BYU started Rafael Araujo, Garner Meads, Mark Bigelow, Luiz Lemes and Marc Roberts against an experienced and savvy starting five for the Brisbane Bullets – a professional team who finished toward the bottom of the pack last season, but signed better players in the off-season.
Brisbane controlled the game from the start. BYU played like they there to meet the Crocodile Hunter in Brisbane instead of playing basketball. Araujo was effective at times offensively, but picked up three quick fouls in the second quarter during an ongoing elbow dance with the opposing center and was replaced.
Halftime score: BYU 33 - Brisbane 51
At halftime, a visibly frustrated Brian Santiago, BYU's associate athletic director, exclaimed, "I am so embarrassed. I can't believe they came all this way and didn't compete in the first half. Last night, they came out with fire and intensity and tonight, it's just not there. We went for over seven minutes without a field goal and played no defense."
Clearly, the coaches had similar thoughts at the half. Things changed dramatically in the third quarter as BYU stormed back to close the 18 point half-time deficit to a manageable 61-65 by the end of the quarter.
It was BYU's bench players who keyed this run. In particular, Jared Jensen, Dan Howard, Kevin Woodberry and Austin Ainge were very effective doing the lions share getting defensive stops and takeaways and running an effective transition game.
In the fourth quarter, both teams went back to their starters and BYU looked very impressive with their two stars with Bigelow and Araujo scoring 19 in the final quarter. They also got a nice assist from Woodberry and Jensen. BYU took the lead at 80-78 on two Garner Meads free throws and never looked back, cruising to a 98-90 win.
Here are my first impressions from just one game way early in the preseason.
There were two main changes in the second half. They competed. They hustled, played with intensity and they looked to pound the ball inside first – that allowed Bigelow to create when the Bullets collapsed. BYU is a MUCH better team when they have this mindset. When they try to go outside-inside, I think they are a very mediocre team.
Rafael Araujo: 8 of 17; 19 pts; 9 rebounds; 23:32 minutes. I was sitting next to a coach from a rival basketball team in Australia and he couldn't stop talking about Araujo. He said he can't wait to see tape on this year's BYU-Utah game and the battle between Araujo and Andrew Bogut, the Utes Australian recruit who powered the Australian national team to the world championship. Araujo looked very good in the second half, had a couple of great hammer dunks and was a force in the middle. He looked very comfortable.
Mark Bigelow: 7 of 19; 27 pts; 4 rebounds; 2 assists; 31:31 minutes. Smooth as silk. His impact is felt immediately when he's on the court. He had a sub-par shooting night, shooting 7 for 19; most of those misses were in the first half. The coach next to me commented on what a great playmaker No. 3 is. In the second half, he owned the court.
Jared Jensen: 6 of 11; 13 pts; 9 rebounds; 28:56 minutes. To me it seems like Jensen is most effective when he's not playing alongside Araujo. Has a great post game and was effective. Played quite a bit with Howard, but in that line-up, Jensen's the obvious post scorer. Still, I'm sure the jury's out if he can be a solid 4 for the Cougs if he has to face the basket and play more athletic 4s.
Luiz Lemes: 2 of 4; 4 pts; 5 assists; 24:55 minutes. Played fairly well; had some nice assists, especially in the second half.
Jake Schoff: 0/5; 2 pts; 2 rebounds; 14:11 minutes. Played poorly, missed easy shots and seemed a step slow. I like his game, but not tonight.
Terry Nashif: 1 of 3; 3 pts; 5 assists; 23:40 minutes. Steady player. Played fairly well and was in during the main run in the 3rd quarter. Had some good hustle plays.
Marc Roberts: 1 of 4; 2 pts; 1 rebound; 14:49 minutes. Had a poor game. He reportedly played well in the first two games, but not tonight.
Austin Ainge: 2 of 4; 4 pts; 3 rebounds; 1 assist; 11:34. Showed great intensity and helped key the run in the third quarter. Showed good quickness and heady play. Had one sweet 360 move in the lane. I think he'll contribute this season. Seems very comfortable running the team.
Ricky Bower: 0 of 3; 2 assists; 16:09 minutes. Poor shooting night. Wonder how his back is feeling after back-to-back games and the 17-hour plane flight to Australia?
Kevin Woodberry: 2 of 8; 9 pts; 3 steals: 21:15. Kevin could be a big key to how well the Cougars play this season. If he can play within the system, and not believe he's Allen Iverson Jr., I think he's clearly the best point guard on the team. In the first half, he was launching it, but in the second, he seemed to play with more control and his quickness was a major difference as he seemed to be all over the court defensively.
Dan Howard: 1 of 3; 9/10 FT; 11 pts; 12 rebounds; 11:36. Dan played a great game. Was very active and aggressive –twice getting into scuffles with Bullet players and not backing down. Most of his points came from the line.
Garner Meads: 1 of 3; 4 pts; 17:41 minutes. Forgettable game for Garner. Seemed invisible at times, though he works hard.
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