Hey everyone! Before you realize someone actually wrote a novel on one basketball game and you decide to dip out because you don’t want to read this much, let me introduce myself.
My name is Ryan and I LOVE BYU basketball. Something that has frustrated me since I graduated and moved to the east is that it’s hard to find people who care as much about BYU basketball as I do. I thought that a good way to connect to other BYU fans is to write post-game breakdowns so that we can discuss together our boys in blue. This is a safe space, if you, like me, quickly forget about the importance of using clean language while watching games, then this is the place for you. With that being said, let’s get started.
-Jahshire Hardnett: Alright, so the way we’re going to start off this section every game is to highlight the player of the game. That player doesn’t necessarily need to have the most points or whatever, but have the greatest impact on the game.
I don’t know if there is a stronger argument for anyone other than Jahshire Hardnett. Look at his line: 17 pts on 6-15 (1-5 from deep) 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and my personal favorite—only one turnover. You could feel Jahshire’s impact all over this game. Dave Rose said before the game that the key to BYU’s success would be Jahshire. I think that is extremely accurate. While there is no shortage of talent on this team, I think the thing this team lacks (obviously we’re one game in so take this with a grain of salt) is playmakers. TJ was nowhere to be found last night and in the second half, before things got out of hand, Jahshire was our only option to get a bucket. Granted, he took a few ill-advised threes, but I would argue that part of the blame for those shots falls on Dave Rose for not calling a set play in situations where we really needed a good shot. Jahshire was attacking the basket and was clearly able to handle the athleticism of Nevada.
-Turnovers: 8 turnovers!!! I don’t know about you, but when I heard that BYU was going to go back to an up tempo style of basketball, the pessimistic BYU fan in me immediately thought this means two things: 1) below average defense and 2) turnovers galore. I was thrilled last night to see them take care of the ball (outside of TJ...5 TOs...WOOF—more on that later). I think we’re going to have nights where the number of TOs gets out of hand, such is life in an up-tempo style of basketball, but seeing BYU be able to take care of the ball against a really good basketball team with crazy length has me all kinds of excited. This, to me, is the benefit of returning so many upperclassmen, something we have missed the past few years.
-Freshmen: Finally, the freshman. Baxter, Lee, and Harding combined for 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 assists. I was especially impressed with Baxter. If I was a betting man, my guess would be that by the end of the year Baxter will be taking some of Worthington’s minutes. I thought he played within himself and used his athleticism and length to put himself in good positions.
-Shooting: Field Goals: 26-60 (37.7%); Three Point: 6-31 (19.4). Folks,,, that ain’t gonna cut it. They could not shoot the ball at all last night. I attribute those percentages to a few things: Nevada’s length and shot selection. Look at the height of Nevada’s starting five: 6-7, 6-7, 6-7, 6-7, 6-11. That is insane!!! Talk about position-less basketball. You could tell their length was giving BYU fits.
BYU struggled to make entry passes to the low post to get Yoeli the ball in good positions and that forced them to take deep threes with hands in the face. This is where I got a little bit frustrated with Dave Rose because there were a few times when I felt like we really needed a basket and it would have been nice to run a legit play to get TJ or Seljaas a shot coming off a screen. This is the benefit of the offense they ran last year in that they are a lot better in the half court. This team is going to GET BUCKETS in transition. What immediately comes to mind is the steal that led to a Seljaas corner three. What remains to be seen is if they can still get those open looks within the offense.
-TJ Haws: Alright, time to address the elephant in the room. I don’t want to be mean, but man did TJ have a rough game. 5 points on 2-9 (1-5 from deep), 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 5 turnovers. TJ has amazing court vision and obviously drops dimes, but this is what I mean when I was talking about the lack of playmakers. Relying on TJ to create his own shot isn’t the recipe for success. TJ is most lethal when he is coming off screens without the ball and hitting those daggers or coming off the pick and roll. Some of his turnovers where just the result of him trying to make something happen when I would much rather him let the offense create shots for him.
Chances are TJ Haws won’t be guarded by someone as good as Cody Martin the rest of the year (6’7” PG, future NBA player, MWC defensive player of the year), so hopefully we’ll see him bounce back.
-Fouls: 27 fouls. I’ll repeat, 27 fouls. Look, I am just as much of a passionate fan as the rest of you so you better believe I was yelling at the refs to swallow the dang whistle and let the boys play. This was an 11 o’clock game on the east coast, so my shouting at the zebras was answered with my wife telling me to shut up and not wake up our two year old. There were plenty of ticky-tack fouls that were really frustrating. That being said, I’m gonna need Yoeli to not foul a three-point shooter — especially when he already had 3 fouls. The good thing is Yoeli is a veteran. I get that he let his desire to make a play get the best of him and I have no doubt that he will learn from this going forward.
I like to think of myself as a BYU realist. Some may call it pessimistic, but I just don’t want to get my hopes up too much to have BYU walk all over my heart like my freshman year girlfriend did when I found out she wanting nothing to do with waiting for me on my mission. Howeva (Stephen A. Smith voice), I think there was a lot to be excited about from this game. I am really happy that Dave Rose scheduled some legit teams in our out of conference games. This will only help when we have to play the Zags and Saint Mary’s. I think this is going to be the BYU team that will take us back to the Big Dance.
On to UVU.