At this time last year, BYU fans were wondering what would happen now that Jimmermania had ended. After an eventful season that saw the Cougars reach the Sweet Sixteen and take Florida to Overtime, many were doubtful that a Jimmerless BYU team could return just one year later. A rebuilding season was in store.
Enter Matt Carlino and a revamped Cougar squad. Carlino’s first start against Baylor was promising and brought glimpses of what was possible with him at the wheel. A rebuilding year quickly turned into a hopeful sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. When all was said and done, the Jimmerless Cougars made it back to the dance just one year later.
One Year Down the Road
Next season may be one of the most anticipated seasons in recent BYU basketball history. Sure, the offseason of Jimmer’s senior year was the most anticipated time, but with the return of Tyler Haws and a more experienced group of Cougars, we might find ourselves one year from now on the tail end of another tournament run that could send BYU back to the Sweet Sixteen.
Looking ahead to next season, most BYU fans will not expect a rebuilding year. Yes, the loss of Noah Hartsock and Charles Abouo will be difficult to overcome, but Coach Dave Rose has shown he is capable of putting the right team on the floor to win games. If you need an example, watch the comeback against Iona. Nobody expected Brock Zylstra, DeMarcus Harrison, and Craig Cusick to be on the floor during the greatest comeback in NCAA Tournament history.
Hartsock’s shoes will be the biggest to fill, but with the maturation of an already talented Nate Austin who has just as much range as Hartsock, the 4/5 position is in pretty good shape.
Abouo’s defensive prowess will be missed, but what Charles lacked on offense will be made up with the return of Tyler Haws. One of BYU’s Achilles heels was guard play, especially around the perimeter. After Jimmer went, well, Jimmer on opposing defenses it was almost unbearable to watch the Cougar guards shoot fifteen percent from three on any given night. Haws shot almost 37% from distance, not to mention his 91.7% from the charity stripe, another area where the Cougars struggled last season. So while Abouo’s loss may sting a bit on the defensive end, Haws will likely bring some life back into the Cougars’ offensive.
Older and Wiser
Of the five active freshmen from this last season, four return for next year: Carlino, Austin, Anson Winder and Josh Sharp. Demarcus Harrison will be on a mission.
While all four players will benefit from another offseason under their belt, all eyes will be on Carlino and how he progresses. Expectations will be the highest for the sophomore guard who showed flashes of brilliance, but struggled to shoot the ball at times.
Carlino’s strength will be his ability to pass the ball. He will likely average around fifteen points per game next year, but with his court vision and awareness, expect Carlino to pick up around seven or eight assists.
What To Expect
A second Sweet Sixteen in three years is not too farfetched. With an offseason to improve and an incoming player like Tyler Haws, the Cougars are likely to find themselves in the drivers seat once again and in position to make a decent run in the NCAA Tournament for the seventh consecutive season.