Last night we caught our first look of what the BYU Basketball team will look like on the court as the team held its yearly inter-squad blue vs. white scrimmage at the Marriot Center in front of a few thousand fans.
While an inter-squad scrimmage won't tell us everything we need to know about this year's Cougars, it does give us a chance to analyze the incoming talent for the first time. The scrimmage was broken into two halves which more or less became two separate games with stats resetting at the half. In the first half the talent was distributed evenly through both squads. Coach Dave Rose used the second half to experiment with actual lineups pairing all the players expected to see time this season in white against what I'll assume will be this season's practice team in blue. For the purpose of this article I have combined the players stats from both halves.
Based on the lineups Coach Rose used last night, I would project Matt Carlino, Kyle Collinsworth, Tyler Haws, Nate Austin, and Eric Mika as BYU's starters with Frank Bartley IV, Skyler Halford, and Anson Winder regulars in the rotation. Given that Nate Austin sat out basically the entire scrimmage, it is hard to project whether Josh Sharp or Luke Worthington play a larger role than the other in the frontcourt. Coach Rose did go to a lineup with Bartley playing in the four spot several times, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if we see the Cougars go to a small lineup on a regular basis this year.
Here's a short breakdown on what I saw out of each player last night:
Tyler Haws (Guard, 6'5", 200 lbs)
Not a lot I can say about Tyler Haws that fans don't already know about him. To modify the words of Dennis Green just a bit, Haws is who we thought he was. With the exception of an emphatic slam in the first half, Haws quietly went about his business scoring 28 points between the two halves. Haws added three rebounds, three assists, and a single turnover to round out his stat line.
Matt Carlino (Guard, 6'2", 175 lbs)
Matt Carlino picked up right where he left off from the NIT at the end of last season with some hot shooting. He led all Cougars in scoring last night with 31 points shooting 52 percent from the field. Carlino would also record 5 rebounds, 3 assists, a block, a steal, and a turnover. I'd like to see that assist number a little higher out of the point guard spot, but given that Carlino currently sits at BYU's all-time career leader at assists per game that shouldn't be a problem.
Kyle Collinsworth (Guard,6'6", 215 lbs)
Kyle Collinsworth struggled to find his shot last night going just 2 of 7 from the field. Not sure whether to credit that to first game back from his mission jitters or if Collinsworth is still trying to get his legs back, but his shot looked flat all night. Collinsworth did find other ways to contribute for his squad though grabbing 10 boards, dishing out seven assists, and blocking one shot. It wouldn't surprise me if Collinsworth continues to contribute more in those categories than he does in scoring. It is important to remember that Collinsworth wasn't a huge scorer as a freshman either averaging 5.8 point per game prior to his mission.
Frank Bartley IV (Guard, 6'3", 200 lbs)
Frank Bartley IV is going to be a fan favorite this season. The freshman guard is easily the best athlete on the team and he used that athleticism to make some great plays on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Bartley finished with five points, four rebounds, three steals, a block, an assist, and a turnover. Bartley's 2 of 6 shooting left a lot to be desired, but his defensive abilities are what will make him a real valuable player to the Cougars this season. It is no secret that the West Coast Conference is loaded with talent at the guard position and having a player to lockdown that talent is something BYU lacked last season. Bartley may just be that player. Expect him to compete with Skyler Halford as the sixth man off the bench.
Nate Austin (Forward, 6'11", 230 lbs)
Nate Austin left last night's scrimmage only one play in after a collision with Luke Worthington that left Austin with a chipped tooth. According to the tweet Austin sent out(below), he had the tooth checked out by a dentist and should be fine. Even without seeing what kind of improvement he may have made over the off-season, its pretty safe to assume that Austin's length will give him a prominent role on this year's team.
