ATI 2013.04.2 – Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, and Dancing

Ask the Ineligibles

dnews 0303bkccougars.spt_ byu  jaBYU had won 9 of 10 since the loss to Iowa State and seemed to be rolling.  Then Matthew (Buzzkill) Dellavedova buried a mid-court shot at the buzzer to postpone Dave Rose’s 200th win one more game until Saturday’s route over San Diego. How are you feeling about BYU Basketball this week as they prepare for Gonzaga?

Carl: Not….Good…Terrible in fact.  BYU just isn’t getting better with time this season.  The sun is setting on chances to reach March Madness.  A loss by 10-15 points is probably where they’re at athletically right now.  So a worse loss shows me they’re sort of cashing in the game.  A loss by less than that or a win would tell me that they still believe.

Matt: You know, (crap) happens.  That shot sucked.  And sure, it really probably all but shot BYU out of the Dance in March short of a tournament championship, but that happens.  What was impressive to me was the way BYU bounced back from the brutal loss to brutalize San Diego in turn.  I’m feeling no different today than I was last week about the Cougs.

Scott: I feel good about BYU basketball, but I don’t feel great about its chances of making the tourney. They can probably only afford to lose one more regular season game. The team has improved as the season progresses, but we really needed that Saint Mary’s game. Maybe we can shock the world and win at Gonzaga on Thursday night. That would definitely make me feel better, but I don’t see it happening.

NCAA HoopsWith four meaningful games (@Gonzaga, Utah State,  @St. Mary’s and Gonzaga) left in the regular season for BYU basketball, do you think BYU will do enough to get an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament this season?

Carl: For the record, Utah State is no longer a meaningful game.  Losing WAC pre-season player of the year Preston Medlin and senior forward Kyisean Reed and getting blown out twice in as many games make this future match-up an absolute must-win for BYU.  Gonzaga, and most likely Saint Mary’s, two more times each will let Cougar Nation know if BYU needs to win the WCC tournament.  BYU needs to avenge the Saint Mary’s loss and beat Gonzaga at home to have any shot. Beating Saint Mary’s a second time, most likely in the WCC semifinals, would lock it up, assuming no bad losses.

Matt: Short of a second place or better finish in the league and the conference tournament, BYU is dancing in the NIT this season.  The resume is not there.  And I’m okay with that.  It sucks for Brandon Davies and Dave Rose, but the rest will have several more chances to get back.

Scott: Unfortunately, I don’t. I think BYU’s best chance at making the tournament is to win the WCC Tourney. BYU has lost to every tourney-level team it has played. Now we’re in a situation where we probably have to beat Saint Mary’s on the road and beat Gonzaga at least once. That’s troubling.

davies-passWe’ve seen Brandon Davies have better stretches than the one he’s on now.  Give us your assessment of how he’s playing and if he’ll improve from here.

Carl: He’s good against inferior competition.  He’s not good against guys that bully him around.  His ankle isn’t fully healed and he’s hiding.  I don’t see him improving a whole lot until he gets fully healthy.

Matt: Can he?  Sure.  Will he?  I doubt it.  His style of play is too physical for the WCC and his moves are all scouted so well now that he’s getting beat to his spots and not getting good looks.  And worse than that, teams have found that if he gets dejected and beat down just a bit, then he starts to waiver in his game and lose focus.  He needs to adapt his play, find some new moves, and focus on defense where he can still make a real impact.

Scott: I think his play noticeably dropped after his ankle injury. He’s working his way back to where he was, but we need the pre-injury Davies at this point in the season. I think, as long as he doesn’t have any other setbacks, he’ll be back to his old self again shortly. Hopefully, we’ll have a healthy team for the conference tournament.

GonzagaWhat will BYU need to do to beat Gonzaga on the road?

Carl: Contain the big 3 of Olynyk, Pangos and Harris.  Make the role players beat you.  Honestly, the Cougars have to play near perfect; get their guys in foul trouble, take the crowd out of the game, make 3’s, and have some help.  Having Gonzaga shoot terribly, have foul trouble, or feel sluggish trying to overcome the buzzer-beating nasty loss to Butler on Saturday would help the Cougars out a ton. 

Matt: Play perfect basketball and pray for a little luck.  I don’t think that perfect basketball alone is enough to get a win in Spokane.  It could be in Provo, but not in Spokane.  The Dawgs are just that good.

Scott: BYU will have to play its best, most complete game of the season. Sharp and Davies will have to protect the rim. Carlino will have to keep Pangos/Bell in front of him. BYU will need to shoot the ball well. They can do it, but it will require a lot of things going well, and I’m not confident about that.

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