Ben Murdock played well for the Cougars Saturday, but did not score a point. He was hacked while taking a ball to the hoop, but the referees felt that there was not enough contact to merit a foul. While Murdock did not score, he got the Cougars into transition. He ended the night with five assists and one turnover, a great ratio for a point guard. If he continues to play the way he has the past two games, the Cougars are going to have a lot of success this season.
The Cougars came out firing, and due to the big lead the Cougars had, Murdock spent a good majority of the second half on the bench. Michael Loyd ended the game with one point and four fouls. He played fairly well, but I still believe he is a year away from contributing big minutes for the Cougars.
I would still love to have Sam Burgess, ‘Consistent Cummard' and Jimmer Fredette all playing at the same time in the backcourt, but Coach Rose simply will not do it. He gave Michael Loyd a lot of minutes at the point Saturday, probably trying to get him some good game experience if he is going to take over the role of starting point guard next season. If we had Fredette at the point, Sam at the two, Cummard at the three, Tavernari at the four and Trent at the five, those are five legitimate scorers on the floor at the same time.
Nick Martineau got some minutes and played fair. I have a hard time believing that Martineau is going to be much of a Division I player. His mission should help him be able to thicken out and hopefully get a little bit taller, but if neither of those things happen, I can't imagine him ever being much of a contributor at BYU. He currently does not play very good defense and he is not much of a scoring threat on the offensive side of the ball. At his very peak, I imagine Martineau contributing like Murdock, but I don't think that he will ever get the minutes that Murdock has.
Shooting Guard: A
Burgess came out firing early and often, and he had nine quick points in the first five minutes of the game. He scored nine of the Cougars' first 15 points, as he started 3-3 from the field, including two treys and a three-point play. He shot the ball exceptionally well and ended with 15 points. It should also be noted that Burgess is a very underrated defender, as he did a good job defending J.R. Giddens, arguably the best player in the MWC based on NBA potential.
Fredette had a career-high six assists and lead the team in that category on Saturday. He also knocked down two three-pointers, ending the game with six points. I want to see Fredette get more minutes; the more I see him play, the more I like him. I feel like I say this too much, but I really feel he needs to play the point guard position.
Small Forward: A+
Lee Cummard was back to his normal self Saturday, as he ended the game as the Cougars' leading scorer with 20 points. He knocked down threes (3-4), got rebounds (five total), got to the rim (shot 6-9 from the field), and played tremendous defense, including one block that the crowd went crazy about.
Power Forward: A+
Tavernari showed up to play Saturday and shot the ball exceptionally well. He made the first five shots he took from the field, including his first three. This is the most consistent game he has played since the North Carolina game. He led all scorers in the first half with 16 points, as nearly everything he shot went in. This was not one of those games where his bad off-balance shots were just going in, but one of those games where he created good shots for himself and knocked down his open looks. I must admit that every time he got the ball I was nervous that he was going to take a bad shot, and when he would shoot, I would cringe. As the game went on, my confidence in Tavernari strengthened and I began to jump out of my seat and cheer for him. Tavernari shot 5-6 from beyond the arc and 7-9 from the field. What an improvement from Wednesday. He also contributed four rebounds and one assist.
Plaisted was big in the Cougars' win Saturday, as he had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Cougars. While 13 is a lot of boards, it seemed that Plaisted had even more boards than that. It was his sixth double-double of the season and fifteenth in his career as a Cougar. Plaisted was not great from the field, as he was 4-11, and he wasn't great from the free-throw line, as he was 5-9. When the game was out of reach late, Plaisted went to the line and knocked down back-to-back free throws. This shows me that I think it's just a psychological thing, as he has been consistent before games from the line as well.
I noticed something I liked from Plaisted in the second half. On one particular play, Trent tried to dunk a ball that did not end up going down. While others surrounding me were mad about this situation, I liked the way that Plaisted went hard at the basket. He was able to beat his defender time after time, as he had much better position and had easy lay-ups.
While the bench players did not contribute to the same magnitude that they did at Utah and in other games this season, they did play well. Fredette had six assists, and six points on two three-pointers. Chris Collinsworth banged on the boards and had a good put-back after Plaisted and Cummard could not get the ball to go down. I also was impressed again with Chris Miles. He got himself in foul trouble by trying to throw his body around and get better position on the post. I like that; I like the fact the he's trying to get better position and being physical. Miles did lead the team with four turnovers however, which is unacceptable from a post player that got 12 minutes.
At one point, the student section started chanting, "We want Archie," and eventually Coach Rose gave him some minutes. I simply don't see Archie Rose ever contributing for the Cougars because he's not big enough to get boards and doesn't shoot the ball well enough to take minutes from guards.
Coach Rose did a great job preparing his team to come out and beat up on the Lobos of New Mexico. He still needs to get his players to make more attempts from the free-throw line, but the Cougars played tremendous defense Saturday, and he deserves credit for that. The Lobos came into the game as the leading team in the MWC in points per game (75.3), field goal percentage (47.1), and assists (17.1). They left with 66 points and shot 34 percent from the field. That is something to be proud of. The Cougars are 13-1 this season when scoring more than 70 points in a game, and the Cougars came out and played great on the offensive side of the ball. They shot the ball exceptionally well from the field and from the arc.
Random Tidbits: Tavernari's second foul was one of the worst basketball calls I've seen in Division I basketball. Plaisted swatted his man, and the ref blew his whistle. Once he realized that he blew it too early, he pointed at Tavernari. It was a horrendous call. The officiating was much better on Saturday than it was against San Diego State, but still not tremendous. Murdock got ran over on a layup and there was no call. That is officiating though; you'll never have perfect referees.
Next Up: Wednesday @ Air Force at 7 PM MST