BEATON: Cougars remaking themselves with joy

2011-10-29T22:30:00Z 2013-11-06T21:45:10Z BEATON: Cougars remaking themselves with joyBeky Beaton-Daily Herald Daily Herald
October 29, 2011 10:30 pm  • 

Everybody knew it was coming, but most people avoided thinking about it as long as possible.

That is, what would the BYU basketball team be like once Jimmer and Jackson were gone?

Players like that can't be replaced, but the program has to move forward. The question then, coming into this season, was how the Cougars are going to do it.

We're a long way from knowing all the answers, but a few of them were apparent during BYU's 91-74 exhibition game victory against Midwestern State Saturday night at the Marriott Center.

First obvious point: last year's height-challenged team is no more, at least for the moment.

After losing both Chris Collinsworth and then Brandon Davies last season, the Cougars were really thin down low.

Now, they have both those players back, and three more freshmen that are as big, or bigger, in Nate Austin (6-foot-11), Ian Harward (6-11) and Mike Boswell (6-9).

In addition, they have Josh Sharp, who's "only" 6-7 but plays taller because of his athletic ability.

Second obvious point: There isn't one single player through whom the offense is going to run. For this group to succeed, they're going to have to do it collectively.

And that's just fine with them.

"Everyone can score and contribute on this team," said Brock Zylstra, one of the squad's three captains this year. "Our bigs are animals who want the ball. It's all about hustle and desire."

There was plenty of both on display in Saturday's game. Not all of it was productive - the Cougars did have 20 turnovers - but they also had 21 assists on 34 field goals and outrebounded the visitors an astounding 59-39.

The most productive of the non-starters was Collinsworth. He struggled when he came in briefly towards the end of the first period, but gave an excellent account of himself in the second half, playing with abandon and no apparent discomfort despite still not being 100 percent.

He was 2-for-2 from the field, 5-for-7 at the line, for nine points, with six rebounds, two assists and a steal in 11 minutes.

"It was fun to go out and play against another team for the first time in 11 months," Collinsworth said. "I'm still trying to get in shape and shed a few pounds. It's been a long process and often a tedious one, and I'm not done yet.

"It was hard just to stay loose in the first half," he continued. "I was able to do some extra stretching in between, and after the break I caught my second wind."

The player, recovering from "microfracture" surgery during last season - he had a serious crack in his kneecap - said the rehab process has been somewhat uneven and frustrating; he'd make a lot of progress in an area one week, then have trouble with it the next.

"My shots and rebounds are off because my legs are off," he said. "My mind is ahead of my legs and that's hard too, but I'm going to keep battling. I'm glad to be where I am and I know I'm going to get better."

As for throwing himself around the court like he did, he just shrugged his shoulders about that. "I've made my living that way," Collinsworth explained. "It's how I play. Every loose ball, every opportunity is important, though I am trying to be smart about what I do.

"I just want my team to win," he added. "Whatever it takes, that's what I'm going to do."

It seems the whole team has adopted that attitude, based on what could be observed in this contest. If the players can sustain it, they will have the chance to write their own unique chapter in BYU hoops history.

Beky Beaton can be reached at


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