Can BYU recover after not waking up in Vegas?

2010-02-07T09:00:00Z Can BYU recover after not waking up in Vegas?Darnell Dickson - Daily Herald Daily Herald
February 07, 2010 9:00 am  • 

Losses happen.

So does Vegas to BYU, seven straight times now.

It wasn't so much that the Cougars lost to UNLV, is was how non-competitive the game was. The Rebels came out smoking and BYU had no response. It was the first time this year the Cougars played like they were afraid of their opponent.

The good news for BYU is that it is still in first place with the toughest games remaining on its schedule at home. The bad news is the Cougars looked helpless as a kitten against UNLV.

Here's some ideas (non-solicited, of course) about what the Cougars should be thinking about this next week.

Defense

So no one, not even Jackson Emery, can guard UNLV's Tre'Von Willis. This team isn't built on individual defense, anyway. The Cougars have to play better team defense, helping and rotating. They were slow to get out on UNLV's shooters, epecially Matt Shaw. He's a post player who hangs out at the 3-point line. Even I know that. Yet the Cougars left him wide open three times in the first half.

I don't think UNLV, a 30 percent 3-point shooting team coming into Saturday, will shoot like that again. But for future games, BYU needs to rely on its defensive system and work much harder to get to shooters.

Offense

UNLV's ball pressure and pressure on the wings totally unnerved BYU. And the Cougars got nothing from their post players, on either end. While not a lot of points come from the post anyway, BYU wasn't even able to get any post touches out of their offensive sets. That helps collapse the defense and get them moving. As it was, all UNLV had to do was put someone on Jimmer Fredette and the other four guys got to just stand still and watch - just like the rest of BYU's team. Yes, you want the ball in Fredette's hands the majority of the time but you have to make the defense work through screens and defend for longer periods of time.

It doesn't help Fredette that both Jackson Emery and Tyler Haws are struggling to score right now. Emery is taking too many 3-point shots early in the shot clock and Haws seems to have hit a freshman wall. When Emery and Haws can't score, Fredette has to take too many acrobatic shots and depend on getting calls while driving to the basket.

Dave Rose's teams have closed strong every year he's been at BYU, and the Cougars do have a full week to rest up and gather themselves before playing Air Force in Provo. A good stretch run would go a long way in helping BYU forget about Vegas ... until the MWC tournament.

But if the Cougars want to get that NCAA monkey off its back, there's still a lot of work to do. An average stretch run will put BYU right where it's always been - an 8 or 9 seed.

And we all now how that's turned out.

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