BYU Basketball: 5 Keys to Peaking in WCC Tournament
BYU has finished the long regular-season road, with good wins and bad losses and a 21-10 mark. Despite a frustrating finish, with a 3-4 record in the last seven games, it's time to put that in the rearview mirror and look forward to the postseason.
The WCC tournament fires up this weekend in Vegas, and the Cougs will have a first-round bye and then play in the second round, and possibly the semis and the final.
So, what will BYU need to do to peak in the conference tournament? Here are five keys to doing so.
Play Smart in the Early Stages of Games
Foul trouble has plagued the Cougars all season, but it has really hurt Brandon Davies in these last few weeks. Davies has picked up two whistles in the first four minutes of BYU's last two games and has come close to fouling out in several contests.
Davies is by far the best the Cougs have to offer in the post, and he can't continue to limit his playing time. He is needed on the court and will need to stay out of foul trouble.
Hold onto Big Leads
Six times this season, against Baylor, Notre Dame, San Fransisco, San Diego and twice against Saint Mary's, BYU has held a seven-point lead or larger and gone on to lose the game.
In two other matchups, against LMU and Utah State, the Cougs relinquished a double-digit lead and ended up winning by three or less.
BYU has shown an unnatural talent at making awful decisions just because it has a lead in the game, and then it comes back to haunt the team. The Cougars can't let off the gas no matter the score, and they need to keep pushing the tempo.
Get More Big Shots from Craig Cusick, Brock Zylstra
Craig Cusick and Brock Zylstra are the most clutch players on BYU's roster
But somehow, they can't find a way to score until there is less than five minutes left in the game.
Cusick sunk Utah State with a tip-in at the buzzer, and he delivered a dagger three to tie the scoreboard late in the Gonzaga game. Zylstra brought BYU a ray of hope with a clutch trey at Saint Mary's, and he dropped a pair of threes against Gonzaga.
If the two players can step up their game in the first 35 minutes of each contest, while continuing their great work at the end of games, the Cougs will benefit greatly.
Beat Opponents in Transition
BYU doesn't have the size to compete with Gonzaga or even Saint Mary's at times, and so the only way it can beat times like those is in transition.
We've always heard, "If you can't outplay someone, outrun them." The Cougars have done this all year, and they will need to continue to do so. If they can play the up-tempo style that Dave Rose loves, BYU could be standing for longer than expected in the postseason.
Get a Big Fan Showing in Las Vegas
If you missed the Gonzaga-BYU game last week, you missed out—big time.
The Marriott Center was as loud as it's been since the Jimmer Fredette era, and just as crowded. BYU fans made their presence known, whether it be loud cheers after baskets or boos after bad calls.
If the fan atmosphere wasn't as good as it was, I doubt the Cougs would've had a chance at a close game.
There is no way that 20,900 raucous BYU fans will show up in Las Vegas, but it would sure help to have a good fan showing on the road.