BYU may struggle without Davies
By Lynn Debruin
PROVO, Utah ó Zero is the number 6-foot-9 forward Brandon Davies wore before being booted off BYUís team this week for breaking the schoolís honor code.
Does it now also represent the odds the third-ranked Cougars have of making a deep run in the NCAA tournament?
Signs in the arena insisted ěWe Believeî while others reminded opponents that ěWe Still Have Jimmer.î
But player of the year candidate Jimmer Fredette can only do so much.
If anything, Wednesday nightís lopsided loss to New Mexico showed that, and further exposed something BYU critics have been saying all year ó that the Cougars donít have enough power up front to be considered among the very best teams in the country.
Before Davies was dismissed from the team Tuesday for having premarital sex, according to reports in the Salt Lake Tribune, the Cougars ranked seventh in the Mountain West Conference in rebounds allowed.
On Wednesday without Davies, they were outrebounded 45-29, including 33-22 on the defensive boards.
ěWe wanted to go inside,î Lobos coach Steve Alford admitted after Wednesdayís 82-64 victory, the second straight over the Cougars this season. ě(Davies) has been very, very big for them all year. Heís very skilled and heís very talented … thatís a tremendous loss, so we just wanted to make sure that we went inside as much as possible.î
The Lobos wonít be the only one.
BYU might get by in the early rounds of next weekís Mountain West Conference tournament, where the Cougars still can earn a No. 1 seed with a win Saturday over Wyoming.
But if they have to face San Diego State again? Or in the NCAAs, where depth often is key?
ěItís still a week or two away, all the postseason stuff,î small forward Charles Abouo said.
Still, coach Dave Rose admitted the team has to regroup following the shocking turnaround since the win over San Diego State and rise to No. 3 in the land.
The body language on display Wednesday night indicated it may take some time.
Senior guard Jackson Emery could be seen kicking a chair, and Fredette spent the final few minutes at the end of the bench with his chin buried in his chest.
ěItís been difficult,î said Fredette, one of the team captains that Rose broke the news to first on Monday when school officials were made aware of Daviesí situation. ě(Davies was like a brother to us, family. Itís tough to lose a guy like that and pull together. I think weíll be all right.î
Before the shocker lit up talk show lines, twitter accounts and fueled a national debate about BYUís code of honor, BYU was drawing comparisons to NCAA tournament darling Davidson, which made an NCAA tournament run three years ago by working its offense around star point guard Stephen Curry.
But how far can a team go with no power in the paint?
ěIt was definitely noticeable,î Lobos forward Drew Gooden said of BYUís lack of muscle inside. Gooden had a game-high 16 boards, 13 on the defensive end.
ěIt definitely hurt them that Davies wasnít there, but you have to work with what youíre given.î
BYU started 6-10 junior James Anderson in Daviesí place but Rose quickly went to Plan B, then Plan C and so on.
Not much seemed to work as BYUís inside game disappeared. The Cougars made 8 of 30 shots in the first half and were outrebounded 25-14 as the Lobos took a 42-26 lead.
ěWe found a lineup that we were really comfortable playing, a lineup we started the (previous) 20 games,î Rose said. ěNow we need to find the next comfortable lineup.î
Falling behind so quickly then tossing up so many perimeter shots didnít help, even with Fredette shooting.
He often tried to do too much, forcing shots before exiting the game having made 10 of 26 overall and 1 of 9 from 3-point range.
ěWe were trying to score five, six, seven points in one possession,î Rose said. ěWe never got into a rhythm.î
Abouo insisted there was no resentment toward Davies, who apologized to his teammates.
ěI donít know why we would have resentment toward him,î Abouo said. ěWe love him… everyone makes mistakes. He didnít let anyone down.î
Rose also said Davies did the right thing by acknowledging his transgressions to university officials.
But the coach stood by the schoolís honor code.
ěEverybody who comes to BYU, every student if theyíre an athlete or not an athlete, they make a commitment when they come,î Rose said of a code that also forbids use of alcohol and coffee and requires students to be honest and attend church regularly. ěA lot of people try to judge if this is right or wrong, but itís a commitment they make. Itís not about right or wrong. Itís about commitment.î
As of Thursday morning, there was still no word whether BYU staffers would edit changes to a pre-game video tribute that still shows Davies patrolling the paint.
At least that would be a simple fix.
The Associated Press