Last March after BYU bowed out of the Big Dance in the round of 64, I wrote a post asking if BYU would be better in the 2012-13 season than they were the previous season. In that post I was somewhat skeptical that BYU would be better. Losing both Hartsock and Abouo was big. As it turns out, my skepticism proved justified as BYU failed to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years.
So what about next season? Will BYU be better than they were this year? Here is some of the relevant information.
Losing from 2012-13 team:
Brandon Davies. The biggest loss will clearly be Davies. His size, talent, and experience will not be completely replaceable. At best BYU will have to hope that the big men stepping in for BYU in the low post will do so without a massive drop off in production.
Brock Zylstra. Brock was a solid contributor and glue guy for BYU. His rebounding might be what BYU misses most next season
Craig Cusick. Craig was BYU's best shooter from distance this season and was a steady hand at the wheel when he played point guard. BYU desperately needs three point shooters going forward.
Cory Calvert. Calvert emerged late in the season as the backup point guard and while his outside shot never got on track his nifty drives to the hoop helped BYU.
New faces in 2013-14:
Kyle Collinsworth: The former Utah Mr. Basketball will return from his mission soon and BYU hopes he can follow Tyler Haws' footsteps in shaking off those missionary legs and becoming a big contributor in his sophomore season. KC is a versatile player who could play the 1-4 spots as called upon.
Eric Mika: Mika is a powerful big man who has a solid chance of stepping in to fill the hole Davies will be leaving behind. It will be interesting to see if Dave Rose plays Mika more at the 4 or 5 spot. In any case I expect Mika will get a lot of minutes as a freshman.
Skyler Halford: Halford was just named a first team JC All American after a stellar season with Salt Lake Community College. He'll bring his talents to Provo next season and Dave Rose surely hopes Halford will bring a high three point shooting percentage with him.
Luke Worthington: Reports are that incoming freshman Worthington is a big, powerful low post player. Time will tell if he will come in ready to contribute right away.
Projecting a starting 5 for next year is tough. If I had to guess today I might go with something like:
Haws, Carlino, Mika, Austin, Collinsworth.
But Halford is a real wild card. If he performs well this summer and fall, I could see him starting at one of the guard spots. Collinsworth is tough to predict too, because he likes playing guard but could be used by Rose at the 4-spot as well.
Now as to the question in this post -- will BYU be better? The answer is... I just don't know. It really depends on a lot of factors that are impossible to predict. Will new guys like Mika, Halford, and KC really be ready to compete at an elite level next season? Will returners like Carlino and Austin improve noticeably year over year? Will any of the other guys step up and surprise us with a breakout year? Nobody knows yet.
One thing I am confident in predicting is that Tyler Haws will continue to be the best player on the court in most games next season. Further, Haws will continue to put up 20+ point games every night. But whether his teammates will keep up with him is too hard to predict.
If they don't, 24 wins and a NIT run will be hard to match. If they do, BYU will be back on the 25+ win train and back in the NCAA tournament.
I hope they do.