BYU basketball: Cougars begin life without Jimmer Fredette
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
PROVO — There's no one wearing the No. 32 on BYU's roster this coming season.
With that there likely won't be anyone on the roster who will be leading the nation in scoring or named national player of the year while capturing the attention of the nation.
Jimmer Fredette is gone and the incredible task of replacing him is already in motion. Or is it?
"I don't think you can replace a guy like Jimmer Fredette," said guard Matt Carlino. "I don't think any of us are thinking that we can do exactly what he did, and we're not trying to. We all have our own strengths as players, and we're just trying to do what we can do the best that we can."
Carlino is certainly one of the top candidates to replace Jimmer at the point guard position. Having transferred to BYU from UCLA back in January, he'll have to sit out until BYU's game against Baylor on Dec. 17 due to transfer rules.
When he decided to transfer to BYU, he liked the idea of replacing the Cougars' star. For right now though, he's focusing on the team and what he can do.
"I can do some things that Jimmer did," said the 6-foot-2 guard. "I can shoot the ball well from three, and I feel like I can run the offense well, get guys in good position to score and all that, but no, I'm not Jimmer and I'm not going to try to be him."
Other candidates to start at point guard include 6-foot junior Nick Martineau, 6-foot-3 freshman Anson Winder and somewhat surprisingly 6-foot-6 junior Brock Zylstra. Zylstra played at the point a lot during the team's summer trip to Greece and fared very well in doing it.
"We've been able to see quite a bit with our summer practices," said head coach Dave Rose. "We're excited with the group we have. Everybody wishes that Matt (Carlino) was available from Day 1, but he'll be available in December, so it will be interesting to see how the first 12 games go (without him)."
A starting point guard has yet to be named, but Rose is confident that there are between three and four players on the current roster who could fit the bill.
It's not just Jimmer that needs to be replaced, however. Jackson Emery, the school's all-time leader in steals, has left a huge void as well.
Rose said he is confident that there are players in the program that can bring a lot of the same defensive tenacity that his starting 2-guard did a year ago — starting with 6-foot-5 senior Charles Abouo.
"I really like Charles' ability to defend," Rose said. "He can defend on the perimeter, I think he's a guy that is physical enough that he can guard that 6-foot-6 slasher guy that has been real difficult for us. I think Anson Winder has the ability to do that and Damarcus (Harrison) is a guy who has a lot of size and a lot of length, and as he learns our system, he's a guy that could be a great defender."
In looking how to replace the stellar starting backcourt from a year ago, it might not be wise to look at the existing backcourt.
The position group returning with the most experience is the four and the five spots.
Foremost among these players is 6-foot-9 Brandon Davies, who will be rejoining the team after serving out his suspension late last season. He'll be joined by veteran 6-foot-8 senior Noah Hartsock and by 6-foot-9 sophomore Chris Collinsworth.
"I believe that early in the season that we'll rely on our frontline," said Rose. "Our backcourt — I think we have a lot of really talented players here, and they'll be really inexperienced early. So we'll be relying on our frontcourt — especially early in the year."
It's a mantle that the frontcourt players are more than willing to take on.
"The strength this year will be inside where last year it was outside," said Hartsock. "We'll still be pushing it up and down the court, but most of our presence will be close to the basket, I feel. I couldn't be more excited to have not just Brandon Davies back, but Chris Collinsworth as well back from injury. They're really going to help upfront."
The changes on this year's team don't just include the personnel. It will be their first year competing in the West Coast Conference, but even so, the goals remain relatively the same.
"We expect to win the league," said Rose. "That's why we practice, that's why we recruit and why we do what we do is to win championships, get our team in the NCAA tournament and advance as far as we can."
email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @BrandonCGurney
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