BYU basketball played its first timed, scored game of the 2012-13 season on Wednesday night, as the Blue team defeated the White team 84-70 in the Cougar Tipoff.
Tyler Haws led all scorers with 26 points on on 9-17 shooting. Brandon Davies scored 20 points in just the first half, shooting 8-13 from the field, and sat out the second half after taking a fall just before halftime. Both Davies and Dave Rose said Davies was fine, it was just a precautionary measure.
Here are my random observations and thoughts from the game. Hint: I'm drinking the blue kool-aid.
Brandon Davies could be scary this year -- in a good way. A lot of talk (rightfully so) focused on the return of Tyler Haws and the growth of Matt Carlino (more on that), and Davies kind of got forgotten as he exited the game at halftime. But going against the length of Nate Austin and Ian Harward, Davies scored 20 points on 8-13 shooting.
But it wasn't just the points he scored, it was how he did it -- somebody seems to have developed a really strong face-up game. Remember at media day when he said he had practiced shooting threes along with the rest of the team? He wasn't joking about any of that, I don't think. Davies was 1-2 from behind the arc, and dropped home a few baseline jumpers and face-up bank shots with apparent confidence. If that's the Davies we see this season -- one we already know can score with his back to the hoop -- then good things will be happening in Provo. Very good things.
The return of Tyler Haws was indeed exciting. He was 2-3 from behind the arc and 6-6 from the free-throw line for 26 points, and he looks like he hasn't missed a beat. His stroke is as smooth as ever, and I expect him to terrorize defenses with a barrage of 18-foot jumpers and endless free-throw makes.
Matt Carlino looks better. It isn't necessarily anything mechanical or physical, he just looks better playing point guard -- and that was really the one thing fans wanted to see from him. Last year, he was erratic, at times frantic, in pushing the ball, putting up threes, or trying to drive. We saw a more controlled, poised Carlino who appeared to feel confident in running the show. He had 8 assists in 34 minutes.
JC Transfers: I liked what I saw out of guard Raul Delgado (14 points) and forward Agustin Ambrosino (17 points). Delgado was 5-10 from the field and exudes a confidence in his game. He only went 3-8 from behind the arc, but knowing his past, that part of his game will be there. Ambrosino was 8-15 -- 7-9 around the hoop/mid-range jumpers, and 1-6 from behind the arc. I like his game, but I'm not as confident in his ability to make threes. But if he can fill a big man pick-and-pop role inside the arc, that would be just fine.
Josh Sharp, haterz!
At media day and leading up to the season, players heralded Sharp as most improved, most athletic, and generally a good player. The interwebs were skeptical. But Sharp was 6-8 from the floor for 13 points, while adding six rebounds and three steals. With the loss of Stephen Rogers, Sharp may be ready to fill that role on the second unit after all.
The other player who stood out to me was Cory Calvert. The freshman was originally redshirting this year, but is now playing a year before serving a mission. He didn't blow me away (he went 0-4 from behind the arc, after all), but he did show that A) he should be a solid player in the future, and B) if absolutely needed, Calvert isn't the worst option if injuries happen. An easy upgrade over Nick Martineau, for sure. I recall one play where he was driving hard down the right side and a defender stepped in his path, and he side-stepped him on the fly, then dished to a teammate under the hoop. He showed more athleticism than I expected. He was the player of the year in Colorado last year for a reason, I suppose.
Here is the full Box Score for the game.
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It all comes off as a very positive review because, well, there wasn't a whole lot of anything to be concerned about.
The three point shooting was better, but still not great -- but that doesn't worry me a ton, because a decent-sized handful of threes were cast up well outside the offense given the exhibition status of the game. As long as players don't do that in real games (which was sometimes a problem last year), outside shooting should be much better.
Other than that, I think we've got a good team on our hands. How good? Depends on a few things like ball security and defense. But this team will contend for the WCC title. The combined improvements of Davies and Carlino make me confident in that.