foul called on you.

Though it’s a simple move, the timing and footwork can get tricky so an alternative that Yoeli likes to use instead of the gather step is a hop.

He employed the same move against Jimbo Lull, who was considerably more massive than any of Portland’s bigs.

Yoeli doesn’t do as good of job initiating contact here but shows the strength this variant brings of maintaining your balance and and some momentum. Lull didn’t drive through Yoeli’s shoulder on the gather so Yoeli was able to rise up into a nice solid jump hook. Coach Pope and Coach Burgess have mentioned before that when it comes to post play they like to keep things simple. The “good shoulder” is one of those simple things that, if done correctly, can make your life much easier as a post player and help you be more effiecient.