Posts Tagged ‘BYU Basketball’

SPORTS: Podcast: College Football, LaVell Edwards, BYU Basketball and More

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Sports

The PB&J Report returns for another week as Jake Welch, Ben Wagner and Preston Johnson dishe on (even more) college football, the status of LaVell Edwards’ legacy, the maddening recent exploits of BYU’s increasingly Fredette-centered basketball team and much more. Enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 005 — The PB&J Report (12.14.09)

SPORTS: BYU Basketball Weekly Roundup (Week 1)

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Sports

Jonathan Tavernari may have a surprise in store for all of us.

Jonathan Tavernari may have a surprise in store for all of us this year.

Is it just me or is the world’s sports calendar really messed up this year? Baseball ended late, football started early, and basketball started really early. I think this has been the reason it’s taken me awhile to get into basketball mode. Don’t get me wrong, I love basketball. It was my first real passion in life. I love everything about it — the dunks and the buzzer beaters, the bad tatoos and the even worse hairdos. I love everything from the athletic swingmen to the overweight centers, Coach K to Donald Sterling. I love the game of basketball.

That being said, I’ve still been in the football mode for the last couple of weeks and it’s taken me awhile to get into following basketball again, and especially BYU basketball. In fact, it took me until the fifth game of the season to finally attend a game. In doing so, I was reminded of just how much I love the game and love following the team. In that spirit, I’ve decided to shamelessly ape Jake Welch’s weekly BYU football roundup and start my own BYU basketball feature, keeping you updated on the team as the season progresses.

Coming off last Tuesday’s 107-51 thrashing of Southern, the Cougars were undefeated heading into Friday’s game against in-state foe Weber State. I arrived at the game early in order to secure better seats for myself and was particularly impressed by this year’s intro videos. Let’s just say whoever is marketing the basketball team seems to be doing a much better job than the person honored with spiriting the tradition of BYU football — which reminds me: the Ronnie Ron and Roscoe halftime videos, starring Lamont Morgan Jr. and Charles Abouo, are pretty hilarious. Just saying.

There was one thing that was readily apparent just a few minutes into the Weber State game that sets this team apart from last year’s, and that is the amount of depth available to this year’s squad. Behind the starters, quite a few players are seeing quality minutes, including Lamont Morgan Jr., Charles Abouo, Noah Hartsock, Michael Loyd Jr., and Brandon Davies. (On a sidenote, how many teams have two players with “Jr.” on their jerseys? I think this phenomenon alone allows for Lamont Morgan and Michael Loyd’s inclusion on the Junior All-Star Team, along with Sammy Davis, Ken Griffey, Henry Jones, and Carl’s. But I digress.)

The other easy observation is that this team lacks an alpha dog. Every team needs that one player to give the ball to in crunch time. That one player who the team can feed the ball to when everyone else is ice cold, knowing he’ll get them a basket. This year’s team would seemingly have two candidates for this all-important role. The first is Jonathan Tavernari. Now let me say, I am on the record as saying I think Jonathan Tavernari is the worst player in college basketball. Last season, he routinely gave no effort on defense, refused to fight for rebounds, and took 10 really bad shots a game without ever looking to pass to his teammates. Not to mention his generally douchey demeanor (tucked-in warm-ups, always calling for the ball, a personalized license plate that says JT 45, etc.) made him seem like the guy you really don’t want on your team. However, I saw something I’d never seen before last Friday night — Tavernari actually looked like an asset to the team. I saw him give an effort on defense, fight for rebounds, and he only took three really bad, selfish shots. He may redeem himself in my eyes if this trend continues, but he still has a long way to go. Nevertheless, he is not versatile enough to be the crunch time player: Your alpha dog should always be someone who can create their own shot. I’m not sure if Tavernari has enough moves to be that player.

The second candidate for the alpha dog position would undoubtedly be Jimmer Fredette. Jimmer established himself as one of the best players in the Mountain West Conference and an elite 3-point shooter last season. (He also gave me some free pizza once.) Yet he seems to have gotten the idea in his head this season that he is Dwayne Wade and that his strength is blowing by people, driving into the lane, throwing himself into the defender and twisting in mid-air to make an acrobatic shot. This is not his strength. In fact, this is exactly what he should not be doing.

