Well, that was ugly.
Dead legs, terrible shot selection, no energy, weak defense, missed free throws … yeah, the BYU men’s basketball team deserved to be blown of the Orleans Arena floor by Gonzaga Tuesday night in the West Coast Conference championship.
When eight points is the closest you can get after the opening moments, that’s a really poor showing from a team who wants to be in the NCAA tournament.
The final score, 75-64, didn’t really indicate the low level of performance by the Cougars
I can only imagine that BYU fans had to be almost embarrassed by watching that dismal effort, particularly in the first half when the Cougars fell behind by 17 points at the break.
I think it’s clear the biggest factor in the debacle was the late-night, television-created semifinal against San Francisco that turned into a physically and emotionally draining overtime contest that ended around midnight Mountain time Monday.
The oft-parrotted line is that these are young guys, so they’ll have no problem bouncing back.
Either BYU’s guys are too old or that cliche is worth about as much as one of those colored chips on a Vegas casino table.
I don’t think anyone could argue that the Cougars came out flat, looked lost, played ineffectively and barely mustered any threat at all.
Bad games happen to everyone — but doing it on a national stage right before the Big Dance is hardly a good sign.
Whether BYU will be in or out will be a popular topic for the bracketologists as the big tournaments wind down over the next few days. There are the good computer numbers and some solid wins (mostly in November), and then there are the bad losses (mostly in January).
Frankly, the bottom line is it doesn’t really matter all that much.
Sure, it’s nice to be a part of March Madness and get a shot at surprising someone. And maybe the Cougars can do it.
But don’t bet on it and here’s why:
This is not a team who makes good decisions.
I saw it repeatedly Tuesday night as Gonzaga was whipping the ball around, patiently finding the open guy … and BYU was forcing up shots with three guys on them.
Plus, the Cougars only have three main ways to attack: Transition, letting Kyle Collinsworth (whose status is unknown after he left with a knee injury) and Matt Carlino try at get to the rim, and getting the ball to Tyler Haws to do whatever he can.
As we saw against the Bulldogs, when Haws isn’t shooting well, there aren’t many other options.
That’s bad news in a tournament setting against a decent team who will be ready for the opponent’s leading scorer.
The other thing I find to be very poor is the Cougar defensive energy when they aren’t scoring. Suddenly BYU isn’t as active, the help defense is late, penetration is easy and the Cougars don’t box out.
A solid opponent is going to feast on weaknesses like that.
BYU isn’t a bad team. I doubt they will embarrass themselves again like I thought they did Tuesday.
But I certainly don’t recommend picking them to win a game in the NCAA tournament if the Cougars do get an at-large selection (the exception being a possible “first round” contest against an equally questionable opponent in Dayton, Ohio).
I said back in November after the loss to Iowa State that BYU has to figure out how to beat good teams, particularly away from the Marriott Center. No Cougar team has been able to do that since Jimmer Fredette left town.
I don’t think it will happen this year either, unfortunately.
That’s why even if they Dance, I won’t be putting them to go very far on any bracket I care about. Ugly losses like Tuesday’s disaster don’t inspire any confidence at all.
Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.