BYU Basketball: 4 Things We Learned from Cougars' NIT Run
Despite a crushing loss to Baylor, a game that seemed very winnable throughout the first and most of the second half, BYU's basketball season ended on a fairly good note. The Cougars put together a deep run in the NIT that didn't seem likely two weeks ago, playing like we've never seen them play this year.
There are always lessons to be learned from a good finish (or a bad one, for that matter). So, what can we learn from this NIT run? Here are four things.
Brock Zylstra Is a Better Player Than He Gets Credit For
Ever since coming to BYU from Bonita High School in La Verne, California, Brock Zylstra has been underrated, overlooked, criticized and reprimanded. Many people have wondered why Dave Rose has kept the 6'6" small forward in his starting lineup.
In the NIT, the answer to that question was obvious.
Zylstra torched Mercer and Southern Miss with a never-before-seen display of scoring from all over the court, compiling a 59 three-point shooting percentage and 37 points. He showed us all that he's a better player than he is labeled, and BYU will be a different team next year without Zylstra's leadership and playing prowess.
Despite His Inconsistency, Matt Carlino Is Clutch
Matt Carlino is still not a point guard that BYU is able to hand a game over to, but he can be clutch.
Carlino drained three straight threes (in a trio of possessions) to keep the Cougars in the game against Baylor, and is a big reason they had a shot at winning in the final two minutes.
If only he could do that every game.
"(The NIT) Isn't as Bad as People Think"
When Selection Sunday rolled around a few weeks ago, I dreaded the thought of watching BYU play in the NIT. I thought that there wasn't much to be proud of if you win, and losing early in it is much more embarrassing.
Well, I was wrong.
The NIT turned out to be a great experience for the Cougars, as they were able to play good competition and end the season on a high note. I would definitely had been pleased with a berth in the Final Four tournament, but in the words of Pierre Jackson, "This tournament isn't as bad as people think." (via New York Post)
The Future Looks Bright for the Cougars
As far as the future of BYU basketball is concerned, there is something it can learn from the NIT: the next few years of Cougar basketball look very bright.
Nate Austin was a different player during the tournament, and could help to replace Brandon Davies if he continues to develop. Pair him with incoming frosh Eric Mika and future junior Josh Sharp, and the frontcourt looks solid.
The guard line doesn't look bad either. Carlino will return, and if his game becomes a bit more steady, he looks pretty promising. Tyler Haws is an elite scorer from anywhere on the court, and returning missionary Kyle Collinsworth is another solid piece. Don't count out Anson Winder on the defensive end either.
We have a lot to look forward to, and the future definitely looks bright.