Time and time again, I watched him drive into the lane and throw himself at the defense in the post against Weber State, trying to make an acrobatic shot. It worked once. Not to mention he spent far too much time dribbling around at the top of the key for the entire duration of the shot clock before trying to drive and play one-on-five. It was like watching the Cavs’ offense in the fourth quarter. Jimmer has neither the ball-handling ability nor the athleticism to be efficient at that style of play; He is best when he gets his excellent 3-point shooting going and finds a rhythm. He did that near the end of the Weber State game, and he looked much better than he had for the previous 30 minutes.

The lack of a go-to guy will cause problems for this team as the year progresses. If Reggie Miller has taught us nothing else (and, let’s be honest, he hasn’t), it’s that if your go-to crunch time player(s) is a three-point shooter, you’ll win some games, but not championships.

The Cougars have just one game this upcoming weekend — this Saturday against San Francisco at 4:00 p.m. at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City. San Francisco comes in with a 2-5 record and shouldn’t pose much of a threat for the Cougs. Look for a blowout and for Dave Rose to get a lot of the younger guys some quality minutes.

Three Cheers
1. Jackson Emery — Three straight threes to completely change the momentum and put us up in the second half. Simply put, he is the golden child and the team is significantly better when he’s on the court.

2. Brandon Davies — The freshman put in 10 points and 4 rebounds in just 11 first-half minutes

3. Ronnie Ron and Roscoe — No explanation necessary.

Three Jeers
1. Dave Rose’s personnel moves — Anyone with half a brain can tell Jackson Emery makes your team better. So why did he stay on the bench so long as Weber State cut the lead and eventually took it? And, as previously mentioned, Brandon Davies looked great in the first half — then didn’t play a minute in the second. Put your best players on the court, Coach.

2. Tyler Haws — You’re pretty terrible.

3. Whoever decided to play Austin Powers quotes over the PA during timeouts — Has any comedy held up worse then Austin Powers? Short answer: probably not.

Ben Wagner is a regular correspondent for Rhombus. He considers himself completely heterosexual, despite the fact that he has scribbled Jackson Emery’s name (with hearts) on the back of his notebooks.

SPORTS: Reflections on Fall 2009

Written by William Sutton on . Posted in Sports

The holidays are here! After we carve our turkeys and get a heaping side of football on Thursday, it will only be a few short weeks until finals and then Christmas and New Year’s. I am certain that we are all looking forward to the family feasts and free time that await us. But as winter descends and we prepare to dive into 2010 and all the madness that it will bring — like people saying “0-10/oh-ten” when they don’t mean to, as if 10 were a single digit number — I’d like to take a look back at some of the memorable figures, moments and trends from an entertaining fall.

Michael Vick — Remember when the Eagles signed him after his nearly two-year prison stint on dog fighting charges? Sports fans were anxious to see if Vick, formerly the most electrifying player in the NFL, could reestablish himself among the league’s elite. He has overwhelmingly failed to do so. However, I submit that his comeback has not been fruitless.

It did give me the chance to hear reports about Vick’s work with Philadelphia high schools in concert with animal rights groups “to reach young people” and be a “voice against organized animal fighting.” I’m sorry, but that is just hilarious. I have been out of high school for a while, but I feel pretty confident in saying that, on the list of delinquent activities for 14-18-year-old teens, dog fighting ranks pretty low. It just wasn’t a big thing at my school. I know these animal rights people are forcing Vick into this and the peer pressure talk is good, but if you want to help kids, maybe you should just stick with “don’t do drugs.”

BYU Football (and fans) — Like any good team in sports (especially collegiate sports), BYU’s football team wants their fans to feel like part of their success. I think I can say that, by and large, they do. After all, who wasn’t dancing in the streets after BYU beat Oklahoma in the season opener? In fact, I think I would have to thank the fans even a bit more than the team for getting our hopes up so ridiculously high that we thought we were a top five team — only to have them come crashing down the second we play any team with a mobile quarterback. How many years in a row do we have to do this?

