Point Guard: A-
The biggest question mark coming into the season has been the biggest boon for the Cougars. Ben Murdock on Wednesday had zero of the Cougars' 17 turnovers, as he continued to handle the ball and put the Cougars into their offense. Trent Plaisted had nothing but positive things to say about him after the game on KSL radio, saying that Murdock has been a big part of the Cougars' success this season. Murdock ended the night with two points on 1-3 shooting, and had four assists to go with his zero turnovers. On the season, Murdock has 37 assists to nine turnovers for a 4.11 assist-to-turnover ratio, and has proven to be phenomenal as a court leader and as a distributing point guard. Murdock also continues to contribute defensively. It will be interesting to see how he does with Drew Neitzel this weekend, as this will be a new test for this heady point guard.
Shooting Guard: B+
Sam Burgess was terrific Wednesday on both sides of the court. He had two steals and also tipped numerous balls all over the court as he slid into help-side defense and denied the wing. He also ended the game with 16 points, shooting 4-8 from the field and 5-6 from the free-throw line. He also went 3-6 from beyond the three-point line. A play that exemplified the way that Burgess has played all season was when he tipped a ball away from a defender, hustled after it and ran the distance of the court for a lay-up as he was fouled. Two possessions later, Burgess dove on the ground for a loose ball, getting fouled in the process. This grade would have been higher if Jimmer Fredette could have contributed more with his 22 minutes played. Fredette had two turnovers, was 0-4 on field goal attempts, and missed three open three-pointers late in the game. He ended with zero points. In defense of Fredette, it is difficult to get a rhythm going when you're given inconsistent minutes. With inconsistent minutes come inconsistent results.
Small Forward: B
Lee Cummard did end the game with 14 points and was 7-7 from the free-throw line, but he did lead the team with four turnovers, as he threw some very lazy passes. For BYU to beat Michigan State this weekend, Cummard needs to take care of the ball better as the 3-man. His offensive game is coming around and he has scored double digits the past two games. He also has been consistent at rebounding, and had six rebounds on Wednesday. Defensively, he got some lazy fouls that could have been because the refs called some very ticky-tack fouls, but he needs to be smarter defensively. He is our best defender and is going to have his hands full with Michigan State.
Power Forward: B
Jonathon Tavernari took better shots Wednesday, just as he promised he would to his teammates. He ended the game with 14 points, but was just 6-13 from the field and 2-6 from behind the three-point line. Tavernari takes some difficult shots, but he also makes some of those difficult shots. He only had three rebounds Wednesday, but had a block that looked like a spike on a volleyball court. Tavernari did have a steal and moved well in transition as he always does. He will have to be on top of his game against Michigan State for the Cougars to win, but I have confidence in him and I'm sure he does as well.
Trent Plaisted ended the game with 14 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks, two assists and a dunk in traffic. While he did not score his first basket until two minutes left in the first half, he was 5-9 from the field and was nails on the boards. It appeared Wednesday that Trent has learned how to slide his feet on defense and put himself in a good position to block shots. The guards for Weber State did not want any piece of the lane, as Trent swatted their shots numerous times and the crowd roared with "You got swatted" chants. Chris Miles contributed with some good minutes, as did Vuk Ivanovic.
Had the Cougars been playing a better opponent, their slow starts in both halves could have cost them the game. Coach Rose needs to get his players ready to play from the start of the game and get them energized. I still do not understand why Miles is not playing more or redshirting. Ivanovic is the first big guy off the bench for Plaisted. Miles is simply too talented to be buried on the end of the bench. If he is not in good enough shape due to him returning in June from an LDS mission, then he should be redshirting, but he should not be the third big man off the bench as he wastes a year of eligibility. He is much more athletic than Ivanovic. On another note, Coach Ray from Weber State had a good game plan for Plaisted and BYU by being extremely physical and double-teaming Plaisted when the ball went to the post. Coach Rose must've game planned for this, because Plaisted kicked the ball out well from the post when he was double-teamed, and BYU handled the physical play very well.
Chris Collinsworth continued his valiant effort on why he should be Coach Rose's first player off the bench, as he came in and contributed on the glass and defensively. Fredette could not find his shot, as he was 0-4 on field goal attempts, three of which were open three-pointers.
Michael Loyd appears to have lost some of the confidence he had early in the year, as he was timid with the ball on Wednesday. He did, however, penetrate the middle on a few occasions and hit an open shot on the wing. We need more than 12 points from our bench in a game where they are getting 66 minutes, but that will come with experience and when Fredette is hitting his shots.
Next up: #9 Michigan State at Energy Solutions Arena at 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 8.