As the Cougars basketball season came to a close, fans realized this team wasn’t going to the Dance and opinions about this team ensued. We debated that very topic here. I don’t think anyone saw BYU’s run though Hattiesburg onto New York City and the lights of Madison Square Garden. What has been the catalyst behind BYU’s run through the NIT?
Carl: A little curry, paprika, luck and a whole lot boiling on high heat. The luck piece was facing Mercer, who upset Tennessee, in the second game. The high heat is obviously the high tempo they’ve been playing at. Since the beginning of the year, BYU has averaged 75 ppg. In the last three, 86. The number could be higher in part to weaker teams and defenses. But in the second and third games particularly, Brock Zylstra has been the key. Cougar fans, the last two games are the ‘what could’ve been’ for BYU’s season. This is what happens when you have a fourth shooter/scorer/contributor in the arsenal. Defenses simply can’t defend all the key contributors, leaving gaps and opportunities for BYU to beat you. If only Brock could’ve shaken the psycho-demons out earlier; no doubt BYU would have been in March Madness. But if he continues tonight, they can beat Baylor.
Matt: Since I have the advantage over these guys that I’ve already seen the Baylor game, I have the ability to speak to what happened in a loss. Matt Carlino and Brandon Davies continued to play well. Tyler Haws did Tyler Haws. However, the rest of the team struggled and therein lies the major issue of the season. No depth. If the Big 3 were off, who took care of business? During these first three games, the bench could be counted on to help when needed and the supporting players did just that . . . supported. In the Baylor game, they disappeared. I think that the additional support from the bench and the supporting roles (Austin and Zylstra) provided Matty with the confidence to play like a man possessed. Davies played like he never wanted this to end.
Mike: I’ll admit I had as much interest in BYU’s NIT success as I had in the Pro Bowling Masters a few weeks ago, which is none. Seemed like a lose/lose even for the most myopic BYU Hoops fan. BYU loses 1st round…lose. BYU wins NIT…lose. I’ve since pulled a Karl Malone 360 (which equals a 180). I’m as intrigued as anyone as to how far BYU can go at the same time equally intrigued as to where this chemistry was when the season actually mattered.
Scott: I felt good – not great – about BYU’s chances to make it past both Washington and Mercer. However, I thought the Cougars’ run would end there. The consistently stellar play of Matthew Carlino in NIT games cannot go unnoticed here: 17.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 9 assists and 1.7 steals. THIS is the Matt Carlino BYU fans thought they were getting. If he continues to play as he has, BYU is capable of raising the championship trophy at the end of the NIT.
Carl: This is actually a tougher question than it should be. You’d think the NIT is a little better caliber teams, thus BYU’s run should be better. But Weber St. has won 4 games instead of three. And two of those wins were over once bubble-worthy’s Air Force and Northern Iowa. NIU was actually at one time firmly on top of the bubble until 2 bad losses to close the season and a 1st round exit in the MVC tourney sent them to the CIT. Still, that team held wins over Final Four bound Wichita St., and March Madness entrants Creighton and St. Mary’s. Air Force was no slouch going 8-8 and finishing 6th in the 5-bid MWC. Air Force beat every other MWC March Madness entrant at least once except Colorado St. Yet, Weber St. has destroyed the CIT tourney, beating its opponents by an average of 19 points per game. Maybe there’s not as much incentive to play for some of these teams, but don’t tell Weber St. that! Weber has been playing better this postseason.
Matt: BYU by a landslide. The way BYU played its way into the NIT suggested this team would disappear on night one, but they didn’t. Weber is a talented team in a league that gets no love and when you don’t win your league or conference championship, you don’t get to play in a good tournament. BYU by a mile here, but man, WSU got jobbed on that three pointer.
Mike: I’d say BYU mostly because I had no idea there was tournament less interesting then the NIT. As a responsible contributor to ATI I probably should research which community colleges Weber St beat to advance in the CIT. That said, it’s difficult to think of a team with BYU’s talent who played worse down the stretch of the regular season. Flipping the switch the way BYU has is pretty remarkable. It’s much like Florida Gulf Coast, Lasalle and Wichita St..it’s tragic it’s happening in the NIT.