Chipped tooth. I'll be good. Getting it looked at by a dentist. pic.twitter.com/91f6kKaLFX— Nate Austin (@RexosaurusRex) October 24, 2013
Skyler Halford (Guard, 6'1", 180 lbs)
Skyler Halford may be the newcomer to watch this season. I had heard Halford was a pretty good shooter and was able to see some of his sharp-shooting skills in his victory in the Boom Shakalaka 3-Point Contest last week. It wasn't Halford's shooting that impressed me last night though. Don't get me wrong the 6 of 12 shooting including 3 of 5 from beyond the arc is a welcome sight, but it was Halford's overall aggression on the offensive side of the ball that impressed me the most. The transfer from Salt Lake Community College may just be BYU's third best scoring option in the backcourt. Halford put up 17 points to go along with his three rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two turnovers. I would guess Coach Rose will use as the Cougars go to scoring option off the bench.
Eric Mika (Forward, 6'10", 230 lbs)
There is a lot of excitement surrounding Eric Mika's first season with the Cougars and rightfully so given what he was able to accomplish at Lone Peak High School last season. Mika did not disappoint putting up 19 points, 13 rebounds, a block, two turnovers and a signature alley-oop slam, which he was known for at Lone Peak. Mika's ability to grab offensive rebounds (seven of his 13 rebounds were offensive) should give BYU a lot of second chance point opportunities this season. The biggest concern for Mika is going to be staying out of foul trouble. If last night's game had been a traditional format with stats not resetting at the half, Mika would have fouled out.
Anson Winder (Guard, 6'3", 195 lbs)
Anson Winder had somewhat of a disappointing season last year after an impressive freshman campaign. I think the ankle injury Winder suffered prior to last season affected his play more than he let on all season. After an off-season to recover, Winder had an impressive showing in the scrimmage putting in 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting. He added 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, a block, and just a single turnover to compliment his scoring totals. A healthy Winder also gives Coach Rose another defensive option on the guard line. He will need to be cautious of foul trouble as he would have joined Eric Mika fouling out if the stats had not reset at the half.
Josh Sharp (Forward, 6'7", 185 lbs)
Josh Sharp had a really quiet first half scoring just two points and grabbing a single rebound in 17 minutes of play. Sharp did pick it up on the boards in the second half ending the night with 5 points and 7 rebounds. Sharp's size and skill set have always put him in between the number three and four positions for the Cougars, but with the Cougars lack of depth in the frontcourt expect him to be a part of the big man rotation.
Luke Worthington (Forward, 6'10", 235 lbs)
Luke Worthington had a tough time getting the basketball to fall for him going just 2 of 6 from the field and 0 of 2 from the free throw line. He saw very few minutes in the second half and finished the night with just 4 points. He did grab six rebounds on the night, four of which came on the offensive glass. Even though he struggled to score, I was impressed with his low post positioning and ability to get second chance point opportunities for a true freshman. As Worthington gets more experience at this level, I expect you will see both his minutes and production increase to where he becomes a key contributor off the bench for the Cougars.
Chase Fischer (Guard,6'3", 195 lbs)
Chase Fischer will not be able to play for BYU this season due to NCAA transfer rules, but being that the Cougar Tipoff is just an exhibition game we got our first looks at the West Virginia native. Fischer got off to a really cold start going 0 for 6 from the 3-point line in the first half. He was able to find his range a little in the second half knocking down three triples and scoring all of his 11 points after the break. He still finished the night an ugly 3 of 16 from the field. I do really like Fischer's form when he shoots the ball, so with a year before he'll see the court for BYU I don't think the poor shooting night is anything to be concerned about at this point.
Graham Pingree (Forward, 6'8", 235 lbs)
Graham Pingree is one of two walk-ons to make this years 12-man roster. Pingree saw most his action in the second half with the blue squad recording three points, four rebounds, a block, and two turnovers. Pingree gives the Cougars another big body down low, but unless the BYU big men have some serious issues with foul trouble don't expect to see much of Pingree on the court this season.
Andrew Johnston (Guard, 6'3", 185 lbs)
Andrew Johnston joins Graham Pingree as the other walk-on to make the 12-man roster. Much like Pingree, most of Johnston's minutes came in the second half with the blue squad. Johnston turned in an impressive shooting night going 4 of 5 from the field including 2 of 3 from the 3-point line. He finished the night with 10 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and two turnovers. Johnston will have a hard time finding minutes among BYU's talented guard line, but if he can keep shooting like he did last night he just may earn himself some time.