BYU Basketball Preview: #43
Overall Rank: #43
Conference Rank: #1 Mountain West Conference
2008-09: 25-8, 12-4
2008-09 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Dave Rose (97-34 at BYU, 97-34 overall)
Coach Dave Rose has done a great job during his four seasons at the helm of BYU. However, during those four years he had Lee Cummard to rely on. Cummard was one of the best all-around players in the nation last year and at times during his career he carried this team. Can the Cougars live on without Cummard?
Key Losses: F Lee Cummard, C Gavin MacGregor
With everybody else returning who averaged at least ten minutes per game, the Cougars will stay towards the top of the conference and that means the newcomers will not need to produce too much. However, Logan Magnusson is ready to give the team some quality minutes. The junior college transfer is a versatile small forward who can do a little bit of everything. Shooting guard Tyler Haws and power forward Brandon Davies are highly regarded freshmen and wing Brock Zylstra is back on the team after redshirting during the 2006-2007 campaign and then taking his LDS mission.
But it is hard to see where the newcomers will find minutes, although they will certainly push the returnees for playing time. In the backcourt Jimmer Fredette is the new superstar. As a sophomore last year the 6-2 guard averaged 16.2 points, 4.1 assists and 3.0 rebounds. He is an efficient shooter from long range and is certainly capable of taking the clutch shots that went to Cummard last season. Jackson Emery will start by his side. Emery is not as explosive of a scorer, but he can hit the outside shot. Emery is mostly known for his defense, but it would be helpful if he could add a little more scoring to his repertoire to help replace Cummard. Lamont Morgan is the likely candidate to go from a roleplayer to a starter. Morgan only averaged 3.6 points per game last year, but he is a decent ballhandler. That would allow Fredette and Emery to play off the ball. With Charles Abouo and Michael Loyd, who sat out last season, on the bench, BYU has plenty of options.
The frontcourt might have to carry a little more of the load this season and that should not be a problem with Chris Miles, James Anderson and Noah Hartsock returning. Miles is the starter under the basket and the 6-11 senior is capable of playing a bigger role. Last year he tallied 7.1 points per game and 4.0 rebounds. Miles weakness is his free-throw shooting and when he gets the ball under the basket, it is a good idea to foul him and make him earn his two points. If he can increase his free-throw shooting, Miles will develop into a much more dangerous scorer. Anderson and Hartsock both had promising freshmen campaigns and they should take a little pressure off of Miles. Anderson is a little better scorer at this point in his career, but Hartsock will hit the glass hard.
Who to Watch:
The player who will hold this team together is Jonathan Tavernari. After opting not to enter the NBA, Tavernari should provide the inside and outside presence for this team. Tavernari is really a 6-6 wing, but he is perfectly suited to play the four spot for the Cougars. He is a superb outside shooter, but he will also use his size to finish around the basket. After averaging 15.7 points and 7.2 rebounds last year, big things are expected from Tavernari.
And big things are expected from BYU as well. Despite the loss of Cummard, BYU should be the team to beat in the Mountain West Conference. Fredette is ready to take over the backcourt and few teams have the ability to defend Tavernari. As long as Fredette can be the next Cummard, BYU might even win a game in the NCAA Tournament instead of losing, yet again, in the first round.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Lamont Morgan, Senior, Guard, 3.6 points per game
Jimmer Fredette, Junior, Guard, 16.2 points per game
Jackson Emery, Junior, Guard, 7.8 points per game
Jonathan Tavernari, Senior, Guard, 15.7 points per game
Chris Miles, Senior, Center, 7.1 points per game
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