BYU basketball: Cougs still need improvement despite changes in scheme

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

Across two weeks, BYU basketball lost to Saint Mary’s at home, and dropped a road game to a bad WCC team. This despite the schematic changes made in the offseason to prevent this very thing from happening.

If any BYU basketball fans believed the new schemes for this season would magically improve the team, they just had a rude awakening.

Media and fans have been lining up to shower praise on the Heath Schroyer-inspired offensive and defensive sets the Cougars have been running this year. And indeed, the possession-value-based half court offense has its advantages. When combined with a strong defensive focus, especially on 3-pointers, it can keep you in a game when the shots aren’t falling.

But as the Cougars discovered against the University of the Pacific Saturday night, if a team solves you from 2-point range, a slow pace can also keep them in the game. Even a sub-500 team.

And that’s all the U of P’s of the world need—a chance to stay within shouting distance to steal one.

From run-n-gun to ground-n-pound

The up tempo game of former years had weaknesses, and WCC foes exposed them. A shooting drought could doom you against an efficient team, and did, time and time again. But unlike the grind-it-out style, it was great at running teams right out of the gym when it was clicking.

Once shots started to fall, they could fall in an avalanche. And should an opponent make a run, the running team would have built a cushion.

Then after that slower set offense tired from a furious rally, a transition team would put them away with easy buckets and open shots. A grinding, efficient offensive set can’t do that. Often, it can maintain only a small lead, only to let a still-energetic foe make a rally and snatch the game by a point with only a few successful offensive possessions.

It’s also hard to play fast and catch up if you aren’t used to playing fast. So if the other team gets a 10+ point advantage, you have an uphill battle just to get back in it.

The point being, every scheme and team has its strong suit and its chink in the armor.

So if you’ve been pretending that the run-and-gun that was a Dave Rose hallmark was the reason the Cougars were losing to bad teams in conference, and all would be well now that BYU runs it just as slow as other WCC teams, it’s time to stop daydreaming.

This is a good BYU basketball team that played a bad game. They lost to a mediocre team that played a good one. And scheme is just one part of the equation.