Noah Hartsock is the quiet leader of a young BYU team.
BYU basketball had arguably their best season in history last year. But, the spectacle that was Jimmer Fredette graduated with their best defensive player, Jackson Emery. No one really knew what to expect this year.
Noah Hartsock was coming back, and Brandon Davies was planning to come back. Though, some still doubted whether that would happen or not. Other than that, there were a bunch of question marks.
The early season did not answer many questions. The team had varied success with a handful of lineups as almost everyone on the team had at least one great game. Still, their record was very streaky.
The lineup found some semblance of consistency when Matt Carlino became eligible. However, his play has been, simply put, the play of a freshman. He continues to improve, but the team is still finding its identity with a more traditional point guard.
Throughout the season, this team has shown an ability to compete with some great teams in St. Mary's, Baylor and Wisconsin. Obviously, all three of those games were losses, but the inability to finish is not uncommon for young teams.
Recently, the team seems to be gelling, as everyone has settled into their roles. Balance will be the key to success if BYU is to make the NCAA tourney and have any chance of winning a game.
They have had great three-point shooting games, amazing inside scoring games and a few that have had balance. That balance started to appear in recent weeks, with the pinnacle being the complete domination of Pepperdine last week.
As UConn showed last year, getting hot at the right time is what college basketball is all about. I am not saying that BYU has a chance of winning a national championship. I am simply saying that if BYU continues to improve, they have a legitimate shot of winning some games in the WCC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.
Right now, they are on the safer side of the bubble. Winning on the road, including at Gonzaga, would all but secure them a bid to the tourney. Losing to anyone but Gonzaga will put their bid seriously in doubt.
Of course, the simplest way is to win the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas, a place where BYU has played very well. Though, there are no guarantees for anyone when it is one and done.