How do you feel about the format of the West Coast Conference tournament?
Matt – While the double bye works in a 16 team league like the Big East, it makes no sense at all in a nine team league like the WCC. The better format would be to have an 8/9 play-in and then seed quarterfinal, semifinal, and final rounds over a three day period, much like the Mountain West Conference did when BYU was a member. Giving the top two seeds automatic bids in a conference this small to the semifinal round unfairly rewards those two teams.
Carl – Absolutely dreadful format. Seriously, looking at the format on paper in bracket version, it’s like trying to put together a Sudoku puzzle, and I suck at those! Anyway, I can firmly state that the 8/9 seeds don’t want to potentially be in Las Vegas for 6 days. I don’t think their school’s administration wants them there for 6 days either. Plain and simple common man says the opening round, the 8/9 game, should be Thursday, then the traditional 8-team bracket. A full slate of games Friday, with semi’s Saturday and the championship game Monday, for the sake of Championship Week on ESPN.
Mark – At the end of the day, it is weird. No other conference tries to do what the WCC does. There is no getting around that. However, for the WCC, it is smart. It allows to the better teams to not bring down their RPI by playing the lower level teams in the conference. Weird, but smart.
David – I understand that being a higher seed should come with some perks, but it’s almost as if the tournament is designed to make sure that the top seeds win out. I much prefer to see those teams playing as many games as everyone else. The more ideal benefit of being a high seed is getting to play a low seed to start.
If BYU is to win the West Coast C tournament, what will be the most important key to their success?
Matt – When I wrote my answer here, I had a long diatribe about Noah Hartsock, but after further reflection, I want to echo what I heard David Locke mention after halftime in the Utah – Sacramento game last night. He discussed what Coach Ty Corbin felt the Jazz needed to do to be more successful. While obvious, they bear mentioning. 1 – Play a full (40) minutes. 2 – Find a stop after a 4-0 or 6-0 run. 1 – This is obvious. Every player has to buy in. It doesn’t matter if Hartsock can’t go; someone else has to. 2 – BYU’s tendency when a run is made by a “better” team is to start jacking up threes. Understanding that every team, good or bad, goes on four and six point runs in the course of a game is elemental to winning. Don’t get bogged down in the minutia. Don’t get caught up in the urgency to make a bucket; just get a stop. The Cougars are best when their defense is holding strong and then getting the ball up in transition. Doing that will allow the Cougars to go on their own runs.
Carl – I think it’s going to be Hartsock. But I don’t think he’ll be the key you might be thinking. Anyone who knows knee injuries knows that, not only do they take time to restore to full health; they also have a mental recovery as well. I’m not a believer that Noah will be 100%. But I think he’ll be playing no question. My key is if he will make defenses respect him enough to keep the floor open and keep the BYU offense going, because I think he’ll struggle to find his shot past 15 feet.
Mark – Execution in the face of adversity. Younger teams tend to panic when the other team goes on runs. We’ve seen BYU stop executing and try to play individual ball, what I call 1 on 5. They can’t do that. They have to trust their teammates and continue to play BYU ball when the other team starts to get a little bit of success.
David – The cougars need to find their rhythm and keep it. In the big games that they have lost, much can be attributed to their lack of threes and their inability to ever get even a small run going.
Assuming BYU wins its quarterfinals game they will match-up once again versus Gonzaga. We’re all expecting to see senior forward Noah Hartsock back on the floor by Friday. However, if he isn’t able to play, what adjustments does the team need to make in order to be able to get the win? Who needs to step up, take control, and perform?
Matt – Brandon Davies and Nate Austin HAVE to play with restraint. What I mean by that is they have to play controlled on defense and be judicious with their fouls. Both men fouled out in Spokane and while Davies played most of the game, Rex only logged about 16 – that is nowhere near enough minutes to get five fouls when you don’t have a legit 3rd option down low. And since Davies will likely be the focus of the offense, it becomes even more imperative that Austin step up and take the opportunities given to him by a defense that won’t pay him much attention.
Carl – If Hartsock can’t go, the most important adjustment will be psychological for the Cougars. Coach Rose will be the biggest encourager of this team, as he’ll need to remind the guys that even without Hartsock, they’re still talented enough to win the WCC Tournament. The key will be making them believe it, and having the team show it on the floor by playing their game and playing within themselves. If Hartsock is gone, I don’t think anyone needs to carry that leadership mantle; it’s stressful. But I suspect Brock Zylstra is also looking to provide a spark.
Mark – Nate Austin, aka Rexosaurus, needs to step up. He got the start on Saturday and didn’t get his first points until well into the 2nd half. He needs to get involved to help take pressure off of Davies and spread the mid-range floor.
David – This is the time for Charles to step up. If this team is going to go anywhere this year, they need a leader and Abuou is capable of the job if he can keep his head level. If there was ever a time that he needs to be consistent it’s now.
Pick your West Coast Conference Men’s basketball tournament champion and defend your choice.
Matt – I’m a homer and I make no bones about it, but I truly believe BYU is on a path to take this. A few reasons. 1 – I believe Loyola Marymount beats Saint Mary’s in the semifinal round. SMC is hurting and the Lions have beaten them once. 2 – Las Vegas is a virtual home away from home for the Cougars. They beat Gonzaga on a neutral floor last year, beat them at home this year, and despite no Hartsock or Stephen Rogers and horrific shooting, still hung with them in Spokane. They will win the grudge match, with or without Hartsock. 3 – BYU won’t lose to LMU twice. Coach Rose will know how to game plan for this team that sucker punched them in the Marriott Center.
Carl – Saint Mary’s- The last two weeks were treacherous for them. Coach Randy Bennett does not want to make the selection committee look at them and ponder the question ‘what have you done for me lately?’ I think the Gaels underperformed just enough the last 5 games to warrant top focus in the Tourney. Top to bottom, they’re the best team in the league this year and I think they’ll prove it.
Mark – BYU. The simple reason is Saint Mary’s is a great team, but is facing some key losses. It will be tough for BYU still to get past them, but I believe they can and will do it.
David – Saint Mary’s. I think that their last few losses were flukes. They are the best team in the conference this year. Unless BYU can get their groove back and beat Gonzaga, St. Mary’s will be playing the Zags for the championship and they are just the better team this year in that match up.