Here is the basic pattern: 1) Pre-season hype, looking pretty solid, selling quite a few t-shirts; 2) “Huge win” (sliding past what proved to be an overrated Oklahoma squad or obliterating what proved to be an overrated 2008 UCLA team) that results in a huge jump in the rankings, ginormous spikes in t-shirt sales, and a ton of people who want to sell their home game tickets for hundreds of dollars on Craigslist; 3) Epic beat down that makes everyone feel like our team is a failure even though we will probably finish with a very admirable record and ranked in the Top 25 with another trip to the Vegas Bowl, which, I might add, is usually reserved for the conference champ. It’s a ridiculous pattern, people. Let’s be realistic and positive in supporting our team. We may not be as good as we thought we were, but we aren’t as bad as we sometimes think either.

Kanye West — I can’t believe what a big deal everyone made of the whole Kanye-Taylor Swift incident. This was one the funniest things I can remember. Not so much the incident itself, but the huge media freak-out that occurred right after. Sure, Kanye is a jerk, but didn’t we already know that? It’s not like this was the first temper tantrum he had thrown at an awards show. Also, it’s freaking MTV! Isn’t this the type of thing they live for over there? Kanye’s little outburst was the only way the show was going to attract any attention from anyone outside of the “depressed, suburban high school kid” demographic anyway. And though he acted like an intoxicated idiot, I actually like him better now than I did before.

Let me explain. All the celebrities who wrote on their websites about him — Pink (wait, I mean P!NK), Katy Perry, etc. — made it sound like he punched Taylor Swift in the face. He didn’t. He just said what he really believed. Yes, he did so in an incredibly rude manner, but in an industry that is built on false images, “Ye” didn’t seem too concerned with anything but telling the truth. Isn’t that, at least in some way, a bit admirable? I think so.

Kanye obviously has his fair share of character flaws, but what often makes others so mad also makes him lovable. He is a total loose cannon. So even though he is making bank off of you and me, I feel like I can at least glimpse the person he is and see that he kind of secretly hates the record industry and just wants to be himself. And to me, that is comforting. In Mr. West’s own words “y’all feel some way about K but at least y’all feel something.” In any event, this can, at its worst, only be the second most frightening unexpected mic grab in MTV Video Music Awards history. This is much more painful.

BYU Basketball commercial — Anyone who watches ESPN knows what I am taking about. BYU basketball bought a bunch of advertising space and has incessantly run one ad for the team all fall. It’s just music and highlights. You know, the one with the huge bass line that you can hear no matter where you are in your apartment? Anyway, I was just wondering if I was the only one who noticed that not even all the highlights are actual highlights. The last clip in the commercial is Charles Abouo rejecting a shot in last season’s contest against Wake Forest — or is it?

If you actually pay attention to the commercial, it’s really Charles Abouo committing a foul in last season’s contest against Wake Forest. You see him jump up and knock the shot away — but you also see play stop and the official walk over to the scorekeeper and indicate a huge hack on number one. I am undecided on what this means for our basketball team. But hey, regardless of the call, at least we know we will lose in the first round of NCAA Tournament! (That’s a joke. I hope.)

William Sutton would like to express his seasonally appropriate gratitude to all of the poorly thought-out decisions of others that made this column possible. He is a sports and culture correspondent for Rhombus.

SPORTS: Podcast: RSL, BYU-Utah and More

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Sports

In our inaugural sports podcast, Jake Welch, Ben Wagner, Daniel Anderson, William Sutton and Jamie Wood tackle a myriad of topics, from Real Salt Lake’s recent MLS championship to this weekend’s BYU-Utah football game to Jonathan Tavernari (of all people). You can stream and/or download the podcast below, but a word from the wise — due to some volume problems, it’s probably best experienced through headphones. We hope to iron all those out by next week’s episode. As always, thanks for reading — and enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 002 — Sports Podcast (11.23.09)

SPORTS: BYU Football Weekly Roundup (Week 11)

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Sports

The only Heisman pose that Max Hall will be striking this year...

The only Heisman pose that Max Hall will be striking this year...

Week 11: BYU vs. Air Force

How about those TCU Horned Frogs?

