This was by far the worst game that Ben Murdock has played this season. After a generous 'B' grade against No. 9 Michigan State, Ben played poorly against a team that has not beaten a Division I school this season. Murdock did not score during his 23 minutes of play, as he shot 0-4 from the field. Murdock also committed two turnovers and only had two assists. While a C- is a low grade, this grade would have been lower if Michael Loyd did not come in and contribute fairly well. While Loyd contributed five points and two assists in his 10 minutes of play, it was his alley-oop pass to Lee Cummard for a dunk that will be remembered. Loyd needs to improve on breaking the press, as he tends to try to do too much dribbling and not break the press down by passing the ball. This was the worst game yet from point guard play.
Shooting Guard: B
Sam Burgess only played 18 minutes Wednesday night because of what appeared to be a sore ankle. He contributed with two three-pointers and two assists. Jimmer Fredette played 19 minutes and contributed seven points. Fredette had a couple shots that rattled in and out of the basket. I would like to see him be more aggressive as an offensive threat. There are times when he drives the lane and it appears that he's going to get to the hoop, but he then makes a pass. I don't think even his teammates are expecting it. He is a pure scorer and needs to have the confidence and the determination to develop that skill. I expect the more time that Fredette gets, the more consistency he will have and the better he will play.
Small Forward: A+
This is the best game that Lee Cummard has played as a BYU Cougar. He was two assists shy of being the first Cougar to have a triple-double since 1988. He finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and no turnovers. The past couple games, he has found himself on the bench in foul trouble and not able to contribute to the team on the floor. After tonight's win, Cummard said he was more worried about not fouling than scoring points. He did not foul out, but he certainly scored. He had 17 points in the first half alone. Cummard shot the ball so well that his arms appeared to hurt because they were above his head signaling his trademark three-point sign all night long. He was 11-16 from the field and 5-7 from beyond the arc.
Not only did Cummard score, rebound and pass the ball well, but he and Loyd added a clip for the end-of-the-year highlight reel with a thunderous alley-oop dunk. Cummard would have ended the night with 31 points had he not given Trent Plaisted a fast-break pass off the backboard for a thrown-down dunk. Plaisted was very complimentary of Cummard after the game. According to a Deseret News article, Coach Rose after the game joked that Plaisted and Cummard were lucky that the showboat play worked and said he would have rather them finish the basket with an easy lay-up, but did acknowledge that the players work really hard and those opportunities do not come very often.
While Cummard's performance was not against top-ten competition, it was every bit as good as Plaisted's performance against No. 1 North Carolina and Jonathon Tavernari's performance against then-No. 6 Louisville. That is how well he played.
Power Forward: B
The biggest surprise of the night was Chris Collinsworth starting in place of Jonathon Tavernari. Greg Wruebell said that the reason Tavernari was not starting was because of the poor shot selection he had against Michigan State and a poor practice he had on Monday. Tavernari's body language seemed to indicate his displeasure towards not starting, as he did not take off his warm-ups, his jersey was un-tucked, and he was not paying attention to the coaches during the first huddle. While Tavernari did not start, he did still play 25 minutes - 10 more minutes than Collinsworth - and contributed with 11 points. While Tavernari did seem to take some better shots, his shooting woes continued and he was only 4-12 from the field. Collinsworth pulled down six rebounds in his 15 minutes of play and showed that he can shoot the ball from beyond the arc, as he knocked down a three-pointer.
It will be interesting to see what Coach Rose does with Tavernari. An interesting thing happened during the game between him and Coach Rose. Tavernari was being substituted out of the game, and began to run off the floor. Coach Rose clapped for Tavernari and put his hand out to give him five. Tavernari slapped his hand in what appeared to be frustration, and Coach Rose had to walk with him back to the bench and talk to him. It is apparent that Tavernari is upset with his play at this point, but still has the confidence to continue to shoot the ball. What will be interesting is how Coach Rose works through it and what he will do to settle the situation so Tavernari can reach his full potential.
Even though Trent Plaisted had 22 points and seven rebounds, I cannot give him a grade higher than a 'B' after he missed 50 percent of his free-throws. He looked like the Trent Plaisted from last season as he shot 8-16 from the free-throw line. Lamar would not let him get a good shot off without sending him to the line. Other than the free-throw shooting, Plaisted played very well. He was too much for the Cardinals to handle. One thing I noticed about him and his free throws is that he does not use his legs at all; it is all upper body. I'm sure that Coach Rose has worked with him on this, but it appears as if he needs to work more on getting Plaisted confidence, because if Plaisted can't make a free-throw come tourney-time, coaches are going to throw three guys at him and make him prove himself from the line.
Lamar's bench outscored BYU's bench 34-23 on Wednesday, and that is with Tavernari's 11 points coming off the bench. BYU simply does not have much depth for scorers off the bench. Fredette needs to contribute more off the bench offensively. He already contributes by playing good defense, but he needs to have the confidence to be a scoring threat. Chris Miles and Vuk Ivanovic look lost on the court. Ivanovic was laughable as he tried to dribble the ball in the backcourt. While he had nine rebounds, he also had three turnovers on plays where he had no business being around the ball. With Gavin McGregor possibly being out for the season with a foot injury, Coach Rose and his staff are going to have find someone that will step up and give Trent a breather, because right now Ivanovic and Miles simply are not doing it.
I was impressed to see Coach Rose did not start Tavernari Wednesday, not because I don't think he is a good player, but because I think it's a great way of showing the team that this is a team game, and if one person is not willing to play by the team rules, then he will sit. It might be a good thing to bring Tavernari off the bench. He can bring some energy and momentum off the bench and it will allow Collinsworth to get some confidence to bring his game to the next level. It will be interesting to see how Tavernari reacts to that.
Next up: Pepperdine on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Marriott Center