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Scouting Report: Utah Utes

Utah enters tonight’s contest with a record of 8-2 after four consecutive wins including victories over BYU and, most recently, Weber State.  The Utes began the season with an impressive road win over Nevada and also knocked off Minnesota before losing at Coastal Carolina by 22 and also dropping one to Tulane.  Utah boasts the second youngest roster in the country with ten freshman, four sophomores, one junior, and one senior.  While this team is very young, they do have some experience as three of their four leading scorers all started for a significant portion of the season a year ago.  That group is led by Sophomore Timmy Allen who averages over 20 points and 7 rebounds per game.  The Utes are likely to be without their starting point guard Rylan Jones this evening after he sustained a rib injury and had to leave the Central Arkansas game on December 7th and missed Saturday’s matchup with Weber State.  Jones, a freshman and son of former Utah basketball player and current Director of Basketball Operations Chris Jones, started the first nine games and is averaging 11.7 points and over 5 assists per game.



#11 Both Gach:  6’6″ 183 lbs, Sophomore Guard

11.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.6 apg

Primary ball-handler (with Rylan Jones out).  Shooter!  No 3’s.  Have to be there to take away catch-and-shoot 3’s.  Get over the ballscreens.  Chase him off down screens and get over flare screens.  Have to be tight on him.  47 of 94 shots have been 3’s.  Once you take away the catch-and-shoot 3 he is going to look to drive it right.  Would rather shoot the pull-up than take it all the way to the rim.  Much better free throw shooter than finisher so don’t bail him out by fouling.  Play with your hands up as he gets to the basket; long enough to try and finish over you.  Do not help off of him if he doesn’t have it.  Find him in transition when another guard or Allen brings it.  Aggressive offensive player.  Contest everything.  Good ball-handler, but not a true point guard.  Pressure him as much as you can without letting him smoke you going right.  More shots than points.

#5 Jaxon Brenchley:  6’5″ 190 lbs, Freshman Guard

5.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 42.9% 3pt

SHOOTER!!! No 3’s!!!  35 of 44 shots have been 3’s.  All he wants to do is catch-and-shoot.  Have to be tight on him and take it away.  Tighten up as the ball comes towards you.  Chase him off down screens and get over flares.  Find him in transition.  If he isn’t dribbling it you aren’t close enough.  Will look to drive right if he has to, but he just wants to shoot it.  Pressure him when he has it.  Doesn’t want to have to dribble a ton.  No 3’s!!!

#1 Timmy Allen:  6’6″ 204 lbs, Sophomore Forward

20.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.7 apg

Best player.  Very strong.  DRIVER.  No right hand drives!!!  You can closeout short to him to take away the drive.  Really likes to turn his drives into post moves when he gets cut off.  Does drive it left some so that he can spin back to his right.  Always comes back to his right hand!  Just wall up and be physical as he drives it.  When he catches it in the post, or posts you up out of a drive, he is looking to score it over his right hand over his left shoulder.  When he faces up he likes to start to his left to come back right.  Be physical on his right shoulder!  Will bring it in transition when he gets the rebound.  Have to get the ball stopped.  When he doesn’t have it on the perimeter you can help off of him some, but have to be aware of him cutting to the basket.  Help cover up the roll man off a ballscreen if you are guarding Allen on the weak side.  Make it as hard on him as possible.  No layups.  No right hand drives.  Contest everything.

#21 Riley Battin:  6’9″ 234 lbs, Sophomore Forward

10.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg

Stretch 4.  Very good shooter.  No catch-and-shoot 3’s.  After you take away the catch-and-shoot he is going to look to drive it right.  No right hand drives.  Prefers to shoot it and drive it right but does post up a decent amount too.  When he catches it in the post he is looking to score over his left shoulder with his right hand.  When he is on the perimeter don’t help off of him.  Good at ducking-in when they are running their ballscreen stuff.  Don’t fall asleep and let him get a deep post catch because you aren’t paying attention.  Pressure him as much as you can on the perimeter without getting smoked by a right hand drive.  Box him out.

#35 Branden Carlson:  7’0″ 218 lbs, Freshman Center

7.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.0 bpg

Long, tall post.  Really wants to score with his right hand over his left shoulder in the post.  Looking to catch it on the roll for a dunk or duck you in for a deep post catch so he can score it quickly.  If you are physical with him and get him off the block his percentages will go down significantly.  Doesn’t want the game to be physical.  Our ballscreen coverage has to be good to take him away on the roll.  That is where he is most comfortable.  They really like to throw it to him on the roll.  Have to give ground and stay between him and the basket.  Have to stay on the midline when you are guarding on the weak side to be ready to help on the roll.  No right hand drives if he faces up from the post.  BOX OUT!!! Good offensive rebounder.


#20 Mikael Jantunen:  6’8″ 219 lbs, Freshman Forward

7.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg

Skilled forward.  True post.  Extremely efficient.  Shooting 74.3% from the field.  Have to make it as difficult as possible on him.  Wants to score it over his left shoulder with his right hand in the post.  Be physical and make him catch it off the block.  No right hand drives!  Just throw a hand up if he shoots it but guard against the drive and be ready for him to finish with his right hand.  Looking for opportunities to duck you in.  Have to be ready to box him out.  Plays very hard.  Excellent offensive rebounder.  Averaging over 2 offensive rebounds per game.

#25 Alfonso Plummer:  6’1″ 175 lbs, Junior Guard

6.1 ppg

Lefty.  Shooter.  No 3’s!!!  38 of 48 shots have been 3’s.  Very aggressive trying to squeeze them off.  No catch-and-shoot 3’s.  He only wants to catch-and-shoot 3’s.  If he isn’t dribbling you aren’t tight enough.  Tighten up as the ball comes towards you.  Don’t help off of him.  Chase him off down screens and get over flares.  Find him in transition.  Pressure him when he has it.  No left hand drives.