They sure proved to the nation they are worthy of their ranking by beating the snot out of Utah. I thank my lucky stars for this blessed event, not because a MWC team got some loving or the fact that Utah got put in its place, but because it completely overshadowed the fact that BYU almost got beat by winless New Mexico.

While the rest of the country was prepping for the showdown in Fort Worth, a couple thousand people in Albuquerque and thirty seven people via The Mountain watched a very lethargic BYU team get challenged by a New Mexico squad that proved they had some heart.

I said last week that if BYU didn’t score more than 45 and/or gave up more than ten points, it would be a disappointment. Well, it was. The offense found a rhythm a couple times and sputtered the rest of the way, while the defense looked like they were in Laramie (a.k.a. lost.)

Patchwork Line
Usually when a team struggles, the natural reaction is to point to the quarterback, cornerbacks or the coach. Most of the time we can easily blame the loss on the secondary, but that is not the case with this game.

One of the reasons why the BYU offense was not as effective on Saturday was that starting right tackle Nick Alletto was out with an injury. His back-up, Braden Brown, did pretty well for starting his first game at offensive line, but anytime you throw a new lineman into the mix you get less than stellar results.

Just look at the game earlier this year when the listless Oakland Raiders somehow beat the Philadelphia Eagles. Donavan McNabb had a horrible game throwing the ball, mostly because he was on the run all day long. On that particular day, the Eagles’ starting right guard and tackle were out with injuries.

For most of the year the offensive line has played stellar, considering their inexperience and long list of injuries. In these last two games, it will be critical for them to stay healthy. Air Force and Utah have good enough defenses that will take advantage of a banged-up BYU offensive line.

Flying High
If there is any team in the Mountain West conference that I am a legitimate fan of, besides BYU, it would have to be Air Force. I lived about an hour away from Colorado Springs and, almost every year, my father and I would go down to a football game at the Academy. It was around the seventh grade that I fell in love with Air Force’s triple option offense.

I remember spending hours in middle school social studies classes drawing up option plays in my notebook. I would go online and look at option strategies, so that one day I could fulfill my dream of coaching a high school football team to the state championship without throwing a forward pass the entire season.

My dreams have since changed, but Air Force is still one of the best option offenses in the country, despite lacking top-tier athletes. Just try and think of a player from Air Force that is now in the NFL. Usually their squad is a bunch of Rudys — guys that have a lot of heart, but not the build to be an All-American.

Their effectiveness stems from their hard work and discipline. Because they aren’t the biggest or the fastest, they have to be the most unified and cohesive team in order to get victories. They understand their limitations and make the most of their situation. If BYU does not match their discipline and effort, it could be a long day for the Cougars.

Prediction
Contrary to popular understanding, BYU has a pretty decent run defense. Sure, we can make any quarterback in the conference look like a world beater, but our defense has a strong commitment to stopping the run. However, Air Force will always find a way to run the ball, even against good defenses. The key for BYU in this game will be controlling the line of scrimmage on first and second down. If they can force the Falcons into third and long, they will control the game. Expect this game to be a dogfight. Air Force and BYU have had some epic showdowns over the years and this one should be no different. BYU 31, Air Force 27.

Three Cheers
1. The goal post — Blocked three kicks for the Cougars.

2. Andrew Rich — Was all over the field making tackles and stopping the run.

3. Andrew George — Caught a TD pass and became a dad… all in a day’s work.

Three Jeers
1. O’Neill Chambers — Football term of the season for O’Neill: fair catch.

2. Brian Kariya — Usually known for his ball security, coughed it up in the fourth quarter.

3. Matt Bauman — He makes me look like greased lightening… (I’m not.)

Basketball Blurb
There are two things you need to know about this week in BYU basketball: One, Jonathan Tarvernari might lose his spot on the Brazilian national team if he keeps shooting like this. He was 2-12 against Idaho State and 0-6 behind the arc. And two, it’s a good thing Jackson “The Golden Child” Emery decided to play offense. Like I said last week, BYU needs him to produce and he did just that with 19 points and 7 rebounds on Monday night.

