This has been one of the most up and down seasons I can remember as a BYU basketball fan. There have been some high highs, but also some low lows as we saw with the finish of the Oregon game. Kyle Collinsworth's ACL tear against Gonzaga proved costly as the Cougars just couldn't match Oregon's firepower down the stretch. Overall, it was a good season, and as we look ahead to what the future could bring for this team, it's time to take a look back and see where this team excelled, where they struggled, and how they might look next season. Through the 2013-2014 season, BYU has been a very interesting team with a sometimes puzzling combination of strengths and weaknesses.
Getting to the Line
As of their second (actually first round game) BYU leads the nation in free throws attempted. The Cougars style of play leads to short possessions and they attack the rim constantly or look for mid-range jumpers with Haws. This makes for many opportunities for the Cougars at the stripe. Their performance once they got to the free throw line was varied. Some games it saved them, and in other games it seriously handicapped them. Haws was a very consistent free throw shooter, and Anson Winder became reliable, once he became a more regular part of the lineup, at the end of the season. In the game against Gonzaga, Winder's perfect 10/10 performance from the line practically saved the game. Haws ended the season on a 33/34 streak through the WCC Tournament and their NCAA Tournament game against Oregon.
BYU at times mimicked the Steve Nash ‘7 Seconds or Less' offense. They attacked in transition constantly and were able to get some cheap baskets when defenses were slow to get back.
These two other strengths allow the Cougars to nearly lead the nation in scoring with a very healthy 84.2 points per game.
For a team with BYU's size and scoring averages, one would guess that they shoot a very high percentage from 3-point range. However, this was not the case. This problem only seemed to be magnified in key losses against athletic teams. They shot 26% against Oregon in the NCAA tournament, 23% against Gonzaga in the WCC Championship game, 18% against Gonzaga In Spokane, and 26% against Utah back in the non-conference games. Generally, they did not take very many three-point shots, but if this was a strength, then it could have spread out the defense more for Mika and Austin and also given more space to Tyler Haws in the mid-range game.
BYU struggled to find points from their reserves, when they did they usually came from Matt Carlino, who became the 6th Man after a mid-season adjustment. Against Oregon this problem was especially pronounced, only 10 points came from the bench and they all came from Frank Bartley.
BYU constantly battled themselves by getting into foul trouble, especially their big men. Coach Rose was often forced to shuffle between Eric Mika, Luke Worthington, Josh Sharp, and Nate Austin to make sure no one fouled out too early. Consistent play from the big men generally was a struggle, so an unfavorable foul situation prevented them from finding a rhythm offensively.
BYU will not lose a single player to graduation. They do lose Mika to the Italy Rome Mission. Overall, they return a very strong and experienced team that will only grown on the successes of this year. Collinsworth was a very strong player only a year removed from his mission. If all goes well in his recovery from injury he will be 100 percent healthy by the start of his junior season. Coach Rose has done a very good job in recruiting, and it seems that there is a strong crop of 3-point shooters entering the program. Jake Toolson, Jordan Chatman, Dalton Nixon, and Chase Fischer are all entering the program soon and will help the Cougars shore up deficiencies in the long range game. And it's never too early to look ahead to Zac Seljaas, a rising senior in high school who has committed to the Cougars and is known for his long range shooting prowess.