Mouphtaou Yarou struggles with both sides of the pick and roll
Draft Express currently has Mouphtaou Yarou going 23rd in the 2012 NBA Draft, mainly based on his physical attributes and his tenacity on the glass. Yarou struggles with both the offensive and defensive aspect of the pick and roll, which was evident in Villanova’s loss to Missouri. Until he improves on at least one side of this, it is hard to see him being a regular contributor to an NBA team as so many of the offenses are based around the pick and roll and Yarou has trouble with running it on offense as well as defending the action.
The first area of improvement for Yarou on the offensive side of the pick and roll is his screen. He comes to the ball handler at a bad angle and doesn’t set himself for the screen, which doesn’t allow him to get a piece of the defender. By not screening the defender, the play is easily defended from the outset. He needs to take his time on the screen and ensure he gets a piece of the defender. Some of this is on the ball handler but Yarou has to set up his teammate to use a strong screen to initiate the pick and roll.
If the ball handler does manage to find some space off the ball screen, Yarou does not consistently roll to the rim with confidence. This allows his defender to hedge hard on the ball and easily recover to Yarou who has not made himself available on the roll. He gets to the rim eventually on most rolls but it too slow to be a threat to the defense, who can easily defend him.
In the third play of the below video, Yarou converts the shot off the roll. However, he rolled to the corner and was forced into a tough shot that was lucky to go in and cannot be expected to make that shot every time he gets the ball in that position. The first two plays show his slow roll to the rim, as he got there eventually to be in position for the offensive rebound but could not make himself available as an option to the ball handler when his defender hedged. Combine this with the fact that Yarou struggles to screen the primary defender and you can see why Villanova struggles when they run the pick and roll with Yarou.
Yarou struggled just as much on the defensive side of the pick and roll against Missouri, which led to several easy shot attempts for the Tigers. Yarou chose not to hedge on the ball screen, allowing the ball handler to easily get into the lane and create. Against a dynamic guard like Phil Pressey, this may have been a mistake as he is superb at creating once he gets into the lane. By not hedging, Yarou is handing Pressey the ball in a very dangerous position.
Allowing the offense to get the ball into the lane so easily is bad enough but Yarou is unable to recognize the offense from there and makes the wrong read or a slow read to defend the end of the pick and roll. His lack of lateral speed in the paint means he cannot always recover to his defender on the roll, conceding the easy layup for his man.
It’s understandable why Jay Wright would want Yarou to defend the paint instead of trying to hedge on the pick and roll. This strategy is dangerous against good guards, as it puts them in a dangerous place with the ball and little defensive pressure. With Yarou playing so far back, the ball handler has an easy pull up or floater shot over Yarou if they want, as we see in the second play below (even though Pressey misses the shot).
He also is still learning how to make the right read on defense, as shown in the third play of the video. In this play, his defender is in good position to defend Pressey, who is much more of a distributor than a scorer. On a play like this, Villanova should be content with Pressey taking a contested layup but Yarou helps his teammate to try for the spectacular block. However, this leaves his man open for the easy dump off pass and dunk. Yarou needs to recognize better when to give help on the ball and when to stay with his man.