Point Guard: A-
It would be an understatement to say that this was Ben Murdock's best game as a BYU Cougar. Although he only had seven points, he was tremendous in breaking Louisville's full-court press and only had one turnover in his 34 minutes of play. Murdock had five assists, but answered all questions regarding the point guard position that many BYU fans had for the team this season. He played stellar defense and handled the ball extremely well. If Murdock continues to play the way he did tonight the rest of the season, the Cougars are going to be a difficult team to beat.
Shooting Guard: B
Sam Burgess played 36 minutes and had four points, going 4-4 from the free throw line. While Burgess's numbers are not staggering, he played good defense and did not turn the ball over. He also was very influential on bringing the ball up the court against Louisville's full-court press. Jimmer Fredette played 10 minutes and did not score, only taking two attempts at three-pointers, but his biggest shot of the night came on the free throw he missed on the front end of a one-and-one, which would've put the game out of reach with about 10 seconds left. The Cardinals rushed down the floor and Earl Clark, who finished the game with 19 points, got a good look at a three-pointer with three seconds to play. The Cougars were up three when Jimmer was at the line and the free throw would've made it a two-possession game. The miss ended up not hurting the Cougars, and I'm sure Jimmer would love to have that opportunity again.
Small Forward: B
Lee Cummard fouled out, ending with nine points and going 1-5 from behind the arc and 4-10 overall. Cummard was in foul trouble much of the second half and only ended up playing 25 minutes. He continues to show why he is such a valuable asset to the Cougars with his defense when he's not in the game, but Chris Collinsworth gave Coach Rose some quality minutes to offset not having Cummard in the game. Collinsworth played 13 minutes and had five rebounds while playing good defense.
Power Foward: A
Jonathon Tavernari's effort tonight reminded me of the effort that Keena Young gave the Cougars last year against the Rebels in the MWC tournament game when he had 33 points. J.T. ended the game with 29 points and seven rebounds. He was 5-11 from behind the arc and kept BYU in the game with some of his off-balance, quick release shots. He creates a lot of difficult matchups for opposing coaches because he can go inside and outside and has such a quick release, which makes him hard to guard for some of the bigger guys. Expect big things out of him this season because he is one of the most polished scorers that BYU has had in years. He also has that leadership that we have not seen from a BYU player since Travis Hansen. He is going to be a special one at BYU.
Trent Plaisted created all sorts of problems for a Louisville defense that lost their big man David Padgett to injury a week or so ago. He ended the game with 21 points and 12 rebounds and some exciting dunks. J.T. and Trent scored all but six of BYU's points in the second half of the game. Plaisted was 10-16 from the floor in his 34 minutes of play. He made some baskets on some very difficult moves, while showing he can now go to his left or his right. There were about ten NBA scouts there, and I'm sure they were very impressed with the way that Plaisted dominated the paint in this game. He also kept himself out of foul trouble, not having a foul in the second half. Vuk Ivanovic came in and spotted Plaisted for some valuable minutes, ending the game with six points and three rebounds in five minutes.
Don't expect A+'s from me very often, but this is the biggest regular- season basketball victory for BYU in 50 years. This team has started to follow Coach Rose's persona, and you can see it in their eyes. They believe in Coach Rose and are going to go to work for him. When early in the second half when the Cardinals could've pulled away, Coach Rose made some adjustments that kept the Cougars in the game. He called a timeout and calmed his players down. The decision to put J.T. at the 4 rather than the 3 has turned out to put all sorts of mismatch problems on the opposing teams coaches. I love the way that Coach Rose has confidence in his young freshmen. At one point in the game tonight he had Loyd, Jimmer and Collinsworth all in. This shows that Rose has confidence in his players, which will allow them to have confidence in their coach. Coach Rose was tremendous Friday night.
Next Up: #1 North Carolina or Old Dominion Saturday night on ESPN2.