Point Guard: A-
For those of you out there that had faith that Ben Murdock was going to be a good BYU Point Guard, I commend you. But I have speculation that no one knew how good Ben Murdock really was going to be and how good he is. On Saturday he had 10 assists to two turnovers, and ran the point like a polished veteran. While Murdock ended the game with only four points, he was 50 percent from the field. He has turned into a great floor leader and is the best defending point guard that BYU has had in a long time. Nick Martineau contributed 10 solid minutes as the backup point. For reasons yet to be determined, Michael Loyd Jr. did not play, despite being the backup point guard at the Las Vegas tournament a week ago. While I have been a critic of Martineau's defense in the past, the more I watch him play, the more I like him. He reminds me of Murdock, in that he runs the point and looks to pass first.
Shooting Guard: B
Sam Burgess scored eight points and contributed with some good defense. He also was 2-4 from beyond the arc. BYU fans have been spoiled by the off-guard position in recent years with Jimmy Balderson, Mike Rose, Mike Hall and others who have contributed by scoring points for the Cougars. While Burgess certainly can score, he contributes in many other ways on the floor. Burgess is always going 100 miles an hour and hustling to every loose ball. This may be the reason that Coach Rose likes him so much. He is a leader by example and wants more than anything for his team to win, whether that means he is giving the ball up or taking the shots. Jimmer Freddete scored in double figures with 11 on Saturday. He is a pure scorer, and when he gets into a rhythm he will put up some big numbers.
Small Forward: A
Lee Cummard returned to his normal self Saturday after being in foul trouble against Louisville and North Carolina a week ago. He was 7-9 from the field, 3-4 from behind the arc, and ended the game with a game-high 18 points. Cummard had four rebounds and six assists as well, and was simply the best player on the court Saturday. Like normal, he played stellar defense to go along with his offensive game. Expect big things out of Cummard when teams try to lock up Plaisted.
Power Foward: C
Saturday arguably was the worst outing of the year for Jonathon Tavernari. He could not get himself into a rhythm and was 5-14 from the field, including 3-10 from behind the arc. Every shooter has a game where they can't find their shot, and this was one of those nights for Tavernari. He still ended the night with 13 points and three rebounds. Expect him to bounce back in BYU's next game in an effort to get himself back to what we saw of him last week against Louisville and North Carolina.
Trent Plaisted ended the game with 16 points and continued to show why he is a something to be worth reckoned with for opposing coaches as they game-plan for BYU. Plaisted did take some difficult shots Saturday where he was double- or triple-teamed, but the more he sees that, the more familiar he will be recognizing it. Chris Miles contributed 10 minutes and had five rebounds in front of fellow missionaries and families he had served for the past two years. Both Plaisted and Miles were called for very questionable charging calls in the first half. Once Miles gets back to where he was before his mission, he is going to help Plaisted and the Cougars on the block a lot.
While Freddete chipped in 11 points, the rest of the bench had a combined eight points. In a 24-point game, the bench needs to score more points. Chris Collinsworth continues to impress me every time he enters the game. He had five boards in 11 minutes of play, and gives both Tavernari and Cummard good breathers. Vuk Ivanovic continues to show improvement on the block.
Coach Rose's team came out after not playing for a week and took a solid lead. While it was noticeable early on that the Cougars had not played in a week, Coach Rose got his team in a position to win the game. The Pilots made a 19-5 run in the second half before Coach Rose made adjustments that would have the Pilots' hope diminish.
Next up: Wednesday, Weber State @ home 7:30