Sometime just after the start of the New Year, Dave Rose met privately with the rest of the BYU coaching staff to re-evaluate and discuss the team’s current position and devise a strategy to lift the Cougars to the top of the Mountain West Conference.
Several ideas were bounced around: potential wrinkles to add to the offense, unique personal groupings to try, nothing groundbreaking.
Rose sat somewhat aloof, uncharacteristically passive in such a meeting. He furrowed his brow in deep concentration.
An internal debate raged.
With little warning, the head coach rose and took a few careful steps toward the front of the room. Immediately, the group fell silent.
“I’ve come to a conclusion. I know what we need to do."
Rose’s words were more of a command than a statement. After a dramatic exhale, BYU Head Coach Dave Rose turned and purposefully scribbled three large words on the wall-mounted white board beside several complex play diagrams.
“Unleash the Jimmer.”
Okay, so the above anecdote is probably fictional.
There may or may not have been a strategic meeting. There may or may not have been a calculated move executed to hand free reign to Jimmer Fredette.
However, just after January 1, 2011, a switch was flipped. I don’t know if Rose gave the go ahead, if Jimmer decided to take matters into his own hands or if it just happened.
Jimmer was unleashed and has left been leaving a wake of desolation ever since.
In 2010, Fredette was hardly a secret weapon. The Cougars were 14-1 on New Year’s Day. Fredette was among the nation’s leading scorers and avid hoops fans knew him to be one of the most exciting and prolific shot makers in the game.
He acted as BYU’s unquestioned leader on the court, took an extremely high percentage of the team’s shots and had earned the respect of all of his opponents.
It is all the more mind-boggling then that Jimmer, just in time for conference play, raised his game to a whole new level.
His already sky high usage rate increased; his productivity skyrocketed; he started shooting even more, scoring even more and the Cougars have been winning more.
A comparison of Jimmer stats in 15 non conference games and six conference games is telling.
Out of conference, Fredette took 24 or more shots in a single game two times. He took nine or more threes three times.
How far can Jimmer carry the Cougars?
In six conference games, he has taken 24 or more shots four times and nine or more threes three times.
Out of conference, Fredette had at least three assists in every game but three.
In six conference games, he has already had two games with two assists or less, included his first zero assist game of the year.
He never eclipsed five made three point field goals in a non conference game. He has hit six or more in two games since conference play begin.
The non conference numbers are impressive: 24.1 points, 4.4 assists per contest.
The in conference numbers are jaw-dropping: 35.7 points, 3.7 assists per contest.
Someone involved with BYU seems to have realized that the Cougars are at their best when Jimmer looks to shoot first, second and third. He is chucking up jumpers at a pop-a-shot rate, passing less, putting the burden to score even more squarely on his shoulders.
As a result, Fredette has become the biggest story in college basketball and the current favorite for National Player of the Year.
The Jimmer has been unleashed. The only question is how long he can keep producing at such mind-numbing rate.
If Fredette keeps it rolling, BYU may be able to ride the wave all the way to Houston.