2007-08 BYU Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #37
Conference Rank: #1 Mountain West
2006-07: 25-9, 13-3, 1st
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
BYU’s top three scorers all shot over 54 percent from the floor and two of them return. Coach Dave Rose’s motion offense yielded a high scoring, efficient offense last year and that will not change despite a couple key personnel losses. All the new faces will cause some problems, but once the Cougars adapt to the newcomers, they will compete for the top spot in the Mountain West Conference.
Losing Keena Young and his 17.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game is going to be a problem. Replacing those numbers will not be easy, but at least the scoring can come from somewhere else. The backcourt has lost starters Austin Ainge and Jimmy Balderson. Ainge’s experience and leadership was a big reason why the team was so efficient on offense. Mike Rose, Rashaun Broadus and Fernando Malaman were all decent contributors and have wrapped up their careers at BYU.
The most important newcomer could end up being Lamont Morgan. The junior college transfer is a quick point guard who can use his speed to get to the basket and find his open teammates. Even if he does not earn the starting gig, Morgan is expected to see quality minutes. Incoming freshman Jimmer Fredette is a prolific scorer and could provide some offense off the bench this year. His overall game needs some polishing and he will need to learn to rely on his teammates, but the potential is there for a big season even as a freshman. Archie Rose has some experience after spending some time at Northeastern Colorado Junior College and Lee College. The 6-4 wing from the Bahamas is a solid shooter and the Cougars can never have too many shooters. Michael Loyd and walk-ons Nick Martineau and Matt Pinegar will add depth to the perimeter. At 6-9 and with the ability to put the ball on the floor, Chris Collinsworth is a versatile forward who will fit in perfectly with the Cougars up-tempo style of play. The Gatorade Player of the Year in Utah, Collinsworth can play either forward spot, but will need to gain some strength before he can effectively battle with opposing power forwards. The front line does not need much help this year, but James Anderson and Chris Miles will strengthen the depth of the unit. Anderson, a freshman, is headed to BYU after his two-year mission. The 6-11 center is a solid athlete who can run the floor extremely well for his size. Miles played for the Cougars during the 2004-2005 campaign before heading out on his mission. Miles is a solid shot blocker and defender and averaged 2.7 points and 2.3 rebounds as a freshman for the Cougars.
Who to Watch:
Lee Cummard will be asked to be the new leader of the backcourt. The 6-6 junior averaged 9.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals last season. Breaking in a new point guard is never easy, but having a versatile, smart player like Cummard in the backcourt will certainly help. Ben Murdock played less than eight minutes a game, but he will be fighting with Morgan for the starting job. Sam Burgess is expected to start at the shooting guard spot. Burgess, like Murdock, was well down the bench during the 2006-2007 season. However, Burgess is a quality shooter and if the senior can continue his high percentage long range shooting while taking more shots, the Cougars backcourt will be just as dangerous as they were last year. If Burgess struggles, one of the newcomers will have to step up and take over the starting position.
Outside of Cummard, there are concerns on the perimeter. That is not the case up front, despite the absence of Young. Trent Plaisted leads the way after averaging 12.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks last season. Plaisted earned second-team all-conference honors as both a freshman and a sophomore and that could very well be moved to first-team accolades now that Plaisted is an upperclassman. Jonathan Tavernari is more of a wing than a power forward, but the 6-6 reigning MWC Freshman of the Year works as a four in the BYU system. After averaging 6.5 points and 2.9 rebounds, bigger things are expected out of the talented, versatile forward. At 6-10 and 250 pounds, senior Vuk Ivanovic is not a bad guy to have coming in off the bench. He was limited in his playing time last year, but he has the abilities to be a bigger contributor. With the talented front line, BYU will be competitive in the MWC, but it will take the perimeter group stepping up big time for the Cougars to win the conference.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Ben Murdock, Senior, Guard, 1.5 points per game
Sam Burgess, Senior, Guard, 3.6 points per game
Lee Cummard, Junior, Guard, 9.4 points per game
Jonathan Tavernari, Sophomore, Forward, 6.5 points per game
Trent Plaisted, Junior, Center, 12.6 points per game