It’s games like these that make you wonder how we could ever lose to Pepperdine. Nothing would make me happier this year than BYU winning the games they are supposed to win like they did tonight against Oral Roberts. These games are important for the team to work out their kinks on offense and defense and for players to gain confidence with the system. Another easy night means another fun recap, so let’s dive in.
-Yoeli Childs: Yoeli is making it really difficult to give the MVP award to anyone else. He had his fourth double-double in a row and has BYU fans everywhere making sure to thank Heaven above that he didn’t declare for the NBA Draft. 24 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. He literally fills up the entire stat sheet.
If there is any knock against his night it is that he wasn’t terribly efficient, going 9-19 from the floor (2-4 from three). Yup, you read that right, he made two threes! There is going to be a give and take with Yoeli this season; Yoeli wants to play in the NBA and clearly the NBA scouts told him that he needs to show that he can improve his three point shooting and be able to guard out on the perimeter. As BYU fans, we should be happy that Dave Rose is putting Yoeli in positions to showcase his talents but there is understandably going to be moments of frustration when we just want him to bully kids on the low post. The perfect example was the ATO play within the first 10 min of the game when Haws tossed him the ball in the paint and he embarrassed the poor soul that was tasked with trying to stand between Yoeli and the basket.
-Jashire Hardnett The close second for MVP was clearly Jashire Hardnett. 16 point on 6-11 shooting (1-3 from deep), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and only one turnover. It’s true that he is struggling to shoot the ball, but ask me if I care. He does everything else so well that he really makes up for it.
If you take out the Northwestern State game, Jashire has only had one turnover in each of the other three games. I believe I mentioned this before but this to me is a benefit of returning upperclassmen. Jashire clearly knows how to take care of the ball and handled Oral Roberts’ full court press with ease. With Jashire, it is really simple for how to get him going: don’t settle for threes and attack the basket. Once he gets past the first defender he is so dangerous. He has great vision and is one of the best finishers on this team. I was really happy that he continued to attack the basket tonight even though BYU ran away with this one early on.
-Dalton Nixon: If you have read my other recaps you might notice that I have had positive things to say about Dalton Nixon after each game. I promise it’s not because his dad follows me on twitter and probably (definitely doesn’t) read my blogs. It’s also not because he served his mission out here in Boston. I just think he is such a fantastic player. He is a high energy guy and is a really great defender. Dave Rose said before the game that this is an undersized BYU team and so he is going to rely on Dalton to matchup with other teams’ bigs. So far Dalton has been more than up to the task. Going into tonight Emmanuel Nzekwesi (6’8 240) was averaging 17.3 points a game. Nixon was tasked with guarding him most of the game and held him to 8 measly points.
-Connor Harding: Another great game by Harding. 10 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, and 0 turnovers. I love his approach too. His first thought always seems to be to get to the basket, which is so lethal when since he also has a decent shot. Teams are going to have to start actively planning how to guard him because I think he is only going to get better as the year goes on and he gets more comfortable.
-Luke Worthington: Not a good couple of nights for Worthington. 1 point, 1 rebound, and 4 personal fouls in only 7 minutes is a pretty rough stat line. Unfortunately for Worthington, he seems to be the odd man out with Baxter clearly looking like he can hold his own defensively and on the glass.
-McKay Cannon: The same is true for Cannon. McKay is off to a really slow start, shooting only 10% from three. With Harding looking comfortable early on and with Emery coming back (hopefully looking somewhat like his old self) then I think McKay’s minutes are also going to take a heavy hit.
-I did a deep dive to find footage of another person on God’s green earth who referred to TJ as TJ “The Jet” Haws:
-Shooting: I know I am starting to sound like a broken record, but we stink at shooting. Right now, wer’e shooting 25.3% from three. The national average is 33.6%. At some point BYU needs to start hitting these open shots or else we are going to be in for a wicked long year.
After Fridays game against Alabama A&M and next week against Rice, BYU is going to start playing some real competition with games against Houston, Illinois State, Weber State, Utah State and Utah. That is a tough stretch of games that we can most certainly walk away from with all wins. The key to that though is treating these tune-ups games like we have so far.
On to Alabama A&M.