11/11/22 BYU @ SDSU preview – Scouting BYU

After a 80-57 win over CalSt. Fullerton, the Aztecs will face rival BYU. It will be the fifth year in a row the programs will play each other. Last season the Aztecs lost on the road 66-60. They will look to avenge that loss on Friday.

General observations-

BYU has the look of Colorado State the last few years, or Nevada under Eric Musselman. Everyone in their starting lineup is between 6’3 and 6’7. Their starting center is 6’6, 250 lbs. They are a smaller team with a lot of players that can shoot as well as drive and kick.

Historically BYU is a better offensive team than defensive team. This early in the season though they have a lot of new players learning new roles, and the defense seems to be ahead of the offense.

BYU is coming off a 60-56 win against Idaho St. in which they were down with less than five minutes left and came back to win it.

How to defend BYU – Last season BYU was built off of one elite player in Alex Barcello. This season they don’t have one elite player, but they have a bunch of really good players.

This three headed monster represents BYU’s main offense.

Transfer Rudi Williams will likely be the leading scorer on the team. He’s the starting point guard for BYU, and ranked in the 86th percentile on offense last season at Coastal Carolina. He excels at shooting from the perimeter, and is a good passer as well. Fousseyni Traore is the starting center, and at 6’6 250 lbs he has a similar build to guys like David Roddy. He isn’t as skilled as Roddy was, doing most of his damage in the paint, but he is very capable of out muscling taller players to score the ball. Mensah has struggled with strong players in the past, so this will be a matchup to keep an eye on. If Mensah is getting overmathced he may lose minutes to LeDee or even Arop this game, as Arop has shown he can handle those big physical players. Gideon George is the type of all around wing every team wants. He has great size at 6’6, 210 lbs. He can dribble, pass, shoot, and defend all at above average levels. He helps out the offense with a great dtive and kick game.

BYU surrounds those key three with shooters. Once one of those three collapses the defense they kick it out to an open shooter, and even this early in the season they’re good at moving the ball.

BYU drive and kick game

Defensive communication and backside rotations will be key in this game. If a big steps up to help stop a drive and a wing rotates into the paint, that third level rotation still needs to happen or it will be an open three for BYU.

George drive and kick

One other thing that might go SDSU’s way is turnovers. BYU had a nineteen turnovers in their exhibition against NAIA Ottawa Spirit, and twenty three against Idaho St. Rudi Williams hasn’t been the primary ball handler in awhile, and that’s his job now, so he is still knocking some rust off. He gave up a bunch of steals while walking the ball up the court. If the Aztecs can pressure him they may find a similar result.

Rudi Williams turnover

The last key will be getting back in transition. Mark Pope likes to run fast teams and this team appears no different. They like to grab the rebound and run, and score fast. The Aztecs will need to get back faster and prevent the easy ones.

George attacking in transition
Williams attacking in transition

How to attack BYU –

BYU will do some switching on defense, especially if Traore isn’t involved. They like to keep Traore in the painted area in a drop coverage. The Aztecs have things like fake handoffs and high-low actions that can take advantage of the switching. Depending on the lineup BYU has on the floor a two big lineup of Mensah and LeDee could really take advatage of BYU’s lack of size. Even a pairing of Saunders and LeDee could do that as well.

On the perimeter guys like Trammel and Butler will need to make the right reads in the pick-and-roll. Drop coverage is used to encourage mid range shots. The guards will have to determine whether or not to attack the big, pull up from behind the arc, or settle for the mid range.

BYU’s defense also collapses hard into the paint when the ball gets there. Whether it’s in the post or on the drive, thier players all collapse to provide help and try and force turnovers. Aztec players should get some wide open shots from deep if they can penetrate first.

Plays to watch for –

In the tape I’ve seen I haven’t noticed any single play be run a bunch of times well. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, but I’ve only had a single pass of two games, so there are no plays to report here. Just a couple player tendencies.

George likes to drive baseline from the corner.

George, Atiki, and even Traore love shot fakes in the post. Defenders need to stay honest when defending down low.

Example of both previous observations.

Key Players (Stats from 21-22)

Rudi Williams – 14.7 pts, 4.2 rebs, 3.2 asts. Williams is an offensive sparkplug. He finished last season in the 86th percentile on offense, but only 41st percentile on defense. Expect that number to improve at BYU. He played a lot off the ball at Coastal Carolina, but he will be on ball more at BYU. He’s an above average player in most every offensive category, but he’s especially dangerous in transition.

Rudi with the assist to Waterman

Gideon George – 8.8 pts, 5.0 rebs, 1.2 asts. Gideon George is the prototypical do-it-all kind of wing. He knows how to play both on and off the ball. He is physical when he drives to the hoop, can kick out to shooters, and can shoot it himself as well. He’s even better on the defensive end where he can use his length and athleticism to get guys out of rhythm. Expect him to be the primary defender on Matt Bradley.

Fousseyni Traore – 9.5 pts, 8.5 rebs, 0.9 asts. What Traore lacks in height he makes up with girth, physicality, and length. Aztec fans will be reminded of David Roddy when watching Traore. He doesn’t have the range Roddy did, but he plays a similar game down low. His 7’2 wingspan is almost as long as Nathan Mensah’s, which helps him collect blocks and rebounds. Some of the feedback Nathan Mensah got from NBA scouts was that he needs to play stronger against physical competition. Traore will give him the chance to show that early in the season.

Noah Waterman – 8 Pts, 4 Rebs, 0.5 Asts. Waterman is a transfer from Detroit Mercy. At 6’11, 210 lbs, he is a unicorn who can handle the ball, pass, and shoot from distance. He’s a career 44% shooter from deep. Players like that can destroy defenses by pulling opposing bigs out of the paint. Guys like Mensah and LeDee should have enough foot speed to keep up, but Waterman’s presence will likely change defensive rotations and have an impact even when he’s not touching the ball.

Waterman 4 point play

X-Factor – Transition play. BYU wants to run in transition to score easy points. Early on the Aztecs have shown a similar committment to running in transition. Getting those easy points and then getting back to prevent those easy points could be the difference in the game.

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