If the loss the UVU was bad enough, BYU got some brutal news as big man Gavin Baxter tore his ACL. Mark Pope confirmed the news in his postgame press conference. Gavin’s knee buckled in the first half and he had to be helped the floor off by teammates.
The news is absolutely brutal for Gavin, who missed the majority of the last two seasons with injuries. Gavin worked his way back this offseason and looked really good in the first 6 games despite being on a minutes restriction. He was BYU’s third leading scorer at 8.8 points per game and was improving for each game.
For BYU, this will test an already thin front court. Fousseyni Traore will likely step into the starting lineup and fellow freshman Atiki Ally Atiki will be forced into action. Fouss has looked good early in the season and will be counted on even more. Atiki is 6-foot-9 and has great length and athleticism, but he is extremely raw. He was supposed to be BYU’s fourth big behind Fouss, Gavin, Harward but he will be forced into action now. Burgess and Pope are good big man developers and will be put to the test once again this seaon.
Richard Harward could return at some point, but the few things I’ve heard would make me surprised if we see him play this season. Still early to say for sure, but that’s my best guess.
I expect BYU to also go with a lot of small ball and have Caleb at the 5. Caleb and Gideon George are great rebounders and will hold their own on the glass. Caleb has had a bad shooting start to the season, so BYU really needs him to turn things around to give some sizzle to a small-ball lineup. BYU has played at a slow tempo so far and may push things more when they go small.
BYU has some nice wins to start the year despite the loss to UVU, so the staff will have to retool things as they go into a December where they 6 more games away from home.