The BYU Men’s Hoop team improved to 8-0 tonight taking down a solid Utah State squad on a neutral floor (the ES Arena in SLC) by the score of 68-63. Since there are so many games in the basketball season I figured this discussion thread could be the place to talk about the team and the various games until I feel like posting again.
Here is my take on the hoops team this year:
I like ‘em. I like ‘em a lot.
In fact I think this team is the best basketball team BYU has put on the floor since the Travis Hansen and Rafael Araujo year. (That was a really solid team that got hosed in the seedings at the Big Dance and had to face UConn in the first round — the same UConn team that won it all the next year.)
This team has a lot of things going for it:
1. Two legitimate stars in senior Lee Cummard and junior Jonathan Tavernari. Either one can be counted on to put up 25+ points if the Cougs need it
2. A whole bunch of really good shooters. There are probably 9 guys on the team that have a green light to shoot three pointers from Coach Rose. That is useful.
3. Three big guys who don’t suck. There is a 3-man rotation at center that so far seems to be working pretty well. Miles is the best of the bunch but MacGregor and Anderson are both 6’10″+ as well and both can play. That means there are plenty of fouls to give and that means no easy baskets inside for anyone.
4. A deep bench. BYU doesn’t see much drop off when the bench players come in and Coach Rose has been giving 9-10 guys consistent minutes so far. That depth has helped BYU’s running offense. Other teams that aren’t as deep just wear out before BYU does.
5. Several young rising stars. I have been impressed with guards Fredette and Emery as starters. Both are good athletes and good shooters. And newcomers Morgan and Abouo have really contributed off the bench.
I would say that BYU has a real chance of cracking the top 25 before the end of this month — particularly if they can beat ASU in Tempe on Dec. 20th. Who knows, if BYU beats Boise State and Portland at home in their next two games (and they likely will — BYU is on like a 60-game winning streak in the Marriott Center) the Cougs could find themselves ranked heading in to that ASU game. And based on what I have seen, I don’t find it unlikely that BYU could beat ASU. The team has been playing smothering defense on one end and shooting very well on the other.
The best part about this season so far is that most of the non-conference games have been broadcast live on BYU-TV so I have seen most every game so far. I’m telling ya — this could be the season BYU makes a dent in the NCAA tournament again. And since BYU hasn’t won a game in the Big Dance since I was attending (in ’93 — and Russ Larsen was in the BYU singles ward Kristen and I attended BTW) it will be about time!
Finally, I think that Trent Plaisted leaving for the NBA has helped BYU. Plaisted was way too inconsistent in my opinion. He was such a talent that BYU leaned heavily on him in every game but I thought his inconsistency really hampered last year’s team in the end (both in the MWC tourney and in the NCAA tourney). This year’s team is more than a one trick pony. If one guy is having a bad day others step up and cover. That is a good sign I think.
What is your take on BYU Hoops this year?