Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What Davies' dismissal means for BYU and Jimmer

Well, for local fans swept up in Jimmer Fredette this college basketball season, Wednesday's news of the dismissal of Brandon Davies from the BYU Cougars was an Anderson Silva-like kick to the stomach (or head).

Watching BYU get blown out at home against New Mexico on Wednesday night, 82-64, sure didn't help the mood of any Jimmermaniacs.  

I'm going to leave discussion about the cultural issues about Davies dismissal -- as of right now, it's reported that he admitted to having sexual relations with his girlfriend, a no-no under BYU's strict honor code that students must abide by at the school -- and instead focus on the burning question related to the three-week long holiday that starts in a couple weeks: How will this impact Jimmer and the Fredettes in March Madness?

To start, I wrote less than a month ago that BYU was in line to get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, which was true at the time and certainly was a notion that gained considerable momentum in the last couple of weeks.

Now, BYU's resume will still be No. 1 seed worthy if the Cougars win their conference tournament (possible), but without Davies it is unlikely BYU will see its name in the top line. The NCAA tournament selection committee has a history of dropping teams down a peg or two if a star player will miss the tournament. For example, the Kenyon Martin-fueled Cincinnati Bearcats of 2000 spent most of the year at No. 1 in the polls, but saw themselves only receive a three-seed after Martin broke his leg in the Conference USA tournament.

So, BYU's chance for a top seed is out the window, in my opinion, because the Cougars will struggle to pass the smell test of the selection committee without their best rebounder and defensive presence down low.

But it's not like earning a top seed was BYU's goal this season -- probably just winning the Mountain West was the team's goal, truthfully -- and the Cougars will still get a one, two or three come Selection Sunday. If BYU really struggles without Davies and perhaps loses before the final of the team's conference tournament, maybe the Cougars get bumped down to the line of four-seeds, but that's unlikely.

Instead, what Jimmer and the Fredettes need to focus on in the team's remaining handful of games prior to the NCAA tournament is regaining their confidence in the wake of the loss of Davies and figuring out how to adjust their playing style to account for the loss of Davies. If I were in charge of the BYU program -- still waiting for the call -- here would be the three main things on my agenda ...
  1. Tell everyone not to worry at all about the loss to New Mexico on Wednesday night. Yes, it was a blowout loss at home, but recognize that A) BYU had no chance to win on the day it was rocked by the loss of a key cog and B) New Mexico also beat BYU earlier this season and may just have the Cougars' number. Sometimes, no matter how good a team is, an inferior team may just have the matchups in its favor.
  2. Pump up the confidence of Noah Hartsock. The smooth-shooting junior only averages nine points per game, but shoots 52 percent from the floor (and has an effective shooting percentage of 57 percent for the stat geeks out there). BYU needs to make sure Hartsock, who averages less than seven shots a night, is getting plenty of touches
  3. Finally, Jimmer. The Glens Falls native had an off night on Wednesday, scoring 33 points but shooting only 10-of-26 from the floor in doing so. My advice to BYU would be to take the ball out of Fredette's hands a little more often at the start of possessions so opposing defenses can spend less time sending multiple defenders his way early in the shot clock. Like any team with an offensive superstar -- LeBron James when in Cleveland, Michael Jordan in Space Jam --  the Fredettes often find themselves watching and waiting for Jimmer to bail them out with a 35-foot 3-pointer, which needed to change come tournament time, anyway.
When you consider that very last point, that BYU's Jimmer-first and Jimmer-second approach to offense needed to change come March, losing Davies is almost a blessing in disguise; it forces BYU to reconsider itself before the tournament, which could help the team avoid becoming a predictable one-man show come tournament time.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home