The Cougars came into last week with just one loss on the season, to in-state foe Utah State. The Aggies were able to do a good job exposing the team’s weaknesses on offense, forcing Jonathan Tavernari to shoot just 1 for 11 and holding Jimmer Fredette to an Iversonian 5 of 15. The team came back to Provo on Tuesday night hoping to rebound against the best team (on paper) the Cougars will face all season, Pac-10 opponent Arizona State, before traveling to California to take on Fresno State on Friday. Fortunately, the Cougars were able to come away with two wins; however, the team almost blew a 20-point lead in the second half at home against Arizona State. I came away highly unimpressed from what I saw from the team Tuesday night.
The news had spread prior to the Arizona State game that it would be a “white-out” and free t-shirts would be handed out. Of course, nothing brings the Cougar faithful out of the woodwork like the promise of free swag, no matter how lame the t-shirt design may be. It was painfully obvious that a large majority of the crowd were there for the t-shirts and not for the team. The home crowd seemed as lethargic as I’ve seen it in awhile, only coming alive after Jackson Emery 3s or when the cheerleaders threw more free shirts into the crowd.
The team was still able to grab a big halftime lead, mostly due to great defense and big efforts out of young guys like Noah Hartsock and Tyler Haws. Hartsock was able to rack up 13 points on 6 for 9 shooting , taking efficient shots and making some big baskets. Haws had the game of his career, scoring 17 points and notching 11 rebounds, while constantly crashing the offensive boards and getting big rebounds. He played outstanding defense. In many ways, he proved himself to be Diet Jackson Emery. Haws is in no way the most talented player on the team — he’s small and not incredibly athletic. However, he gave everything he had and showed a lot of heart, while giving more effort than anyone else on the floor. He’s young , but he’s exactly the kind of player every team needs to be successful.
Tavernari Suckiness Meter: Extreme Suckage
When the starting line-ups were announced over the PA on Tuesday, I felt as if God had given me an early Christmas present. Coach Rose made the choice to start Noah Hartsock over senior forward and Brazilian sensation of suckiness Jonathan Tavernari. Tavernari still played 25 minutes in the game, but he threw up a stinker, going 2 for 8. He did, however, set a season high in assists…. with 4.
The Cougars first half lead started to evaporate quickly in the second as the offense became stagnate. Once again, it devolved into Jimmer Freddette dribling around at the top of the key, driving into the lane and throwing up a terrible shot. At some point Jimmer got the idea in his head that he’s a born slasher — he is not. He did break the BYU record for most consecutive free throws made, as well as setting a new record for worst field goal percentage in the paint I’ve ever seen, going 1 for 11 by my count. The guy just can’t finish and should not be allowed to drive the lane.
Arizona State cut the lead to 4 with just 5 minutes to play. The Cougars, however, shot excellent from the free throw line at 92 percent and were eventually able to put the Sun Devils away. This brings me to a pet peeve of mine — let’s call it “Key Etiquette.” A tradition at basketball games is that whenever a home team has an insurmountable lead with little time left, the crowd pulls out their keys and shakes them at the opposing team, signifying that it’s time for them to go home.
Unfortunately, here at BYU the fans were never taught when it is and is not proper to take the keys out. For example, up 8 with 1:20 to play is not the time to pull out the keys. You are asking for a loss and the Basketball Gods will often oblige. If Reggie Miller has taught us nothing else, it’s that six points in six seconds is very possible. Let’s go ahead and define right now when it is acceptable to take your keys out:
1. The keys should never come out before the 1-minute mark. Never.
2. An insurmountable lead means at least double digits.
3. The general rules would be that it is acceptable to bring out the keys when:
- With 1:00 to go, the lead is 15.
- With 0:45 to go, the lead is 12.
- With 0:30 to go, the lead is 10.
4. If at any time the lead is somehow cut to single digits, you must pray to the Basketball Gods.
1. Benching Tavernari — Been waiting for that for years.
2. Tyler Haws — You’re off my bad side. Pray you stay there.
3. Noah Hartsock/Brandon Davies — Both are playing excellent with the minutes they’re getting.
1. Jimmer Fredette — How has he managed to regress from his sophmore to junior seasons?
2. The fans — Most of them came to the Arizona State for the free t-shirts and showed an appalling lack of key etiquette.
3. Jackson Emery’s ankle — Don’t do this to me.
Ben Wagner is a regular correspondent for Rhombus and is trying to set a record for consecutive articles with a Reggie Miller reference. Follow him on Twitter @ben_wagner.
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