Dick Harmon: News of Brandon Davies' dismissal comes at dramatic time for Cougars
And it has been a dandy of a season.
The shocking news couldn't have come at a more dramatic time for Dave Rose and his basketball program. It came one day after the Cougars attained a lofty No. 3 national ranking and the week BYU could win the Mountain West Conference title outright. It comes just when the national media declared the Cougars are in the hunt for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament — the Davies news landed like a bomb.
Tonight, when the Cougars host the only league team that has defeated them, New Mexico, we will see how Rose, his staff and the team respond, both emotionally and strategically.
Make no mistake about it; the loss of Davies is a huge blow. His skill set, the tremendous impact he's had this late in the season in rebounding, blocks and scoring points will be missed.
The quickness to which BYU officials reacted to its investigation of Davies and his issue with the school's honor code means this wasn't a trivial issue. It wasn't probation; it was not an item that could be put off for a few weeks; it was a violation that required decisive and immediate action.
Davies is a good person. I wish Davies well as he tackles this issue. Everyone makes mistakes and they should be able to work out their challenges and grow from the experience with support from family, friends and the university community. He was adopted by a single mother as an infant, and his story so far has been inspiring.
Subtract Davies from BYU's roster and you poke the Cougars in a soft spot that was already suspect. He has been BYU's most-polished post player. But he was a post player on a team that is geared for shooting 3-pointers and running fast breaks. The fast breaks work a whole lot better when you have a guy like Davies pulling down rebounds.
When Davies has been in foul trouble and sat on the bench, which is often, Rose has reacted by deploying a unique committee.
That committee consists of 6-8 junior Noah Hartsock, 6-10 junior James Anderson and 6-6 Logan Magnusson. Now, athletic 6-6 junior Charles Abouo, fresh off three outstanding career-type games, may also be part of the mix.
While Davies' great offensive skill set will be missed, the biggest impact on the floor might be on the other end where Davies got in foul trouble a lot defending the post. BYU needs post defenders. It will also impact rebounding, a talent Davies excelled at.
It will have an immediate domino effect on the roster. If Hartsock starts as center, 6-8 forward Stephen Rogers will replace him. If Abouo is used in the post, especially for rebounding, the former small forward starter Kyle Collinsworth will have to step up.
BYU's post committee will be smaller in statue. And it will have to be good.
On the other hand, Davies was a foul machine. He has committed 90 personal fouls this season, 12 more than Jackson Emery, who might be the best defensive player in the MWC. It has been a liability.
Of the starters who have started all season long, Davies has averaged the fewest minutes due to fouls, just 24.9 minutes a game. He has spent a lot of time sweating out two fouls in the first halves of many a game on the bench. In short, he struggles to stay on the court.
Rose and his staff have shown a penchant for making adjustments and inspiring players to step up when called upon. They have had to do this all season when Davies got in foul trouble.
Adjusting bodies is what Rose does best.
This happened with freshman Kyle Collinsworth, when they asked him to start right out of the chute, and again when he was sidelined last month with a concussion and an able Abouo replaced him.
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