On Tuesday night, BYU announced that Sophomore Forward Brandon Davies had been dismissed from the team, as a result of a violation of the school's honor code. What followed has been perhaps the biggest overreaction to any sports news I have ever seen. If that seems like hyperbole, forgive me, I've been reading hyperbole all day long.
Brandon Davies is a great athlete. He made great contributions to this BYU team. However, he is not the reason for their success and he alone cannot bring about their destruction. Let us take a systematic look at the entire situation.
Davies, at 6'9, was BYU's traditional "post" player. He was the big man tasked with keeping the lane open, grabbing rebounds and providing a scoring threat underneath when Jimmer Fredette was double or even triple teamed.
At times, Davies has been brilliant, and at others, he has been absent offensively. By the numbers, Davies has contributed 11 PPG, and 6.2 RPG. There are those who will say that Davies absence will only limit Fredette more because opposing defenses will be able to spend all their time focused on the Player of the Year Candidate. However, BYU still has their second leading scorer in Jackson Emery, and with the way Charles Abouo and Stephen Rogers have been playing, BYU is not lacking in capable offensive play makers.
Defensively, Brandon Davies' job was to shut down the lane and to keep prolific big men like Kawhi Leonard, Malcolm Thomas, Andy Ogide and Travis Franklin from running the game from the inside. He proved to be athletic and effective in the defensive low post. However, he was not doing it alone. His front court mate Noah Hartsock trailed him in rebounds by only .2 per game.
Only inch shorter and five pounds lighter, Hartsock was the more effective shot blocker and is a better free throw shooter by a significant margin. Will Hartsock have to do more and step up to help his team? Absolutely. Was Brandon Davies the alpha and omega of BYU' success this season? Absolutely not.
Coach Dave Rose will find a way to navigate his team through this. These kinds of set backs can be inspiring for a team and I believe that tonight in the Marriott Center, you will see a refocused, driven group of Cougars.
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