By: Russell Cragun
The BYU Cougars have won four in a row after beating San Francisco Thursday night; this comes after the Cougars dropped four in a row against Oregon, Utah, LMU and Pepperdine. Over the past four games the Cougars have scored over 80 points in each win and have won some games without Forward Eric Mika, and Tyler Haws and company have been getting hot just in time for a tough WCC schedule that will feature ranked Gonzaga twice and St. Mary’s.
So what have the Cougars been doing differently lately to win? How have they managed to win without their dominant center Mika? Here are some reasons why the Cougars have made a quick rebound to try to save the season.
Matt Carlino Is More Efficient Off The Bench Than A Starter.
During BYU’s losing streak we saw some of the worst playing from Matt Carlino as a Cougar. His play was erratic and ill-advised. He turned it over and never really passed around the ball to his teammates. We have often seen him take on the “hero” role and take on all the responsibility and try to win the game.
While Carlino struggled Skyler Halford rose up and helped the team get those much needed points. Halford at times seemed like the only player who seemed capable of scoring any points and kept a lot of the games in reach. He shot almost 60% from the field and 83% from the free throw while only turning it over twice in those four games. Because of this Halford has since taken the starting role from Carlino and saw a season high 31 minutes against San Francisco.
This has really given Carlino some time to think and calm down as a player. He has relished in as the sixth man. During the Cougars four game winning streak his shot percentage alone has almost double than that of their four game losing streak: He has shot 14-29 (48%) from the field compared to 13-52 (25%) during the previous losing streak, and his turnovers have decreased by 25%.
Something that people overlook is his ball handling skills, yes he does turn it over more than we would like to see but he is great in advancing the ball down the court in press situations. Something that the team would need late in the game when everyone else is in foul trouble.
It’s uncertain if Carlino will remain on the bench and keep this role. Don’t be surprised if we see him take his old job back soon and be in the starting 5.
Improved Free Throw Shooting and Three Point Shooting
Before the winning streak BYU was struggling at shooting free throws. They were going to the line on average 29.9 times a game; however, they would only convert 67% of the time. This is a horrible statistic when considering most of the team is a guard. Over the last four games, BYU has really improved their free throw percentage from 67% to 75%, and have found more opportunities to draw the fouls averaging 32.5 trips to the stripe.
When BYU lost to LMU and Pepperdine their three-point shooting was atrocious. They only made 4-21(19%) attempts. Since the start of the new streak BYU has improved and gone from that embarrassing 19% to a respectful 42% going 23-55.
Coach Rose claims that this has been the teams biggest improvement stating: “I mean, (the WCC is) the best three-point shooting league in the country, and you really have to respect that. I think our coaches have done a great job of adjusting to it, and hopefully we just keep getting better at it.” (KSL)
Because the team is improving their free throw and three-point shooting the team now leads the WCC in efficiency at 117.2.
Kyle Collinsworth is the Cougars Unsung Hero
You can sit anywhere in the Marriott Center and hear people say “Come on Haws” or scream at Coach Rose to give the ball more to Mika. Most people forgot and often overlook the teams staple and hero of the team. It’s not Haws, Mika or Carlino, Its Kyle Collinsworth. KC is third in scoring on the team behind Haws and Carlino, second in total rebounds, steals and blocks. He has always proven to be dependable and seems to never come out of the game, leading the team in total minutes by 75 minutes; more than two full games ahead of Haws at number two.
The Cougars have improved their game and efficiently over the past four games. Look for the Cougars to win five in a row against Santa Clara who is 10-10 on the season. You will be able to watch the game on ROOT Sports.
Hopefully we will see some more sweet dunks like this from Tyler Haws!