Boise State Basketball’s ’Pick & Pop’

For the casual basketball fan, it may be a little overwhelming trying to figure out what the Boise State Basketball team runs on offense. At first it seems complex, all the ball movement and swinging the ball side to side can leave many in disillusion; even opposing teams.

Before Boise State steps into their half court sets, they run something called “false motion.” The objective is swinging the ball side to side – making the defense move & stretch. The motion brings a sense of rhythm, which can be beneficial to half court sets that can be somewhat stagnant without a “false motion.” This forces opposing defenses to always keep their guard up. For Boise State, it’s a tool to keep the ball moving while being patient, waiting for the open look.

When you breakdown Boise State’s effective half court set look of the “Pick & Pop” it’s actually quite simple.

The first couple of shots are breif examples of the false motion that prepares Nick Duncan for a big three against Wyoming. Boise State defeated the Cowboys 72-63:

 photo 1_zps6de4cb63.jpg

Boise State PG Mikey Thompson had dribbled on the right side of the court within transition. This is where the false motion starts taking place. You will see a ‘4-out’.(Four players out beyond the arc, one inside the arc) Hanstad is in the corner, Iggy free throw line extended, & Duncan at the top of the key. Notice that Thompson has the option to penetrate on the first look from Watkins’ screen, but he passes.

 photo 2_zpsd2481353.jpg

As soon as Duncan gets the ball, notice that he doesn’t even look at the hoop. This is the false motion. Swinging the ball side to side. Duncan will pass to Iggy which directs Watkins to the ball side block.

 photo 3_zps1ae12cf2.jpg

Iggy dribble penetrates towards the block. This is to keep the pressure on Wyoming’s defense. If Hanstad’s defender had committed to helping on Iggy, than we have a different scenario where Hanstad is getting an open look either in the corner or free throw line extended.

Notice a couple of things from this look:

  • Ryan Watkins has position on his man. Watkins is a solid player with his back to the basket. BSU can look down there for an easy two out of false motions.
  • Duncan and Thompson are swapping positions.

Iggy hands the ball off to Hanstad.

 photo 4_zpse8de7993.jpg

Once again, Boise State swinging the ball side to side; making the defense stretch to where there is more spacing to attack. Hanstad quickly fires a pass to Thompson. This is where the “Pick & Pop” comes into play.

  • Notice Duncan dropping down to free throw line extended. It is essential to have great spacing if Boise State wants to have effective half court sets.

 photo 5_zpsa3815bb0.jpg

This is where Wyoming has some miscommunication and breakdown within their half court defense. Let’s break this down numerically:

  1. Duncan was free throw line extended when Hanstad was making the pass to Thompson. As soon as Thompson catches the ball, an on-ball screen is set by Duncan
  2. Mikey looks to dribble penetrate off of Duncan’s screen
  3. Watkins makes his way up towards the elbow

 photo 6_zps7aa2c1a9.jpg

  1. The Wyoming defenders have a communication breakdown & Duncan is nowhere in their area.
  2. Thompson takes two dribbles and notices Wyoming’s big man had cut off the lane to the hoop. Wyoming was showing great respect for Thompson’s ability to get to the hoop. Watkins simply uses his body & sets a screen on Duncan’s defender to give his teammate extra time to get his shot off.
  3. The Wyoming defender that was on Duncan was far behind the screen which allows Duncan to “Pop” to the top of the key.


Every movement within Boise State’s offense has a purpose. Although it looks complex, all it is is window dressing for the simple play. This was a great read by Duncan as he took what the defense gave him.

Here is video of Boise State’s “Pick & Pop.” Courtesy of CBS Sports & The Blue Turf


About Drew Vachal

Drew Vachal
I am the founder and creator of Bronco Nation News. Husband, father and an uncle.

Check Also

Boise State Broncos

Boise State Broncos men’s basketball in search of a little March madness

To provide a glimpse of what might have been for the Boise State Broncos men’s …