By Kevin Humpherys
FOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUSS! A chorus of cheers rings out after every Fouss dunk in the Marriott center. But why? Why do we love Fouss? What makes him so fun to watch?
I wanted to do this deep dive since Trevin Knell talked about Fouss during The Coug Connect Catch Up. The comparison Trevin makes changed how I watched Fouss over the last few games and motivated me dive deeper.
The name of the Baylor forward: Mark Vital
If you don’t remember him, you can watch his highlights here.
I loved this comparison from Trevin for a few reasons.
The body composition: Both guys are undersized forwards that are incredibly strong and have broad body types. They are both roughly 6’6, 240 pounds – the prototypical NFL tight end comparison.
Not only are they similar physically but they both have motors and do the dirty work: setting screens, getting rebounds, and bringing the physicality for their teams.
Here is a prime example of the dirty work.
What I love the most about Fouss and Vital is the role they play as connectors in the ball screen offenses.
We could debate the differences all day long so to clarify what I mean:
Vital has freaky bounce.
So no, I do not expect Fouss to be catching lobs and switching 1-5 as Mark Vital did at Baylor.
I do think Fouss can be much more explosive than he has shown this season.
Sure, Vital is more versatile but Fouss is better with his back to the basket.
Here is just one example.
For much of the season, I questioned Fouss’s role next season playing in the Big 12 conference. I just did not know if an undersized forward could work playing in that conference.
Seeing the success Mark Vital was able to carve out for himself and the emergence of KJ Adams (6’7 undersized center) starting at Kansas helped me see the perfect role for Fouss in the Big 12.
While undersized, Fouss still can dominate the boards because of his strength and positioning. When the offense is working, you often see Fouss position himself for offensive rebounds.
Fouss may not be as explosive as Vital, but he makes up for it in his strength and force. Both are forces in transition. Fouss gets great position and runs the floor well. In fact, I wish he would get out and run more. But I will get to why he does not later on.
Fouss does a great job of getting position behind the defender and giving the passer an easy passing window.
Fouss runs the floor hard and is wide open at the rim. He should do something to get Robinson’s attention, but the ball finds its way back to him because he ran the floor.
The thing I love the most about Fouss is that he is the connector for the BYU offense. Most teams in college basketball run a variation of ball screen continuity offense. This is the reason he is not the first one down the court; it is so that he can run the offense.
These ball screen offenses involve many dribble handoffs (DHO’s) and ball screens throughout every possession. Usually, the player running these actions is the power forward or center. Fouss has become BYU’s best “connector” on the team. He is in charge of making sure that the ball rotates from side to side and creating space for his teammates in DHO’s and as a screener. For my money, Fouss has become the best connector BYU has had since Mark Pope’s first season.
Spencer Johnson crosses the timeline and immediately gets the ball to Fouss. He and George run a simple ball screen action and George knocks down the easy jump shot.
Here, Fouss and George run a nice two-man action where Fouss has the patience to let George get open against an aggressive defender.
As the connector in the offense, Fouss usually does not look for his shot and gets the ball side to side. Against LMU and Pacific, he made them pay for disrespecting his other abilities as well.
Sidenote: Notice how early Rudi is giving the ball up here. Teams often try and pressure Rudi into turning the ball over bringing up the floor. Giving the ball to Fouss to initiate the offense is a great counter to take pressure off Rudi.
Fouss decides to take advantage of his defender as he drives past to get the foul. If Fouss is able to attack defenders with the floor spread, he can add a dynamic wrinkle to this BYU offense.
Here Fouss takes advantage of almost eight feet of space and knocks down the three. A fun moment for everyone, I am not sure if Fouss will ever be a shooting threat at BYU.
And that is okay, he does not need a jump shot to be a great player for BYU.
IF Fouss can be a shooting threat from the outside… it changes the entire scope of this BYU team’s potential and his potential career earnings.
Here is to more Fouss 3’s!
As a Phoenix Suns fan, I spent a decade believing in the “Bright Future Suns” while the team won 20 games a year for 5 years in a row.
That period was necessary for the growth for their young players.
In college basketball growth is expedited, but I truly believe in this core of “Bright Future Cougs” with Fousseyni Traore being a key piece leading the way back to the NCAA tournament.
Of course, Fouss has flaws. Every player has flaws.
After watching what Fouss has done in his career so far, I am confident he will continue to grow his game. He is going to be a great, great player for BYU. It just might not show up on the stat sheet on a nightly basis.