Cougar Bounces

BYU tipped off their conference season this year in much the same way they ended it last year: with a blowout loss to Air Force.

The Cougars fell 75-59, which was actually an improvement from last year when they lost 70-39 to the Falcons. Like last year, the Cadets came out on fire, built a big lead and never looked back.

While Air Force was busy shooting 56-percent in the first half, including eight of their first 12 three-pointers, BYU was in the midst of a 36-percent shooting half. BYU finished shooting just over 40-percent, while Air Force was just over 52-percent.

The only bright spot for the Cougars was Keena Young, who scored a career-high 16 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.

The following are my grades and other observations.

GRADES

Point: D. This would have been a failing grade had Austin Ainge not come off the bench to play reasonably well. Rashaun Broadus had five turnovers, several of them were completely unforced. Wherever his head was, it was not at the Clune Arena. The position combined for eight points, four rebounds, six assists, five turnovers on 3-13 shooting.

Wing: C-. Lone senior Brock Reichner continued his consistent play, although he struggled somewhat last night. He scored the Cougars first seven points and tried to keep them in the game. Jimmy Balderson was a non-factor off the bench, missing all three shots. Balderson has made more than two shots once since BYU played Boise State in early December. Mike Rose did hit two three-pointers late, but it was not enough. Lee Cummard found his minutes limited due to foul trouble. Jackson Emery was active, but Antoine Hood had his way all night on offense, as he scored 22.

Post: D. Another failing grade, without the efforts of Keena Young. Young made 8-11 shots, had a double-double and seemed to be one of the few Cougars who came to compete. The normally sure-shooting Malaman was 2-6 from the floor including a missed lay-up. Derek Dawes came off the bench late and missed two lay-ups at point-blank range. He is not very athletic, but there is no reason that a 6-foot-11 player can not dunk the ball on a put-back. Trent Plaisted was completely neutralized. It seemed he had forgotten how to play the game. He had as many traveling violations as shot attempts (3). He played 22 minutes and grabbed nary a rebound, which is unacceptable for a 6-foot-11 player.

Coach: D. Whatever the game plan was going into the game it appears it was the wrong one. Air Force had its way on offense. Every play they ran was executed perfectly and wide open threes and lay-ups were common place in the first half. Although the coaches made good adjustments at half-time, it was too little too late. The offense struggled all night. Even though Plaisted was being doubled in the post, BYU still could not get open looks on the perimeter.

Observations:

- After the no-show in last year's game at Colorado Springs, it was most disappointing to see a repeat performance. This team did not look at last year's game nor do they talk much about the previous season, maybe they should have to remember what it was like.

- For whatever reason, Air Force appears to be much quicker than BYU. Defenders were getting beat off the dribble and with how well the cadets were shooting on the perimeter there was not much help once they were beat.

- Balderson has made more than two shots only once since BYU played Boise State in early December. After a great summer at the World University Games, his game has completely disappeared.

- It was a very inconsistently officiated game. The officials in no way cost BYU the game, but it was frustrating to watch a very tightly called game when BYU was on defense and no where near as closely called when AF was playing defense. Just be consistent, that is all I ask.

- Props to Air Force for a great game plan. The doubled Plaisted in the post and he may as well have been on the bench for all he contributed. This is going to be a recurring theme against BYU so they better figure it out. They must figure out a way to keep him involved – whether it is penetrating off the dribble or reposting off a screen. AF seemed to content to let BYU pass around the perimeter.

- Broadus is shooting too much. He is second on the team in attempts, yet only Mike Rose is shooting a worse percentage.

- The up-tempo style is an offense well-suited for these Cougars, but they lack the ability to force teams to play this style. BYU seems unable to run against teams that do not want them to do so. If basketball is also a contest of wills, the Cougars are struggling.

- AF is a very good team. Many MWC teams are going to lose in Clune Arena. Several of them will lose big as well. Props to Air Force for playing a great game.

- The Cougars must rebound Saturday. They are home to Utah. Tip-off is 1 p.m. It might be early to call this a "must-win," but it just might be.


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