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What BYU Needs to do to Beat Oregon in NCAA Tournament

Oregon is beatable. BYU nearly did it the third game of the season when freshmen and new comers were raw and untested. This is a different team going into the NCAA finals.

Is Winder the key?
Is Winder the key?
William Mancebo

The first thing you have to know about the rematch between BYU and Oregon is, BYU nearly won the first game as it led through most of regulation play at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene. A late minute basket at 1:29 by Mike Moser tied the score setting up the overtime. On a neutral floor, the advantage goes to BYU this time around. Oregon was ranked 13th and when it played Utah a few days later was ranked 10th in the nation. For BYU to go into their house and take the game into overtime was a minor miracle all on its own. Many of the players on the team at the time were new to BYU, including freshman Erik Mika, Frank Bartley IV, and Skyler Halford. Not so this time around, there is chemistry and experience between the players now that wasn't there the first time. Also, it was the first time many of the players had faced such a highly ranked team on their home court. It was great experience that will pay off this time around.

In breaking down the game and why BYU lost in the end it boils down to some simple statistics. First among them is Eric Mika and Nate Austin fouled out. That would not have been as big a problem except for the fact that Oregon is essentially a guard scoring team. Without them, there was no one to guard the basket except Carlino, and he got his rebounds on the long bomb shots Oregon missed. They were 10-32 from 3 point land.

What BYU did not have in the first meeting was a credible Anson Winder, Frank Bartley IV, or Luke Worthington. Those three players are now ready to contribute. But I get ahead of myself.

The first step in beating Oregon is to replace the lost Kyle Collinsworth, easily the best all around player on BYU. This guy shows up, and he shows up every night in rebounds, scoring, blocks, steals and assists and he can shoot the 3. Against Oregon his line read 15 points, 2 blocks, 1 steal, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds.

For BYU to beat Oregon, that is the line the other players will have to replace, plus one. Let's break down what each player is going to have to do to replace Kyle.

First: Rebounding. BYU out rebounded Oregon 47 to 35. Kyle had 5. Where do we find 5 more rebounds? We need to look to the bench with Worthington and Bartley. We will also need to get another two rebounds out of both Mika and Haws. Oregon is not big, but they are fast. BYU needs to collapse and screen out. Those numbers are not too much to ask of Bartley or Worthington, both have come a long way in six months.

Second: Fouls. Mika and Austin fouled out. That is 10 trips potentially to the line and 20 points. Jason Calliste shot 13-13, Johnathan Loyd 4-4 and Damyean Dotson 2-2. That was 19 points. Cutting down the fouls by one each cuts potentially four points off the score for Oregon as well as keeps both big men on the floor, a critical component to winning. Oregon doesn't have the size BYU has and dominating rebounds could be the game in a close one again.

Third: Guard play, also spelled defense. Anson Winder has the chance to step up and be the star. This game could revolve around what he will do, no one else. His defense in stopping Jason Calliste from tagging BYU for another 31, or Joseph Young for 25, their two top guards, could be the difference. Anson is ready to step in and contribute on a bigger scale now than he was in the last meeting. His play, along with Skyler Halford contributing gives BYU a good one-two opportunity. Skyler went 2-2 from downtown and 2-2 at the charity stripe. His 2 rebounds added, but we will need to see him get more than two in the rematch, along with more than 14 minutes playing time.

Fourth: Standing at the stripe. Come on guys, really? You have been vulnerable all year long and been shooting way below your potential. The 61 percent from last game won't cut it in this game. Mika was 3-9 and all he needed was an extra point and BYU would have walked away with a win, and not in overtime. There is just no excuse except lack of practice to shoot 61%. Kyle was 5-8 for 62.5% so with a little better shooting from Skyler, Carlino and Mika, those 5 points are easily replaced. And the misses deprive Oregon of potential rebounds.

Fifth: Speed. Here is where Kyle will really be missed. His ability to run the floor, as well as play point and most any other position on the floor is hard to replace, but can be. The speed Anson Winder brings means there is a potential to match the two steals Kyle got and do better. The physicality and athleticism of Bartley, perhaps the best physical specimen on the floor, can match the floor running and add some strength to the floor.

There you have it. The five ways BYU needs to improve to beat Oregon in the rematch. Kyle will be missed, it will be a different game without him. The rest of the ensemble will have to play their game and do as well, but the good thing is, the new players like Worthington are more mature and ready to step up and contribute along with significant time. That will be especially true for both Winder and Bartley. Together, the "team" can beat Oregon.