Scott: I’ll be honest, I don’t follow Weber State at all, so take what I write with a grain of salt. It’s hard to imagine any CIT run is more impressive than an NIT run. (Just like I don’t see how an NIT run could be more impressive than a NCAA run.) It’s great for any team to be able to finish its season winning games in a tournament. The way BYU has been winning games – each by double-digit points – against more competitive teams makes it no contest: BYU’s run is more impressive.
Carl: Nothing exciting or noteworthy jumped out at me other than Ammon Olsen getting injured. That should solidify the starting job to Taysom Hill, if he wasn’t already the starter. Other than that, BYU appropriately rested all the big stars, letting the younger guys have some time.
Matt: Good offense, mediocre defense. Wasn’t much to get excited about. I enjoyed how Ammon Olsen played and really was impressed with the play of newcomer Christian Stewart, but the biggest takeaway was that one of Anae’s cards for his “Go fast and go hard” system is a CTR symbol. Yes, you will see CTR this year on ESPN.
Mike: From the sound of it rarely did first teams go against first teams. The Spring Game was sold as an actual “Game” but appeared to be another practice with sprinkles on it. Anae summed it up perfectly saying “Our ‘D’ was resting their studs. So write that in your little papers, OK? Do not take anything here and blow it [out of proportion]. It was not that great, and it was not that bad.” For me it was just another spring game. I remember Crowton trying to score 100 points in the spring game to give the illusion that the offense was going to be a beast. Probably the most refreshing part of Spring Game ’13 was Anae’s brutal honestly. Loving Anae take 2.
Scott: When you’re watching a scrimmage that is lacking most of the team’s stars, I’m not sure it’s safe to take much from it. (Robert Anae and I see eye-to-eye on this.) Nevertheless, it is good to see BYU’s offense put some points on the board, and it’s even better to see the coaching staff not be satisfied with their production. (“Go faster, go harder!”) If they can get to the level Anae seems to want from the offense, BYU will be a very dangerous team in the fall. I’m encouraged by what happened on Saturday, and hopefully, BYU can build on that.
Carl: Is there a difference in being the 8th team or the 9th team? YES! Play the playoffs, no matter if the Jazz are limping. They’re not limping as badly as the Lakers. You never know what can happen. Plus there is value in getting younger players experience in the postseason. But what we do know is Jazz will get additional home games and a chance to put it all together for a playoff run.
Matt: They need to be in the playoffs. Here are my reasons in no order. 1 – Experience. Next year the youngsters seemingly get the reigns. Any experience helps. 2 – Who cares if they get swept again? Getting the 15th or 16th pick vs. the 14th pick is a wash; they’ll likely package it for a better one anyway. 3 – Screwing the Lakers. We get in, they don’t. We get in, they also lose their first round pick to Phoenix. We get in, we can hold it over the heads of all those sellout bandwagon Laker fans that call SLC home. Did I say we get to screw over the Lakers?
Mike: Let me preface by saying I am a huge Jazz fan…that said I think if Ty Corbin and this underachieving Jazz team stumble and fall into the meaningless 8th seed only to get bounced in probably 4 straight it’s worse for the Jazz big picture then actually missing the playoffs. Making the playoffs most likely buys Corbin another year. It’s clear the Jazz have the blooming talent to be something other then an 8 seed in the west. I think a coaching reset might be exactly what this Jazz team needs going forward.
Scott: The correct answer is playoffs. What does getting the last lottery pick get you? The 14th pick instead of the 15th? Such a small difference. Take the excitement of the playoffs. Even though I’ve never lived in Utah and I’m not a Jazz fan, this is actually my favorite question from this week’s “Ask the Ineligibles.” What I am is a Phoenix Suns fan. A Phoenix Suns fan with a lot of interest in how the Jazz (read: Lakers) do. If the Jazz get into the playoffs, that means the Lakers don’t, and THAT means the Suns will get their lottery pick (via the Steve Nash sign-and-trade deal). A lottery pick in exchange for a player we didn’t expect to get much, if anything, for. (He was a free agent, so we assumed he was just gone.) So do it for us! Help us rebuild Phoenix!