October 25, 2012
BYU Basketball Blue vs White Game
Talk about a breath of fresh air for Cougar fans. No weird coach man-crushes on his players, no coaching errors that lose games for the team and seasons for players. Just a very solid basketball program coached by one of the best coaches in the history BYU sports. This season looks very good for the BYU hoops team, and the future looks just as good, if not better.
There aren't very many schools in the country that have had more basketball players drafted than football players in the last 2 years. But BYU is one of them. BYU basketball will be the balm of Gillead that BYU fans need right now, although a win over Georgia Tech and a win in BYU's bowl game would certainly help to pull BYU fans away from the ledge.
If that doesn't cheer up a BYU fan then Brandon Davies surely will. He has really improved. His jump shot is much better than it was a year ago. He hit a three pointer in the Blue and White game, which is great and helps illustrate how much better his shot is now, but more importantly his midrange jumper and his free throw shot have both gotten much better since last year. Seeing him play last night and seeing the advancement of his game cemented in my mind his bid as WCC player of the year this year despite Dellavedova winning it as a Junior last year and Elias Harris returning for his Senior year. Davies has also been working on his left hand, he looks very comfortable finishing with his left, and even used it while getting fouled to convert an and one on a beautiful spin to the baseline before the double team could get there. Davies did struggle with turnovers, he likes to try to thread the needle, so the second you want to say how good of a passer he is he'll turn the ball over a couple of times on passes that weren't there. He scored 20 points before halftime though, and single-handedly kept his white team in the game up to that point. Once he came out of the game in the second half to help his back heal up, his team promptly got blown out. Davies is the best player on the court both offensively and defensively, and he is really going to have a special season.
The second best player, by a large margin is Tyler Haws. People talk about him being back to his ability level before his mission. I think he's already quite a bit better than he was as a freshman. He does a great job of drawing fouls while going to the basket, and he's obviously automatic when he does get to the line. Advanced statistics say that the mid range jumper is the least efficient shot on the floor, but he is so smart, and so skilled that he can score like Melo, but he does it efficiently. What really helps his efficiency is his ability to read the defense and use screens to get to the basket and his accuracy from 3. You know a player is good when he is selected as a team captain as a Sophomore, and Haws is going to finish the season as a first or second team all-WCC player as a Sophomore.
The third best player on the team is Matt Carlino. Matt's blue and white game summed up who he has a been as a player pretty well, up and down. He can make fantastic plays but he can also get caught trying to do too much and either forcing up a bad shot or turning the ball over. He started the first half trying to force shots in the paint that didn't have a prayer of going in. But in the second half he did more penetrating and kicking out to open shooters. He also put in a really nice floater that will really be a nice shot to add to his arsenal so he doesn't find himself with nowhere to go down by the basket contended by post players. His ups were more consistently up than they were last year and his downs weren't as down. He has improved as a player, and the ball movement of the entire team has also really improved. The ball movement on the white side struggled once Davies came out of the game, but other than that players were doing a good job of making the extra pass. The key for Carlino to really help this team win this year will be his effort on defense.
Defense for this team will be what determines whether they are a 12 seed or a 6 seed in the tournament. They can put the ball in the basket, but what lost them games last year against top quality teams was their inability to contend the three point shot. That has to be fixed this year, you cannot play against a tournament level team and hope that they miss uncontested shots. Davies, Stone Cold Nate Austin and Sharp are all going to give it their all on the defensive end of every play, so it is really up to the wings and point guard to make sure that they maintain defensive intensity. The defense in the Blue and White game wasn't great, but each team only had one sub, so that didn't bother me. When a team is as deep as BYU is this year at guard and small forward they have to make sure that they go 100% on defense then take a breather when they get gassed. I really like Cusick, and there were times last year when the team was better with him on the floor than they were with Carlino on the floor. So Carlino needs to make sure not to conserve energy on the defensive end, or else that is something that Rose will need to enforce to get his team playing to their potential. If you want to take plays off on defense, then you can take a few more plays off on the bench.
Overall I was very happy with how the team looked at this point in the season. The power forward position is going to be in good hands. It's interesting how similar Agustin and Austin are to Hartsock. They are both very good shooters, and prefer to play either outside or from midrange. Agustin is much better than Austin with his back to the basket because of how ridiculously good he is with that turn around fade away jumper. In the second half the white team should have posted Ambrosino up every time down the court and either let him take that shot or passed it if the double team came. They both move very well without the ball, especially playing off of Brandon Davies double teams. I like Austin better as a starter alongside Davies because he is just as good at hitting a set shot off of a pass, but is better defensively and brings a lot of length and athleticism to the floor. Anytime Davies is on the bench though I want to see Ambrosino posting up down low. Once he starts abusing teams with that fade away he can do counters off of that and get defenders in the air while he pivots for a lay in.
Sharp reminds me a lot of Andrei Kirilenko previously of the Utah Jazz. His shot isn't that pretty, and his strength isn't making jump shots. But he's a good energy player who runs the court really well and makes hustle plays. He also cuts and moves very well off the ball to get himself easy baskets and not so easy tomahawk jams. He can play SF or PF because he can defend either and he'll do the dirty work on the glass. I think that Ambrosino and Austin are too skilled for him to get playing time above either of them, but he's certainly a good piece for Rose to have in his quiver now that BYU fans have seen his athleticism first hand. I was very pleased with Harward's touch, he only has one move in the post, but at least he has nice touch on it and his jumper. Delgado can certainly put it in from three, and he doesn't hesitate to take that shot.
This Cougar team is going to surprise a lot of people nationally and have a much better year than they did last year. Their three point shooting is going to be much better than it was last year as they play inside out from Davies, and the addition of Haws is going to make it so that they have another star to take some pressure off of Davies. Carlino will continue to progress toward his potential, and BYU will have a good shot of making some noise in the tournament this year if they can play defense anywhere near as well as Bronco's BYU Cougar team does.
Follow me on Twitter: @lancewarchibald
...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now for a FREE Trial