3-pointer … 3-pointer … 3-pointer … floater … dunk.
Yeah, the Yoeli Childs BYU fans know and love was on full display in the first few minutes of the Cougar rivalry battle up in Salt Lake City against Utah as he made his first five shots.
Wasn’t it great to finally see the senior back on the court for the Cougars, knocking down shots, making plays around the basket, skying up for rebounds?
I loved it, not just because of what it means for BYU hoops this year but because Childs is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet in your life. He puts his heart and soul into Cougar basketball and deserves to enjoy his senior year on the court.
Still, his 29 points didn’t turn out to be enough to propel BYU to victory as the Cougars lost a game they shouldn’t have to the Utes, 102-95 in overtime, due to sloppy play and poor decisions down the stretch.
So it’s easy to not carried away talking about how great BYU can be now that Childs is back on the court because the second half and overtime of the loss to the Utes were a reality check:
He’s not going to be a great rim protector.
- The Utes were able to have a lot of success in the paint, even with Childs in the game.
He can’t get all the rebounds.
- BYU did a lot better on the boards because Childs helps out but it still has to be a team effort to clear the glass.
He won’t always shoot as well as he did Wednesday.
- Childs had a phenomenal shooting percentage (12-of-16) but that’s almost certainly unsustainable because he will have nights where he isn’t hitting.
He might not always be available.
- Foul trouble or injuries are always a possibility like they were on Wednesday, so the Cougars have to be ready to make key plays without Childs on the floor.
Would BYU have beaten Utah if Childs had been able to be playing down the stretch?
We’ll never know.
But even though the end result was a disappointing overtime loss on the road, it’s clear having Childs back will make a difference.
I expect the senior to be a consistent 20-point, 10-rebound player for the Cougars, so that will help significantly in both of those categories.
I think his presence will mean even more, since he is a guy who opponents have to pay attention to on every possession.
That means other BYU players like Jake Toolson and TJ Haws should in theory be able to get better looks.
There is still work to be done, obviously.
Childs needs to get fully back into the flow of the game and make better decisions at times. It’s certainly not fair to expect him to be flawless in his first game back.
He needs to know when to get physical on the offensive end and force opponents to foul him or let him score instead of settling for the fadeaway.
He’s got to be smarter with his passes and not set up breakaways for opposing defenders with lazy throws.
I think that although he has been practicing, he is still figuring out exactly how best to exploit the system of head coach Mark Pope.
That will happen — eventually.
I’m confident that even with all of his successes on Wednesday, we are only seeing a tiny glimpse of what a Cougar basketball team with Childs on the court will be in 2019-20.