Blue Blood: BYU hoops lacks key element to be elite

COMMENTARY – Tyler Haws is good and has the potential to be one of the best BYU basketball players ever. But he doesn’t have it.

Brandon Davies can bang down low with the best in the country and is a master at taking a charge. But he doesn’t have it either.

Matt Carlino, at times, can be as flashy and dangerous as any point guard BYU has ever had. But he, too, lacks what BYU needs.

We could go all the way through the roster and it would be the same story. This Cougar team is excellent in many ways.

But they just don’t have that one guy who can stick a dagger in the opponents’ hearts.

Haws may get it someday. He has only been home from his mission a few months. But when the chips are own and BYU desperately needs a 7-0 run or a big 3-pointer or a steal and a dunk, Haws is AWOL.

Davies, due mostly to the nature of the center position, also can’t do it. Well, that and his penchant for picking up silly fouls.

Josh Sharp? Too raw. Craig Cusick? Not athletic enough. Brock Zylstra? Too inconsistent.

These guys are good and will win 20 games or so (BYU is currently 5-3). In fact, BYU will probably beat everyone they are supposed to beat. The Cougars will probably be a Vegas dream, winning the games they are supposed to win and losing the games they are supposed to lose.

But until they get that one guy with the Jimmer Fredette/Danny Ainge killer instinct, there probably won’t be any surprises either way.

Look at the schedule so far. BYU romped easily over teams like Montana, Cal State Northridge and Tennessee State. But the Cougars struggled against quality competition.

In the Florida State game in mid-November, Davies committed two fouls in the first 97 seconds of the game, basically disqualifying him from the rest of the first half. Nate Austin and Zylstra played well enough to keep the Cougars in the game, but it was 44-35 at the half.

Davies made a couple of buckets to start the second half, but then the Seminoles slowly started pulling away. It’s at this point that BYU’s on-court leader would step up and not let this happen. Unfortunately, the doorbell rang and no one was home. Within four minutes, it was 58-43 and that was game over.

The next night against No. 20 Notre Dame, BYU had a similar collapse, but in different circumstances. The Cougars actually led 49-42 with 14 minutes left. After a media time out, a different BYU team came out of the huddle and the next four minutes were a comedy of errors that included turnovers, missed shots and silly fouls. The result was a 12-0 Notre Dame run and BYU would never get the lead back in the 78-68 Fighting Irish win.

Last week against Iowa State was more of the same. BYU battled hard for most of the first half and were within 40-37 with 2:14 to go in the first half. Another dry stretch sent the game away for BYU, this time an 8-0 run just before halftime that put the Cyclones up 48-37 at the break.

ISU started the second half with four straight points as well and the Cougars would never get closer than 12 after that.

These are good teams BYU is losing to, but that’s the whole point. The Cougars may even make the NCAA Tournament this year after a second or third place West Coast Conference finish.

But the Cougars aren’t ready to take the next step. Not until they get that one guy who refuses to let them lose.

Notes: BYU plays at home against Utah Saturday (7 p.m.) and then is off until a Dec. 15 game at Weber State. The Cougars game last night against Utah State was postponed due to Utah State player Danny Berger’s shocking collapse and hospitalization earlier this week. Berger collapsed and stopped breathing Tuesday at practice and had to be revived by the USU trainer. Reports are good from the hospital as Berger’s brother, John, said he is responding to doctors’ treatments. Berger was in full cardiac arrest. The BYU-USU game will be rescheduled.


Andy Griffin is a sports commentator. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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