BYU basketball: Cougs have to learn to play offense without Childs

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

On the young season, the 2017-18 BYU basketball team has enjoyed some stellar play from sophomore forward Yoeli Childs. But when he hasn’t been on the floor, the offense hasn’t been smooth.

Let’s get one thing straight: I think the 2017-18 BYU basketball team is going to be good. Better than most people think.

But watching Yoeli Childs dominate Westminster to the tune of 25 points, 13 rebounds and a pair each of blocks and assists, while simultaneously salivating at his potential, I had an unsettling realization:

The Cougars don’t look nearly as good without him on the floor.

Now, that should be obvious. If the best player on any team sits on the bench, naturally that team will take a step back. The Cavs without LeBron cannot possibly replicate how they play with LeBron.

Instead, a good team changes to emphasize the strengths of the players they do have in the lineup. They find ways to be successful without a particular guy, because not even King James is durable enough to be in the game all the time. All the more so for Yoeli Childs.

But the offensive lull when Yoeli was out was just a little too large for comfort.

With him in, the Cougars’ offense ran smoothly, had options, and looked confident, even if Childs wasn’t at the center of the play. And when he sat, and the three-ball wasn’t dropping, they looked a little bit lost.

Westminister as a team was technically sound, especially on defense. But an eight-minute gap in the second half with no scoring against a DII squad is definitely cause for worry.

Finding the right offensive combo

It seems like BYU basketball’ss offense without Yoeli is going to rely on a drive-and-kick game to open shooters. But if the triple isn’t speaking to the Cougars (like it hasn’t much in their two exhibition games so far) and no one steps up, the attack may churn to a halt.

And that will cost them games.

In fairness, the sample size is small. And head coach Dave Rose almost certainly sees this problem. That’s why Childs only clocked about 24 minutes against the Griffins, most of them in the first half. Rose was looking for lineups that will score without his sophomore star exerting gravity.

Keep an eye on that as the early season continues. Because there are definitely guys on the roster who can put the ball in the hoop if they get put in the right position.

Lots of players that can step up

If the Cougars want to stand a chance when the postseason comes knocking, it’s vital for TJ Haws in particular to carry the offensive load when Childs has to rest, or gets himself in foul trouble, or (hammer on wood) might get dinged up.

Last season, Haws showed he can smash a game open with aggressive bombs and wily play. He just needs to borrow a bit more of big bro Ty’s consistency.

With Haws a bit erratic, a finally-healthy Elijah Bryant has been a big option so far. If he can get back some of explosive attacks on the basket to compliment his burgeoning outside shot, that can go a long way.

Support down low from improved players like Luke Worthington and Dalton Nixon can also help a lot. That is, if they can shed their foul-magnet labels. Refs take one look at them and start to draw breath to blow the whistle.

Jahshire Hardnett could also really get them moving in tough spots with his penetration and ball control, as long as (once again) someone can hit open shots from deep. Zac Seljaas can hit them, or take a big chunk out of lead, if he has the same stroke as his freshman year.

The team’s amped up defensive mindset will also play a role. If they are truly committed, it may even save their bacon once or twice.

But you can’t go long gaps without putting the ball in the hole.

For this BYU basketball team, the difference between a good season and a great one may be how much they can score without relying on Yoeli Childs.