#13 Eli Ballstaedt:  6’5″ 190 lbs, Freshman Guard 

2.5 ppg

Shooter!!!  No 3’s!!!  15 of 16 shots have been 3’s.  Only looking to catch-and-shoot.  Will squeeze them off.  Get over down screens and over flares.  Find him in transition.  No help off of him.  If he isn’t dribbling you aren’t tight enough to him.  Pressure him when he has it.  No 3’s!!!

#32 Lahat Thioune:  6’10” 218 lbs, Redshirt Freshman Center

2.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg

Backup post player.  Wants to score over his left shoulder with his right hand in the post.  Mostly looking for duck-ins or to catch it on the roll.  Good offensive rebounder.  BOX OUT!!!


The Utes run a lot of different ballscreen actions and will primarily be in a 4-around-1 Motion offense or in a ballscreen continuity.  Some of their half-court stuff has some Triangle principles to it as well.  Without Rylan Jones at point guard they will probably be a little more Motion and set heavy as opposed to ballscreens.

Ballscreen/Handoff Continuity- They will begin in a Secondary alignment (guards in the corners, one forward in the trail spot and the other at the front of the rim) and handoff to the trailer.  He immediately either hits the wing and sprints to set a ballscreen or will dribble handoff with the guard on the wing.  As the ball is dribbled back towards the left the player on the wing will cut to the rim and out the back side.  The ball is the handed off to the guard coming out of the corner and the post on the block will work his way up to set a ballscreen for the guard coming off the handoff.  If the ball is dribbled back to the right wing then it is the same action.  Backdoor, handoff, ballscreen.  In this clip, as the shot clock winds down, #1 Allen stays in the corner so he can “replace” instead of cutting through.  This type of constant movement is what we will see a lot tonight.  The defender guarding #35 on the perimeter should have been in the paint to cut Allen off there.

Triangle Ballscreen- This is probably their favorite half-court ballscreen action.  It starts in a little triangle-pinch post alignment.  As a forward gets to the elbow they will clear out the side and the point guard enters the ball to the elbow.  He then immediately cuts over top the forward and gets a little handoff from him or will just cut to the corner if he can’t get the ball.  Either way, the point guard will then come back off a ballscreen from the forward and they are just into their flow from there.  Below, they end up in a Gach/Carlson ballscreen which will happen A LOT tonight.  The weak side movement occupies the defenders and lets them play in space on the left side.  One note to take from this clip:  as Timmy Allen cuts to the right corner his defender goes WAY too far out with him.  See how his defender ends up with 2 feet outside of the paint.  Instead, he should have never crossed the “midline” or front of the rim which would have allowed him to stop Carlson on the roll.

Stacked Ballscreen- Here is a set ballscreen action they will call in the half-court.  This is definitely something they could run this evening without Jones.  The “4” and “5” men stand shoulder-to-shoulder at the top of the key as the ball-handler comes off the screen to the right wing and pushes the guard in the corner through on the baseline.  The “4” man, steps off to the wing and the “5” man immediately turns and sets another ballscreen for the ball-handler to come back to his left.  Really looking to throw it to him on the roll here because just like the first clip, the backside is occupied with Gach coming off a baseline screen.  You have to stay with #11 Gach, but in the clip look at how far separated the defender got from him when he recognized the screen.  They should have just communicated the switch so the defender could stay in the paint to try and defend the basket.

Allen Postup- Simple action to get Timmy Allen the ball off the block.  Point Guard hits the trailer who immediately swings it to the wing and cuts to the rim and out to the right corner.  PG and the “5” man set a double screen for Allen coming from the right wing to get a catch off the left block.  He will come out as far as he needs to in order to get a catch.  Pretty good offensive spacing in the clip below.  Good job by #11 Gach’s defender stunting at Allen in the post.  #15 guarding Allen needed to be more physical on his left shoulder to keep him from getting it into the paint.  Also allows him to get even further to his right and finish without being between him and the basket.  We have to have a better effort on Allen than this.


Expect to see a mix of man-to-man and 2-3 zone this evening.  When they go 2-3 zone they will extend it to a 2-2-1 soft press back to 2-3, especially after makes.  They are a long, athletic defense that can switch a lot of screens when needed.  When they go zone they will really widen out and make you beat them with dribble penetration.  Their soft press is just to make you take a little longer to get into the offense.

Keys to the Game

  • Team effort on #1 Allen.  He is an all-conference level player that will require a great effort to contain.  No right hand drives for him!!!  No easy baskets.  Have to be physical and try to keep him out of the paint.  Be physical on his left shoulder.  Contest everything!
  • No 3’s for #11, #21, #25, #5, or #13.  #11 Gach is a good all-around player and #21 Battin can score it in the post as well, but the other guys ONLY want to catch-and-shoot.  Have to be tight on these guys.  No help off of them.  Be there on the catch to take away the 3’s!  Pressure them!
  • Control the glass.  Utah comes in with a +8.2 rebounding differential.  We have to limit them to one shot per possession and have guys crashing the offensive glass as well to try and get a couple easy buckets.
  • Pressure the ball.  With starting point guard Rylan Jones out, they will be without a true point guard.  #11 Gach will serve as the primary ball-handler.  Anytime your man has the ball we need to be pressuring them as much as we can without getting driven by.  Make the ball-handler uncomfortable.  This should be a game where your on-the-ball defense takes them out of their offense and forces some turnovers.


Article written by Brandon Ramsey