The Not Way-too-early BYU Cougars Hoops Preview

This is my “it’s not way-too-early-to-do-this” preview for the 2012 – 2013 BYU Men’s Basketball team.  Sure, it might be seven months early, but it will also be interesting to note if the keys remain the same as the actual season approaches.

The 2011-2012 season just wrapped up and if you missed it, the Ask the Ineligibles team put together a brief review of what we liked about this past season as well as what we expect 2012 – 2013 to look like.  I am just going to elaborate a bit on my thoughts heading into the next season.

Gone will be Noah Hartsock and Charles Abouo to graduation and freshman DeMarcus Harrison to an LDS mission.  Joining the team will be return missionary guard Tyler Haws, as well as JUCO transfer SG Raul Delgado and a few other players.  Hartsock’s leadership and scoring will be sorely missed and Nate “Rexasaurus Rex” Austin will be leaned on to supplement senior-to-be Brandon Davies in the post.  Contributions from redshirt freshman Ian Harward and injury-plagued Chris Collinsworth will be hoped for as well in the paint.

Keys to success in 2012 – 2013

1.      Matt Carlino must improve

Freshman Matt Carlino played well at time and played erratic at others.  In defense of the kid, he had the burden of replacing Jimmer on his shoulders whether purposefully or not, whether realistic or not, and that cannot have been an easy task for a kid playing his first meaningful basketball in nearly two years.  On some nights he could be brilliant (see at home against Baylor and on the road at San Francisco) and on other nights he would disappear against more experienced guards such as Matthew Dellavadova and Kevin Pangos.  This year’s team (and quite likely next year’s team) was built to be an interior scoring team and Carlino needs to recognize that he doesn’t need to be a shoot first PG for this team.  Slowing it down a bit, controlling the ball, and getting good looks in the paint will open up lanes and shots for the sophomore to be and I expect big things from him next season.  It will be squarely on Carlino’s shoulders to not try and get into a 1-on-something track meet with an opponent.  Those opportunities will come if he is just patient enough to wait for them.

2.      Brandon Davies has to become consistent

Shortly after the loss to Marquette, Davies had the following to say:

 “There’s a lot I have left to accomplish at BYU,” Davies said. “It’s not just for me. I owe it to my teammates, my coaches and everyone around me. It’s what I want to do and the people around me want to do.”

Consistent?  Really? you may ask.  But yes, that is correct.  When Davies wanted to be dominant, he was.  He often removed himself from games by committing stupid and early fouls.  Sometimes he appeared disinterested.  But when he was focused, he was near unstoppable.  There isn’t any reason why he shouldn’t dominate at both ends of the court in nearly every game this next season.  Based on the above noted comment, I think he knows it too.

I feel Davies has it in him to be in the conversation as an all-American in his senior season, but he will need the be fed.  If I could lend one mantra to the wing players this next season it would be, “Feed the big man!”  The team needs to stick with its newfound success at the close of the season and set up some half court sets and dump it to Davies, especially when they need a big time run stopper.

3.      The New Comers

Tyler Haws and Raul Delgado will be asked score right away.  Haws can step in and play the 2 or the 3 and compliment Stephen Rogers, allowing the latter to be that 6th man he plays so well.  Delgado should compete right away with Brock Zylstra and Anson Winder for minutes at the 2 spot.  I expect Nate Austin will be the front-runner for the 4 spot but hopefully Chris Collinsworth can get his knee straight and combine with Ian Harward to contribute solid minutes behind Austin and Davies.

4.      Winning at Home

The Cougars lost a nail-biter at home to Baylor this past season, a game that probably made the difference in the Cougars post-season positioning in the NCAA Tournament.  They also got blind-sided by Loyola Marymount and lost an ugly game to Saint Mary’s in the Marriott Center.  Next season, the Cougars have to have those games.  Three more wins would have made the difference in the seeding as well as the confidence of the team.

Lastly, I’m going to define and change my prediction for next season just a bit.  I feel that in the WCC, there is no excuse for the Cougars to not go at worst 14-2.  The Gaels proved that is what it will take to win this league and the Cougars need to win.  Additionally, the team is playing about 15-18 out-of-league games per year and depending on who ends up on their schedule, they need to capture a record that allows for no more than 3-4 losses.  That would give them at most 6 losses heading into the WCC Championships and should have them at least in the conversation of the top 25, brimming with confidence, and ready to strike fear in the rest of the WCC come Championship Week.

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