BYU Zoom Action Deep Dive
The bread and butter of BYU’s offense this year.
It is just about everyone’s bread and butter on offense in basketball today.
Over the last 3 years, there has been an explosion in teams running zoom as their main offensive action. In high school, college, or the NBA you see zoom everywhere, run in many different ways.
If you want an in-depth analysis of zoom offense you can find many videos on youtube. Here is my favorite one:
Shoutout Hoopvision68, if you are a hoop junkie here is a BYU analysis of the 2019-2020 offense.
The bare bones of Zoom:
Zoom is a pindown followed by a handoff. It is that simple.
In the past, BYU has run a similar action to zoom. Instead, it was a dribble handoff from guard to guard followed by a middle ball screen.
This year BYU has switched to a guard to guard pindown and the big man running the dribble handoff, or zoom.
From what I can remember, BYU has run more zoom offense this year than any year previously.
Fouss (as I dove into last week) has been key to running the zoom action this year and this week he proved why Pope trusts him to make the reads and run the offense.
(I was hoping to see more drives from Fouss last week and we sure got em!)
The most common way to run zoom is for the big to dribble handoff to the guard, coming off the pindown. That keeps the screener in the strong side corner (strong side just means which side of the court the ball is on).
Here is an example.
For Rudi, they usually keep someone in the strong side corner and he attacks the middle effectively off of zoom. This is the normal way to run zoom.
Where BYU has been making a living this season and specifically the last 4 games has been the zoom counter.
In this counter, the big man fakes the dribble handoff to the first guard who clears out to the weak side, then the big will either dribble handoff or pass and screen to the pindown screener. Creating an empty corner.
Here are a couple of examples:
I have heard this zoom wrinkle described as a “thru action,” “a zoom counter,” or a “twist action.”
The important thing to know is that it sets up a 2 man action, with no one in the strong side corner.
Whenever an action is run without a player in the strong side corner I will call it empty or empty corner.
BYU likes to run empty corner ball screens out of zoom. I will call that variation of zoom, zoom empty to keep it simple.
Now let’s get to the fun part…
One of the advantages of running an empty corner ball screen is that it gives Hall the ability to manipulate the screen to go middle or baseline. Even though Hall missed, I expect this post-up to be one thing he excels at during his BYU career.
Another advantage to an empty corner ball screen is it allows Fouss to post up with space. Fouss has room to operate and the empty corner simplifies where the double teams come from, lowering the turnover risk.
For George, BYU typically runs zoom empty on the left wing so that he can get to his right hand. In this clip, Pepperdine reacts to the Fouss slip role giving George the lane to get to the basket.
Same scenario, with different coverage. The defender goes under the screen and George gets a wide-open look for three.
In this action, Robinson fakes the handoff from Fouss and comes back for the rescreen so he can get going toward the right baseline (Robinson does this a lot). He sees the help defense and makes the best pass in his BYU career to Hall for a wide-open corner three.
The absolute best shot in basketball.
Although a more broken-looking zoom action between Robinson, Fouss, and Hall, Robinson still gets the empty corner he wants and turns the corner for a vicious jam.
Another similar play for Richie taking the baseline and finding Johnson for a corner three.
Now, in the very first play against LMU they run it. Hall goes baseline to set up a Fouss dunk. The reason they run it early in games is to see what type of defensive coverages they are going to get for the rest of the game so that they can adjust.
This empty corner offense has gotten BYU a good shot almost every time since February. You can find all the possessions on youtube.
Now it’s Spencer Johnson time.
He might be my favorite player to watch running zoom empty or empty corner actions. Why?
His pace is exceptional and he usually makes the correct read.
Here are some examples of his greatness.
From watching some of those clips, you can tell the bond Fouss and Johnson have is special. Their dynamic two-man action was the reason BYU was a couple of Julian Strawther misses away from upsetting Gonzaga.
We saw the best version of Fouss last week. When he catches and explodes up toward the basket immediately, he cannot be stopped. The finishes he made against Gonzaga were fantastic.
Back to the film.
A great back door cut here by Waterman. Playing Fouss and Atiki junked up the usual space for BYU and he found an opening. Excellent pass by Johnson too. His pace creates these looks for BYU.
If you have not noticed, empty corner is the go-to end of the shot clock action for BYU. Atiki rolls hard and catches in the short roll. He probably should pass to Fouss but he still gets a decent look at the rim.
When Fouss and Atiki play out of the short roll/post and make the right reads this offense can be GREAT. Here’s a great find by Fouss:
Against Pepperdine, BYU had great success running empty corner ball screens with the bigs, and also the guards.
One of the great counters to the regular empty corner ball screen is to slip screens and cut. BYU “ghosted” screens effectively against Gonzaga and Pepperdine. An example:
First play of the game, BYU knows Pepperdine is going to try and keep two guys with the ball, so Fouss slips the screen or “ghost screens” the ball for a wide-open role.
If you ever hear someone yelling “EMPTY! EMPTY!” from the stands, that guy is probably me. It works, it was a Yoeli and Haws special. A Barcello and Harms money maker. A Johnson to Fouss wonder. And it is the Hall to Fouss staple for the next 2 years.
Maybe you noticed, I did not break down Dallin Hall much this week.