1. Any road win in the WCC is a good win. A sweep of SMC and USF in the same weekend is an excellent weekend. So BYU’s last 3 games were all road games, against 3 of the best WCC teams, and they won 2 of 3, losing as expected to Gonzaga. Bodes well for BYU. Question: when will BYU allow any fans in the Marriott Center for future games? With home games coming up it would be great if a few fans could attend.
2. The first 10 minutes or so of the USF game were UGLY. Some of the worst basketball I’ve seen from BYU in a long time. So many horrible turnovers. Frankly, I was shocked to look at the box score at half time and see that they only had 7 turnovers at that point. I was sure there were 10 or more.
3. BYU has got to fix their slow starts. The last several games they’ve played tentatively and without any energy or assertiveness. I’d be in favor of changing up the starting lineup just to see if that might jumpstart things. It’s encouraging that BYU hasn’t panicked when they got down to SMC and USF, but it’s concerning that they got down by significant amounts to both teams to begin with. And then tonight, after closing to a 1-point deficit at half time, they quickly fell down by double digits. The only consistent thing was that the same players who started the first half and got down started the 2nd half too. Why not change things up? What have you got to lose?
4. Let’s get the officiating comments out of the way. The officiating down the stretch of this game was some of the worst I can remember seeing in a very long time. I thought the officiating in the SMC game was egregious, but what I saw late in this game was unbelievable. At least twice a BYU player got absolutely mugged and they ended up calling a jump ball. Loose ball on the floor, a USF player dives and totally takes Barcello’s legs out from under him, and no call. The interesting thing is that I didn’t have any significant gripes about officiating in BYU’s games prior to the WCC conference games starting. The refs assigned to the WCC games are not good.
5. USF had 9 steals tonight. That’s a lot. BYU has got to figure out how to take better care of the ball. BYU doesn’t have anyone who I would describe as a great ball handler. Barcello is just OK. Same thing with Averette. And they typically get at least a couple of TOs each nearly every game. I continue to believe that the player with the best “handles” on the team in Johnson. If I were the coach of a team playing BYU I’d be tempted to full-course press the Cougars the entire game. BYU has got to get the problem of poor ball handling and unforced turnovers fixed.
6. BYU was only called for 9 fouls tonight (USF was called for 19). USF only shot 3 FTs and made 2 of them. It’s hard to beat anyone when you only shoot 3 FTs. Great job by BYU on this aspect of the game.
7. Shabazz went off, again, from the 3-point line. Fortunately, tonight, it was too little, too late. Still he ended up shooting 8/14 from 3 for the game (many coming late in the game) and ended up with 30 points. Who can forget last year’s game in SF when he didn’t miss a shot all game. He hit a couple of ridiculous shots tonight. BYU knew what he is capable of and he still went off for 30. Gotta figure out a way to slow guys like that down.
8. Barcello 10/10 from the FT line. BYU did a good job getting the ball into his hands at the end of the game, and he was money from the line.
9. Harwood had 13 points, 11 rebounds, and a block. Great game by him tonight.
10. Haarms looked bad at times tonight, but he still ended up with 9 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks. A couple of his shots (both makes) looked horrible, but somehow went in. He seems to be getting more comfortable with how to best play with the team each game.
11. George brings energy and assertiveness, things BYU really needs. Things change—mostly for the good—when he is on the floor. Tonight he had 12 points, 3 rebounds, and two blocks.
12. Knell mostly disappeared tonight. No points and 1 rebound. He was 0/3 from 3. If he isn’t hitting outside shots, it will be tough getting consistent minutes.
13. Harding looked much better tonight. No points, but 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal. He looked a lot more confident and assertive tonight.
14. Averette had 9 points, 1 rebound, and 2 assists. He always does some good things, but sometimes makes me nervous.
15. Johnson had 5 points and 3 rebounds. When he has the ball I feel comfortable. Just seems calm and generally makes good decisions with the ball.
16. Lohner continues to get rebounds. He had 8 tonight. He also hit a smooth 3-pointer. That shot looked like the 3 3-pointers he made against Utah. Smooth and effortless. Hopefully, that’s a harbinger of good things to come.
17. BYU had 5 blocks which is great. They had 12 turnovers which is surprising (in a good way) after the ugly display in the first half. They were 15/18 from the FT line, which is great (thanks Barcello!).
18. BYU was only 5/19 from 3 tonight (26%). It’s interesting that Lohner, George, and Johnson were a combined 3/5 (60%) from distance. The rest of the team was 2/14 (14%).
19. Very good week for BYU. They need to keep learning and keep growing. Hopefully Pope will have this team playing their best ball at the end of the season. If that ends up being the case, BYU could be a very good team come conference tournament time.