There is some uncertainty entering the 2017-18 BYU basketball season. In addition to Eric Mika’s departure from the program and Nick Emery’s sudden withdrawal, there are new faces that have contributed well in exhibition games. Here are my keys to making this mix of transfers, freshman, veterans, and returned missionaries work:
T.J. Haws has to focus on distributing and driving. Haws is a good 3-point shooter, but he is at his best when he drives to the hoop and looks to distribute. The Cougar offense would be well served if he and Yoeli Childs can perfect the pick-and-roll and outside shooters can benefit from Haws’s ability to drive-and-dish.
Zac Seljaas has to be lights out from 3. The lengthy wing man is back early from a mission, and his specialty is 3-point shooting. He shot 50% from beyond the arch during his freshman campaign, and that will need to continue so that Haws, Emery, and Bryant don’t feel pressure to shoot a lot from the perimeter. If Seljaas can improve his defense, that would be gravy.
Yoeli Childs has to be a force on both sides of the court. Eric Mika was the focal point of the team last year, and his departure leaves a huge void. Childs has looked impressive in exhibition games so far, but it’s yet to be seen how he will handle being the #1 option against D1 competition.
Elijah Bryant has to be consistent. Injuries has plagued Bryant’s BYU career, but we have seen glimmers of greatness from the versatile guard. The Cougars need him to stay healthy and play at the level everyone has expected of him since he transferred to the Y. With the recent news that Emery will not be back, Bryant’s production will be crucial.
The offense has to be more balanced. Mika was great least year, but Rose’s offense relied on him far too much. The big man took almost 100 more shots than any other player, and shot more than Childs and Bryant combined. Rose can’t make that mistake again and expect the offense to go through Childs every single time down the court. Not only would it put too much pressure on Childs, but it would waste a lot of talent in the Cougar backcourt.
Some semblance of defense has to emerge. I won’t hold my breath, but if BYU is every going to compete for a WCC championship, they need to learn how guard someone.