BYU’s schedule looks like a list of community colleges until December 2nd, when they face off against Utah State in Logan. Freshman Tyler Haws is still looking lost on the floor, but he shows flashes of greatness that get me pretty darn excited for the future. Brandon Davies is just a beast. If those two come into their own by season’s end (and Tavernari discovers his calling in life is to be something other than a basketball player), then we might be able to win a game in the NCAA tournament.

Jake Welch is a sports correspondent for Rhombus. He is not, by any means, greased lightening.

SPORTS: BYU Football Weekly Roundup (Week 10)

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Sports

BYU wide receiver McKay Jacobsen evades a Wyoming tackler.

BYU wide receiver McKay Jacobsen evades a Wyoming tackler during last week's blowout win.

Week 10: BYU at New Mexico

Every once in a while, a certain team has ownership over another. In the case of Bronco Mendenhall and BYU, there is no question which team they dominate. Since becoming head coach, Mendenhall has beaten Wyoming by an average of 43 points per game, including two shutouts. Just internalize that for a second. Like I said, pure ownership.

Anyway, there isn’t a whole lot to talk about during the week between a Wyoming beat-down and a pending massacre of New Mexico. Simply stated, we looked really good on both sides of the ball against the Cowboys. It should be a lot of the same against New Mexico.

So instead of boring you with a bunch of fluff about why BYU should beat a winless Lobo squad, I’ve decided to answer a few questions about BYU sports and a grab bag of other topics. I will try to stick to college sports, more specifically BYU, but you never know what might come up. Enjoy.

Does Utah have a chance against TCU and their downright insane uniforms?

Absolutely. Unlike BYU, Utah has a serious knack for playing to the level of their opponents and then beating them. In last year’s game, it was clear TCU was the better team, but Utah stuck around and stole the game. This year, it’s pretty much TCU’s game to lose and, by the looks of the uniforms they will be wearing on Saturday, they are dressed for a lack of success. Don’t believe me, take a look for yourself. I was thinking maybe Nike would do something flashy for BYU’s uniforms for a big game one of these days, but then I realized that we have the most boring coaches in all of college football and it would be bad to break tradition.

What bowl game will BYU play in?

Insert joke about BYU going to the Las Vegas Bowl for the 37th consecutive time here. The sad thing is, it doesn’t get much better than that. The Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego is the best option, but after that it’s the Armed Forces Bowl, the Humanitarian Bowl or the New Mexico Bowl. I think tthe Mountain West needs to make up a new bowl game called the England Trucking High Plains Bowl and play it in Laramie, Wyoming. By golly, if they can have bowl games in Boise and Albuquerque, why not Laramie? Just wait five years and this might just come true.

How good will BYU’s basketball team be? (Or more accurately, will they win in the first round of the NCAA tourney?)

I really wish I could say yes to this, but I have a hard time trusting in a team that has Jonathan Tavernari in the starting five. Don’t get me wrong: the big-headed Brazilian can shoot — you just never know if he will make it. But even with him on the team, I like our chances. Jimmer Fredette will be one of the best players in the conference and Tyler Hawes and Brandon Davies will be legitimate diaper dandies. The two people I see making a difference on this team are Jackson Emery and Chris Miles. If they can provide any kind of consistency on a nightly basis, then they will go somewhere. Also, the fact that Lamont Morgan, Jr. and Charles Abouo are doing a viral video promotion legitimizes them in my eyes. They also gave me free pizza once, and what’s not to like about that? Maybe if Tavernari gave me some free pizza I would like him. (Doubt it.)

Will the Mountain West expand to 12 teams in hopes of becoming a BCS conference?

As much as this would be the most amazing thing ever to happen to the Mountain West, it will be years before anything happens. I was reading an article that reported a rumor that the MWC plans to invite Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada to join the conference. These three schools are the easy choices because of their strong football programs. Fresno State is also only a year removed from an NCAA baseball title and Nevada has the best basketball program in the WAC, so those are both pluses. However, the two reasons I don’t see this working have nothing to do with sports.

