BYU’s early season success was due in large part to a few basic basketball principles. They played great help defense, they made the extra pass, giving up a good shot for a better one, and along those same lines, they played with a team first mentality.
Starting with a Dec. 20 loss at Arizona St., they started to drift away from those basic principles. Their defense appeared to get lazy. Their passing was inaccurate and in short supply, and the cohesion of the team as a whole was lacking.
It was frustrating to see them come so close to knocking off two ranked opponents only to fall short at the end of both games.
It is hard to understand why teams change their style when it is successful, but it is not usually a conscious decision.
No one decides they want to play poorly; they simply drift into bad habits that cost them games at the end. You also cannot discount the ability of opposing teams to impose their style on their opponents. Quality teams play their style no matter what, and whatever team holds true to their gameplan is usually the victor.
Luckily for BYU fans, this team has rediscovered their style, and it is working quite beautifully. In today’s dominant victory over TCU, BYU got back to basics.
Their defense was solid, repeatedly forcing TCU to kick it back out and take challenged shots. Chris Miles has really come into his own this season on both ends of the court, but especially on the defensive end. He was consistently strong on the low block and wasn’t giving up anything easy.
On offense they suddenly remembered how to pass the ball again. They were working it inside and out, and all around the perimeter. They were taking quality shots and giving it up when someone else had a better one. I was also impressed with the guards' penetration, especially from the backups. The benefit of having such a quick, surehanded guard is immeasurable.
It was also nice to see a little fight back in the team. They seem to be playing with a little more of a killer instinct again. It is coming out at just the right time too. Now is the time for BYU to assert themselves on a national level so that when UNLV steals the most biased tournament in the country, they will still make it to the big dance.