The BYU men's and women's basketball teams got their seasons under way on Friday evening with the programs' second annual Boom Shakalaka event at the Smith Fieldhouse. The players competed in a variety of skills challenges, including a 3-point shootout, an obstacle course-style relay and a dunk contest.
The men's and women's teams paired up contestants for the 3-point shootout, with Anson Winder and Cassie Broadhead ultimately coming away victorious. The winning team led all participants with 24 points in the first round. Both Skyler Halford and Xojian Harry and Kyle Collinsworth and Makenzi Morrison put up 20 points in the opening stanza, invoking a moneyball tie-breaker that sent Collinsworth and Morrison through to the finals.
With the trophy (or, more accurately, rubbery blue basketball — thanks, NCAA rules!) on the line, Winder and Broadhead dropped in a modest 16 points — but Collinsworth and Morrison couldn't capitalize, falling just two points short as their potential game-tying moneyball was ruled to have been released after time expired.
A couple things worth knowing:
- Tyler Haws, who spent his entire summer working on extending his range past 3-point line, struggled mightily. Not that a 3-point contest is really an effective simulation of game conditions whatsoever, but you know, it happened.
- Kyle Collinsworth has reworked his jump shot form. He's now shooting more of a set shot, and he's drastically reduced any extra movement in his upper body. It still looks a little stiff, but the principles are sound — and obviously it was good enough to get him into the finals. I was encouraged by his progress.
- Lexi Eaton, one of the women's team's best players, absolutely killed her teammate Chase Fischer — the prohibitive favorite going into the contest. Fischer was on fire from deep, but Eaton simply couldn't get a bucket to drop. Tough luck.
- Skyler Halford started hot, but cooled of pretty quickly as the first round progressed. (Insert your own joke here.)
- None of the current players were as impressive as BYU women's coach Jeff Judkins and former player Erin Thorn essentially lighting the building on fire with 27 points. It was quite the display.
I'm not exactly sure what happened during the skills relay. The principle is simple enough: there's an obstacle course of basketball activities (passing, dribbling, shooting, etc.), and teams of four players (two men, two women) compete to see who can collectively complete it in the shortest amount of time. A twist: After completing the course, each player on the team can shoot one halfcourt shot, with each make reducing their overall time by 10 seconds.
Past the basics, I don't really know what happened here. I can't remember who was on which team. I barely remember who won (Nate Austin's team). It all happened very fast.
What do I remember?
- Luke Worthington missed seven or eight consecutive 8-foot bank shots, slowing his team down by a good 20 seconds or so. But rather than let the potentially mortifying moment get to him, Worthington played it off like a champ, following up his bumbling performance with a hilarious, self-deprecating interview with event hosts Jarom Jordan and Spencer Linton. Stay you, Luke. Never change.
- Jordan Ellis hit a halfcourt running bank shot to seal the win for Team Austin. It was pretty cool, because he shot it from far away and that's pretty hard to do.
Holding a dunk contest at BYU is kind of like operating a Starbucks in Utah County: sure, you can do it — but you shouldn't have high hopes for success. Or so one would think.
Surprisingly, the boys brought some pretty good stuff this year. I mean, some things didn't change: Frank Bartley still wowed the crowd with dozens of missed dunks. Isaac Neilson filled the Shawn Bradley Memorial Tall Goofy White Guy Role. And Jazz Bear was somehow there as a tyrant judge with exceptionally high standards — kind of like the Simon Cowell of college dunk contests. But outside of the chaff, there was actually some surprisingly dunkalicious wheat. (I realize now this is a strange biblical metaphor, but I'm rolling with it.)
Josh Sharp and Corbin Kaufusi clearly separated themselves from their teammates in the first round, with Bartley unable to convert his athleticism into any actual dunks and Neilson just being way too lerpy. (Due credit to Neilson: his dunk over three cheerleaders wasn't half bad, except he cheated by pushing off their shoulders.)
Sharp won Boom Shakalaka forever and ever in the first round by taking last year's dunk over his wife followed by impromptu make-out session to its (bio)logical conclusion with an alley-oop slam off the side of the backboard followed by him hoisting his infant child in their air like he was Rafiki at the beginning of the Lion King. He also threw in a very nice, Dominique Wilkins-esque reverse double pump (which actually scored higher), but it was hard to top his Simba moment for pure entertainment value.
Kaufusi started off with a weakly executed 360 windmill jam, but made up for it with a carefully orchestrated football-themed dunk on his second try, which he finished with a massive LeBron James-style tomahawk — all as he was decked out in full pads and a helmet.
In the finals, Sharp clearly rose to the top on the power of his pure, freakish leaping ability. While Kaufusi failed to execute both of his attempts (a botched Vince Carter honeydip and an aborted free-throw line jam), Sharp made a statement with his first dunk — catching an alley-oop off the backboard from Jordan Ellis then finishing it with a monster left-handed tomahawk. That's not easy.
On his second and final dunk, Sharp sealed the deal by completing what was probably the most technically difficult dunk of the night. Beginning behind the basket, he threw himself an alley-oop over the top of the backboard, then brought the house down with a fully extended, 180 tomahawk – all in one seamless motion. He might not be able to do much else on the court, but the dude can jump.
Thanks for the good times, Boom Shakalaka. Looking forward to seeing how a recently graduated Josh Sharp uses a member of his family as a prop next year.