The first thing I see is the Mountain West Conference not wanting to lower its academic standards. As strange as that might sound, the MWC makes an effort to support solid academic institutions. A few years back, Fresno State and Boise State allowed “Prop 48” students on their football team. These are players that cannot meet the NCAA minimum academic requirement, which is a very low standard by any means. Fresno State cleaned up their act in 2003, but the stigma still exists. The same goes for Boise State, who hasn’t had a “Prop 48” player in over seven years. If the MWC thinks adding these schools would affect them negatively academically, then it will be a no-go.

Second, there is so much red tape as far as contracts and money that it would take at least two more years for this to take effect. The most important roadblock are the existing BCS conferences and the respective university presidents from each school. In the current system, their school is guaranteed a few million dollars every year, win or lose. It’s going to be tough to convince these people that they should give up part of their revenue.

If there is a time to do it, it is now with TCU and Boise State climbing the national rankings and the BCS antitrust stuff flying around Capitol Hill. These next few years will be pivotal if anything is to happen between the MWC and the BCS.

Is Riley Nelson the next BYU quarterback?

What’s not to like about a guy who comes in for mop up duty and picks up 71 yards on just 10 carries? There is no doubt that Nelson can run the ball effectively, but can he throw in this system? BYU opted to recruit a strong-armed QB from St. George, James Lark, out of high school instead of Nelson, who didn’t have all the physical tools. What led BYU to go after him when he got home from his mission was the fact that he is a playmaker.

The last time we saw a quarterback like this was current BYU quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman. When he first came on the scene in 2000, it was clear the lefty could avoid the rush, but his arm was sub-par. Then, in 2001, he led one of the most prolific BYU offenses in recent memory. True, he did have the help of Luke Staley, but he made his fair share of plays. Coupled with Harvey Unga, Nelson could be a reincarnation of his current coach.

However, there are a couple other quarterbacks headed to Provo that will challenge him for the spot as Max Hall’s successor. Highly recruited high school quarterback Jake Heaps has the attitude of a winner and has verbalized that he plans on competing for the job. However, it would be most logical to redshirt him for a year to maximize his eligibility if he decides to go on a mission. The aforementioned James Lark and Jason Munns are also slated to return for next season. Lark is said to have all the physical tools to make the plays, and Munns is a beast that put up gaudy numbers in high school.

So who will it be? My guess is that because Nelson has a year under his belt getting to know the system, he will get the nod from Bronco. From what I have found with Bronco, if it comes down to it, the more experienced player will play. However, if Nelson struggles, expect him to be on a short leash.

Prediction
I mentioned previously that there isn’t really a whole lot to say about this game. New Mexico used to be a solid program because of its previous coach, Rocky Long. Now they have the abusive Mike Locksley, who has managed to drive the program into the ground. If BYU doesn’t put up 40-plus points or if they give up more than 14, then it should be considered an embarrassment. The funny thing is, when BYU wins this game they will be undefeated on the road this year, with their only two losses coming at home. Their road schedule was pretty easy, but I still see this as a positive note. BYU 48, New Mexico 10.

Three Cheers
1. J.J. DiLuigi — When he contributes, BYU wins. Plain and simple.

2. Max Hall — I don’t care who you play, completing 20 of 22 is impressive.

3. Jamie Hill — The defensive coordinator changed up drills in practice and it paid off.

Three Jeers
1. O’Neill Chambers — I close my eyes in fear every time he has the ball.

2. Mitch Payne — We can always count on him to miss a field goal.

3. Laramie, Wyoming — The BYU football team ended up staying in the Little America Hotel in Cheyenne, passing up the opportunity to stay in the lovely Gas Lite Motel.

Jake Welch is a sports correspondent for Rhombus. His editor would like to express his shock that Mr. Welch managed to contain his seething vitriol about Laramie, Wyo., to only one sentence this week.

SPORTS: Brief Thoughts About Coach Rose

Written by Mckay Stevens on . Posted in Sports

This isn’t usually what I write about, but stories like these are inspiring and have a tendency to put things into perspective for readers.

Andy Katz, senior writer for ESPN.com, has written a fantastic article about BYU men’s basketball head coach Dave Rose. Months ago, Rose was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and his most recent scan came back cancer-free.

It’s a great story and, if you haven’t had the chance to read it, you can find it here.

Mckay Stevens is a film correspondent for Rhombus. You can follow him on Twitter @s_mckay.