Friday, December 17, 2010

Don’t tell me what happens!

If you have my cell phone number, don’t use it on Saturday. Normally I encourage any and every BYU fan to share their excitement or anguish with me, but on Saturday I want to be off the grid.

I won’t be able to watch either the New Mexico Bowl or the BYU basketball game against UCLA tomorrow.

I’m broken up about it, but there’s nothing I can do. My only solution is to stay up extremely late to watch ESPN re-broadcast the football game, and record the basketball game for a later viewing.

It should be a good day for BYU fans, though. I’m guessing we’ll blow UTEP off the map, and I predict a win over UCLA as well.

Incidentally if that does happen, if BYU wins both games, I stand to gain quite a few Slurpees from unsuspecting betting co-workers. I get one if BYU beats UCLA, and another if BYU beats UTEP by more than 20 points.

I think I’ve got this thing in the bag. Sugar rush come Monday morning.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Catching up with BYU Hoops

I care a great deal about BYU basketball, and, lest you get the wrong opinion about me, I decided it’s high time I let my feelings be known on the subject.

At 10-0, BYU is No. 16/18 in the polls, No. 2 in Sagarin rankings, No. 5 in RPI and No. 7 in Ken Pomeroy ratings. (And No. 1 in my heart.)

If you don’t know what any of those numbers mean, don’t worry about it. They all pretty much say the same thing: BYU is playing really, really well. But if you’ve seen them play, you already know that.

If you were inside the Energy Solutions Arena last Saturday, for example, to witness an 87-65 beat down of the Arizona Wildcats, you saw just how good BYU is and can be. We beat Arizona soundly, without our starting front court (Chris Collinsworth was injured, and Noah Hartsock was knocked out of the game), and with another post player battling foul trouble (Brandon Davies played only 13 minutes).

Not only that, but Jimmer Fredette again torched Arizona with 33 points, 9 boards, 3 assists, 1 steal and a slap in your mother’s face.

I hate to kick a team when they’re down, but how in the world did Arizona let Jimmer get by them again? I mean, it’s not like Fredette was sneaking up on anybody. He’s on everyone’s pre-season All-America list, he’s been conference player of the week 9 times, national player of the week another couple times, we just got done with “Jimmer Week” in which he made a much-publicized trip to his home town, and to top it all off HE SCORED 49 POINTS ON UA LAST YEAR.

Seriously, Arizona: How did you let Jimmer slip through the cracks again?!

The answer, of course, is he (and BYU) is just too good. We’ve got a great team this year. One which is fast, tenacious and plays together better than the Glens Falls Philharmonic.

If I had to identify one key to our success this year, though, it would have to be defense. Believe it or not, BYU has not played to its potential on offense yet. We’re below last year’s averages in free throw percentage, field goal percentage, three-point percentage and more. And yet we’re undefeated playing some great ball.

The reason is our defense.

BYU has one of the best defending front courts in the country with Jimmer, Jackson Emery and Kyle Collinsworth. They’re always picking off passes and filling up lanes. Theirs are probably the busiest (Honor Code-approved) hands on campus.

Charles Abouo consistently harasses people on D., Logan Magnusson is a bulldog, and our bigs are underrated defenders as well. Did you see our zone defense against Arizona? It was a thing of beauty. Totally disruptive.

With our last non-conference test (UCLA) less than a week away, I see BYU as undefeated come conference time. Then we’ll start the MWC season at UNLV on January 8, and the Dirty Rebels will feel the wrath of a new and improved BYU.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The minor, Miner bowl

So we're headed to Albuqueerque.

No doubt you all already know that BYU is headed to the New Mexico Bowl to play the UTEP Miners in what ESPN is calling the 32nd worst bowl game of the season.

Not really a lot there to get excited about. UTEP is one of the worst bowl-eligible teams in the country, and BYU doesn't look that much better at 6-6. The one thing the NM Bowl has going for it is the fact that it's the first bowl of the season.

Yeah it doesn't look that great, but you know what? I'm still fully invested. I couldn't be more excited to put a beat down on the hapless Miners and use this bowl win as a springboard into what's sure to be a 2011 to remember.

No doubt about it, the new-look Cougars are much better than their record implies. Our defense is freaky, and our offense has finally figured out how to move the ball with effectiveness. We are a much better team than UTEP, and I expect nothing less than a complete blow out. I predict BYU wins by 30, and we'll all be left with our tongues wagging, begging for another game. BYU will go out on a huge high note.

That's why I like this bowl game. It may not be the most compelling matchup, but the win will be huge for our confidence. The extra practices will be invaluable, the game will be a good experience for our young players, and the win will fill the program with positivity heading into independence next year. Plus, in a season like this you take what you can get. Remember: we looked awful earlier this year.

So bring on UTEP, I say. Bring on The Land of Enchantment, bring on Bowl season and bring on the dirt, dust and grime of Albuquerque. We probably won't ever come back, so let's wreck that dump.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Better late than never

I know, I know. It's been too long and everyone has already moved on. But I do have some thoughts about the rivalry game, and I would be a pretty lousy fan if I didn't make them public.

So let's just get right to it.

First and foremost, let me say this: any Ute fan that gloats about this victory is a moron. The Utes flat out did not deserve that win, end of story, and if you're bragging about it, then you're an ingrate. You should be down on your knees thanking us for letting you win that thing. The better team lost last Saturday, and everybody knows it.

Now, about the gift. I'm not as upset about the blown call as everyone else, even though it was obviously wrong. I'm more upset at Brandon Bradley. This is a senior leader, and one of the big playmakers on our defense. He should know, clearly, that he is not a ball carrier. After he intercepted Jordan Wynn's latest awful pass he should have fallen to the ground to preserve the possession. Running into the pile of angry Utes, looking to get the ball back after a costly mistake, was a big mistake.

About the BYU play calling, I don't know what's going on there. I do know that Jake Heaps looked calm, poised and under control leading the Cougs into field goal range in one of the most pressure-filled drives he'll ever experience, and taking the ball out of his hands in the final three plays is inexplicable. Heaps was a perfect 4/4 in that last drive, and he led us into FG range with plenty of time to spare. He deserved a shot to go the distance. Heaps needs to be freed, and I hope our coaches learn to use this weapon a little better next season.

Assuming the same coaches are still around next season.

Now let's give some credit to the Utes. Scratch that, let's give credit to the Ute, singular. Brandon Burton made a spectacular play to block Mitch Payne's winning field goal. Kudos to him. No one else on that team has any reason to celebrate. In fact, if I were Burton I would be downright offended if I saw guys like Jordan Wynn celebrating this win. Wynn sucks, and he's lucky his own fan base hasn't infected his bedsheets with herpes. I can't wait to see ol' Wynny boy in Provo again.

Finally, when all is said and done, I don't feel too bad about the loss or BYU's season. It's been a fun ride, and although there are no moral victories, I feel good knowing that we have shown we are better than the Utes.