Since I wrote a post the last time St. Mary's beat the tar out of BYU I figured I would do another one this time. Here are some thoughts on tonight's game and this BYU team in no particular order:
At the 2 spot BYU has Zylstra who is simply too slow to be a real threat to upper echelon competition. He rebounds well and shoots lights out when left wide open just doesn't get wide open against solid teams. Harrison is still struggling to adjust to D1 hoops and Winder is still unreliable as a shooter. BYU will need much more from the 2 spot to consistently beat good teams.
At the 1 spot Carlino is a very promising freshman. The problem is sometimes he shows you his promise and at other times he reminds you he is a freshman. Cusick is a steady hand at the 1 but doesn't seem to have the upside Carlino brings.
At one point in the game tonight I saw a number saying BYU was something like 11-70 from three over the last 4 games. That is a recipe for disaster. BYU teams must hit threes to be good. For the first 18 or so games BYU averages 37% from three. Going 11-70 is a shockingly bad trend. I called the horrendous three point shooting in the LMU game an outlier. I am now worried it was a harbinger of bad shooting to come.
On the bright side, going 2-13 from three tonight was TWICE as good as BYU going 2-26 from three against LMU!
BYU is not very good at man defense (related to the issues with the 1-3 spots) but they have trouble getting to shooters in the zone as well. Today is was the 3-4 spots who were late covering the shooter in the corner several times in a row. That Steindl kid drilled four straight threes before BYU started covering him.
Yes, the refs were poor tonight. But they were not the reason BYU lost. BYU would have lost this game with absolutely perfect officiating because SMC was better than BYU tonight.
- SMC is clearly a better team than BYU this year. But when you think about it that should be no surprise. This same SMC squad took last year's BYU team led by Jimmer and Jax to the wire on a neutral floor. BYU lost Jimmer and Jax while SMC brought its best players back this year.
BYU is very good at the 4 and 5 spots. Davies and Hartsock are the most formidable front court in the conference and perhaps in the West.
- BYU is spotty at best at the 1-3 spots. (More bullets to follow on this)
At the 3 spot Abouo is a terrific defender but is still an inconsistent scorer. Rogers was supposed to be the guy to step up and be the scoring threat at 3 but his injured knee knocked him out. BYU has sorely missed Rogers over the last 4 games where no one seems to be able to hit a three anymore.
The question now is: How much improvement can BYU make before the WCC tourney? If Dave Rose can get this team into the NCAA tourney it will be a spectacular coaching feat. Getting to the Big Dance again is certainly possible but it will require some wins over Gonzaga and perhaps a victory over this superior SMC team in the WCC tourney in Vegas. Rose is a great coach but getting in to the Big Dance this year is becoming a tall order.