On Saturday, Utah led BYU by a significant amount and had a chance to win the game. Considering the team’s recent struggles in Salt Lake, does the nail biter say more about the state of BYU hoops or Utah’s?
Carl – You’re probably seeing a mixture of both the deterioration of BYU hoops currently as well as an uptick in a Utes program than hasn’t had their collective wills to play the rest of the season broken yet. The current state of these programs will be different by season’s end and BYU should still be the better team.
Matt – Tough to say. I haven’t watched enough of the Utes this season to know if 6-3 is legit or a function of their soft schedule. With games against teams such as Sacramento State, SMU, and Texas State, it’s hard to know what to make of a team that has underachieved for so many years. BYU’s losses have come to teams from “Power Conferences” such as Florida State and Notre Dame, but in those losses, they haven’t looked like a Dave Rose coached BYU team. I think the Utes are playing above their station and as a young team, they will eventually come back to the median. For the Cougars, they are still figuring out who their leader is and should be on the floor. Matt Carlino needs to build on his game against the Utes in order to help this team be legitimate. I think at this point in the season, this clash says a bit more about how far BYU has to come than it does about the surprising Utes.
Carl – It’s too early, but Cougar Nation wants his performances to continue. He’s still playing a bit free, but he got away with it on Saturday. Maybe the 6-man role is his best place for right now. Carlino’s second half was the primary reason BYU won. BYU doesn’t need him to step up and carry us every game, but consistency from others will help more than Carlino giving us 19/game. BYU has been struggling with consistent production from just about everyone and one great game by Carlino shouldn’t be expected going forward.
Matt – It is too early to tell. He needs to have more games where he lets the flow come to him and then play within it. I will say this, I think he will be the key to this season. His lack of confidence has allowed teams to double team Tyler Haws and get out on shooters. If he can play better and require at the least, a man-to-man match up defensively, then it will open up the floor for Haws and the other shooters to start finding the bottom of the net.
Carl – Sure, there’s opportunities to get a couple wins. And the opportunities begin this Saturday at Dee Events Center and Weber St. Weber holds the better marquee win between the teams thus far, beating Dayton on the road. After that, BYU can still tally quality wins against Virginia Tech and Baylor. For BYU, you’d want to win 2 out of 3 of those. But even still, there’s not really any reason to panic and feel that they have to win the WCC tourney to get in the dance if they don’t with those games. They still play Gonzaga and St Mary’s twice and Utah St still looms. The panic meter won’t be going off unless we see BYU not playing good basketball. In my mind, BYU is still looking at a 22-23 win season. Winning a couple of those will build confidence heading to the WCC schedule.
Matt – Before the West Coast Conference kicks off for BYU on January 3, the Cougs have quality games at Baylor and in the Energy Solutions Arena against Virginia Tech. These will provide the last chance for Dave Rose’s squad to get quality wins that show up at selection time. If they lose these two games, especially the Baylor game, they will likely have to win the WCC to get selected at this point. However, winning these games by playing as a team will help restore some confidence to this team and provide a springboard into conference play.
Carl – With athleticism. On Saturday, Utah did a great job at times breaking down the BYU zone with great quickness and athleticism. BYU seems slower defensively on the perimeter and you can tell they feel much more comfortable in the zone knowing there’s always someone to help. The first half man defense was getting shredded. Winder has more quickness and I see him as a harder worker defensively. But his athleticism can also create offensive opportunities and the ability to unbalance the spacing of an opponent on the offensive side. Put it on record, Winder is the catalyst for BYU’s better play going forward. We’ll see BYU playing better basketball really soon.
Matt – I don’t know if Anson Winder is going to make a huge difference. BYU needs more consistency and leadership from its point guard. And the thinness in the front line is killing the team, especially when Davies has to sit due to foul trouble. Winder only provides an additional wing player and while the team could benefit from him in small ways, he only adds to the rotation Dave Rose already employs; he doesn’t solve any problems.