As many realistic/skeptical fans said before the season, the point guard was going to be a position that was going to make or break the Cougars. Saturday was one of those nights that the point guard position was influential in the outcome of the game. As has been stated numerous times this year, Ben Murdock is not a super-gifted athlete. He has performed to full capacity early in the season against big time teams, but against Boise State, he struggled. With him not being able to shoot the ball well from the outside, defenses have begun to sag off him and have denied the ball into the post on a regular basis. He needs to gain some confidence and hit some outside shots so that coaches and teams will not develop plans to sag off him as a non-factor. If Murdock's play does not improve soon, Jimmer Fredette might need to step up as the point guard, as he has played well with consistent minutes.
Michael Loyd made some very lazy passes that he could've gotten away with in high school but not at this level. On two separate possessions he made two very lazy passes, one of them that was turned over and one that was deflected out of bounds. Nick Martineau provided some good minutes at the point guard position, as he contributed defensively and did not ruin anything during the Cougars' run when he was in. Something needs to change at the point guard position if the Cougars want to reach their full potential.
Shooting Guard: B+
Sam Burgess was 3-3 from beyond the arc in his 28 minutes of play and was a perfect 100 percent (4-4) from the field tonight. He also contributed on the defensive side of the ball for the Cougars. If Fredette continues to play the way he did on Saturday, he's going to cause problems for Coach Rose in regards to deciding who should be on the floor. Burgess saw less minutes because Fredette was playing so well. Fredette ended the game with 11 points on 4-7 shooting and had a beautiful no-look touch pass to Trent Plaisted for an easy dunk. The play started when Jonathan Tavernari rebounded the ball and passed it to Loyd, who threw an alley-oop pass to Lee Cummard. Cummard could not make an attempt at the pass, and it fell into the hands of Fredette, who made the aforementioned pass.
Small Forward: A
Cummard kept the Cougars in the game on Saturday. Besides his 26 points 99-14 from the field), he also had six rebounds, two assists and two blocks. The only missed shots he had came from behind the arc. Cummard is really playing with confidence right now and is playing the best basketball we have seen from the 3-position since we saw Travis Hansen take over games. Cummard was phenomenal in the first half. Without him, the Cougars would have lost by double-digits.
Power Forward: D+
Chris Collinsworth started again for the Cougars at the 4-spot. In only 17 minutes of play, he had four points and was not an overall factor. Collinsworth is still playing too passive. As a freshman he has some growing up to do, but he is going to be something special. For those of you that remember the way that Cummard played as a freshman and how much he has improved in the past two years, I expect that from Collinsworth. He is going to be a very influential player for the Cougars in the future.
On the other hand, Tavernari, the native from Brazil, appeared as if he was from Antarctica on Saturday. He couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat. He has fallen into a terrible funk and it continued Saturday, as he was 1-8 from the field and 0-6 from three-point land. Tavernari ended the game with four points, but he did contribute on the glass, getting six rebounds. He needs to get something going soon or he is going to see a continual diminish of his minutes. On two possessions, he was lazy and did not get back on defense. Both times, his man got an open dunk. On the first possession, the whole team was lazy and did not get back, but on the second possession, Tavernari was flat-out lazy and got beat.
It is hard to give a ‘D' to a player that had 12 points and nine rebounds, but when this player is Plaisted - arguably the most influential player on the team - grades are going to be subjective. Plaisted continued to struggle from the free throw line, as he was 4-9 and could not hit a free throw down the stretch. He was terrible from the field, only going 4-11, and could not get a bucket to fall. Some skeptics go as far to say that he is soft. I, however, am not one of those critics. There are times when he can be tougher and have a more competitive edge to him, but he is certainly not soft. Even after the terrible performance he had on Saturday, he is still the best big man that has come through BYU in a decade. Taking a player with the influence of Plaisted out late in the game would create many naysayers, but when he cannot convert free throws, it might be a move that Coach Rose should consider. Whatever it is going to take to get him to the free throw line and make at least 70 percent of his free throws needs to happen immediately or we are going to see more games like the Boise State game, where we lose by less than five points. Vuk Ivanovic and Chris Miles also are not contributing the way that we have expected, and it is hurting the Cougars in more ways than one.
When a team has an 11-point lead at halftime, it is hard to even give a ‘C' to a coach that loses, but because his players simply did not play well down the stretch, it is not completely his fault. One thing that Coach Rose should consider is having Fredette play point guard. Doing so would allow both Fredette and Burgess to be on the floor at the same time. The three current point guards are not contributing enough to consistently deserve minutes. Murdock has fallen off immensely since his great play at the beginning of the year. Whether Fredette can handle the point guard duties as a freshman is another question, but Rose has given opportunities to both Martineau and Loyd, so maybe it's time to give Jimmer an opportunity if it means having the best five available players on the floor at the same time.
If it were not for the performance of Fredette, this grade would be an F. Tavernari was awful to say the least, and no one else from the bench scored. Loyd did not have a point and had numerous lazy passes. Fredette's touch pass alone keeps this grade in the passing range. He simply needs to get more minutes and get them more consistently.
What to expect:
BYU will fall out of the rankings after losing to a solid - but not great - Boise State team. This is the same Boise State team that beat a 5-9 Utah Valley team by one point, and lost to Montana State and Loyola Marymount. While those two teams each only beat Boise State by two points, a team ranked No. 21 should not lose to the team that lost to them. BYU will not be in the rankings come the end of this week.
Up Next: Loyola Marymount on January 3 at 7 pm in the Marriott Center