Yesterday afternoon the Cougars of BYU took the floor for the final time in this 2011-2012 season. I don’t need to rehash the game; I’m sure you watched it already. In a season many billed as a rebuilding season, just one year removed from the all-time leader in scoring as well as his back-court running mate who did pretty well at thievery. Of course I’m talking about Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery. Sure, Dave Rose’s boys had Noah Hartsock and Charles Abouo returning this season, but he also had a cast of freshman, unproven and seldom-used backups, and he had to wait until nearly Christmas before heralded freshman Matt Carlino could join the team in the games. And until right before the semester began, nobody knew if budding super-stud Brandon Davies would be back on the team after being suspended heading into the post season the year before.
However, Noah Hartsock had a different agenda. Entering his senior season, no one knew that he would shoulder this young cast of players and take them places they never knew they could go. They played in Greece, played against national teams like Wisconsin and Baylor, and of course, played their inaugural season in the West Coast Conference. Many predicted they would win fewer than 20 games, a severe drop from the previous season’s success and they marched past 20 with almost a month remaining in the season. They handled then no. 6 Baylor with class, barely missing a chance at a monstrous upset. Of course they also struggled. The WCC was no picnic as they found out by losing 5 of 7 games to Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga, and Loyola Marymount. Brandon Davies showed his potential in a December 31 game in Provo against San Diego when he dropped a monstrous 21 points and 22 rebounds on the Toreros. Brock Zylstra showed flashes of brilliance when he went 6-6 from 3 against San Francisco. And I won’t forget how thrilled I was with Matt Carlino in that Baylor game, his first as a Cougar when he scored 18 points or his 30 point outing against San Francisco.
But my take away from this season has to be just how good of a coach this program has in Dave Rose, as well as his staff. The way he managed games and players and juggled this often inconsistent roster was nothing short of brilliant. The final feather in his cap this season has to be that comeback win over Iona. Yes, Carl discussed how much of that was on Iona going away from what was working, but credit Dave Rose just as much for making the adjustments, switching up the personnel, and getting his players to buy into making it possible.
I am going to miss Noah Hartsock. His senior leadership will need to be replaced next season and I certainly hope and expect that void to be filled by senior-to-be Brandon Davies. I’ll skip over my keys to next season, but make sure to check back to see what I feel they will be in my next post. While the loss to Marquette yesterday does still sting a bit, I’m more than happy with the way the team played this year and it makes me excited for what Dave Rose will bring us next season.