FILM: Boise State Defense is crucial to upset No. 11 Arizona

The say defense wins championships. It’s true, but it’s also true for each and every game.

Boise State Basketball’s offense is not lacking, in fact they’re one of the better teams in the West Coast in regards to offensive execution.

Commonalities among all these close losses to top programs have come down to one thing, defense. You look at the stat sheet, and Boise State is right up there on the rebounding battle.

Look a little deeper into the opposing team’s shooting percentage and you’re looking at any where from 45-55% shooting efficiency.

There’s multiple factors into the high shooting percentage, sometimes they’re transition buckets, easy dunks or a hot hand.

Turn on the film from Boise State – Arizona game last week and it’s easy to see that the Broncos missed opportunities not just missing bunnies, but a lack of focus when defending Arizona.

Arizona shot 54% from the field against the Broncos. There is some key defensive details Boise State will need to focus on to pull off the upset against the No.11 Wildcats, Sunday afternoon.


It is crucial for Boise State to protect the basket. Arizona has players that can attack the paint effectively. Specifically guards Gabe York, Allonzo Trier and forward Ryan Anderson.

When one man gets beat, another needs to help. In the clip below, you will see just that. Anderson from Arizona fakes the handoff to York and splits in between Hutchison and Webb.

Nick Duncan does a great job of getting outside the restricted area under the hoop to take a charge.

The Broncos constantly have to make the correct rotations when they get beat baseline or else where in a half court set, or Arizona will take full advantage of incorrect defensive movement on the floor.

Help The Helper

What’s missing in the rotations above is called “help-the-helper” defense. As Duncan rotates over to stop dribble penetration that’s not the only rotation that needs to happen.

The Broncos were a little slow to react to the rotation. The most important aspect of help-the-helper is to contain the man closest to the basket. Anthony Drmic will need to rotate in between who Duncan was guarding and the basket.

This will take away an easy look at the basket, but it does leave some outside shooting open.

Mikey Thompson needs to be near the corner release, while Hutchison is splitting the two shooters that are close to free throw line extended.


Defensive Rebounding

The Broncos were out-rebounded in the game against Arizona by 8. 10 of the total 39 rebounds by the Wildcats were offensive rebounds. That’s a pretty decent job keeping Arizona off the boards.

Boise State will need to limit the amount of second chance opportunities by limited Arizona to one shot per possession.

Hard Close Outs

30 of Arizona’s 88 points came from beyond the arc. 30!

They shot just under 50% against Boise State beyond the arc. A few times it was off of good ball movement, but mostly it was because of soft close outs on shooters.

Specifically soft closeouts on Arizona guard Gabe York who went 4-7 from the field. Below is a clip of one of Boise State’s non-aggressive closeouts on Gabe York.

Hutchison may have been worried about York’s dribble penetration, you can tell he is hesitant closing out strong in this clip. He will need to trust his teammates behind him for rotations and close out strong with his hands up contesting a quick shot. If Arizona is going to shoot over 50% with hard close outs, so be it. The Broncos can do better closing out hard to help decrease the high field goal percentage.  


Last but not least, the Broncos need to sacrifice their bodies to make it hard on Arizona to even penetrate through the lane. In the clip below, you will notice Boise State guard Mikey Thompson in the right help position on dribble penetration but he does not step in to take a charge.  It was a missed opportunity, and one where the Broncos committed a foul.

For the Broncos to come out on top tomorrow at 2:30 PM MT on ESPNU, they will have to sacrifice their bodies.

Whether it’s taking a charge, or diving for a 50-50 loose ball.

It’s up to them. If they can effectively play defense for 40 minutes, Leon Rice & Co. can live with the outcome. That outcome may just be the best win in program history.


About Drew Vachal

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

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