The BYU Cougars will have to play the remainder of the season without one of their stars, Brandon Davies, for the rest of the season, including the NCAA Tournament.
Whenever the 2011 BYU Cougars basketball team is brought up, there has to be a 2007-2008 Davidson Wildcats comparison.
Jimmer Fredette plays the role of Stephen Curry, Brandon Davies is the Andrew Lovedale of the team and Noah Hartsock assumes the role of Thomas Sander.
On any championship contender in the NCAA, there need to be several things.
A guy that can score at will, which the team has in Jimmer Fredette. Another important aspect is a guard that will not fold under pressure when the game gets tough. Again, this role is filled by Fredette, who has the ball in his hands during crunch time.
Another important aspect is good defensive players that contest every shot. Only the best players can create shots for themselves. Team defense is underrated in college basketball across the board.
Finally, you need a guy that is going to grab the rebound and play tough inside. BYU had this with Davies, and his absence is going to be felt immediately in this regard.
The BYU Cougars are now missing one of the key components to a championship team. No longer do they have the inside presence and the guy that can clean up the boards. Of Davies' 180 rebounds this season, 63 have been on the offensive end; that number is staggering.
Of the remaining big men on the team that follow Davies in the rebounding, none of them have the scoring pedigree that Davies has.
Getting back to that Davidson team—what made them great was their ability to work the offense around Curry, while also having inside presence for offensive rebounds and put backs.
This Cougar team loses a lot of muscle inside and a lot of their nastiness.
So where does this put them amongst the NCAA elite? In their game against SDSU, Charles Abouo put up 18 points and nine rebounds, while Davies only had four points and six rebounds. But this does not tell the whole story.
Compared to the NBA, where coaches have benches that stretch to the 10th man, college hoops usually stays within the 7-9 player range per team. The loss of Davies is five useful fouls and a competitive player that has greatly improved from last year.
The best comparison out there is the loss of Arinze Onuaku from Syracuse’s lineup last NCAA Tournament. The team was still good, but missing that big body underneath during crunch time was key.
BYU is one of the country’s best teams but still is looking at an uphill battle to climb without one of its toughest guys.