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.