Commentary: Tyler Haws headlines solid BYU backcourt
As the curtain rises on the 2013-14 college basketball season, BYU has to feel good about its backcourt. Tyler Haws is back again, and if last season was any indication, the reigning leading scorer in the West Coast Conference is ready to lead his team to better things than a NIT appearance.
Ah, but is Haws the next Jimmer Fredette?
The stats tell an interesting story. As a sophomore, Fredette averaged 16.2 points while shooting 48.0 percent from the field and 38.2 percent from beyond the arc. Last season, Haws averaged 21.7 points per game and shot 48.3 percent from the field and 38.1 on 3-pointers.
So going by the stats alone, Haws is ahead of where Fredette was when he was a sophomore.
Now, it's not yet clear if Haws can become the national player of the year like Fredette was his senior year. That said, Haws has put on some Jimmer-like performances, such as his 42-point game against Virginia Tech.
There's little wonder Haws why is receiving national attention, particularly as Fredette's memory is still fresh in everybody's minds. ESPN's Eamonn Brennan did a piece on Haws' solid sophomore season. Haws also received the honor of playing for Team USA at the World University Games in Russia over the summer.
Even if Haws doesn't start averaging 28.9 points per game like Fredette did his senior season, just maintaining that 21.7 average will be huge for the Cougars against a tough slate. In other words, Haws doesn't have to be Fredette for BYU to achieve its goals of winning the WCC and returning to the NCAA tournament.
After all, Haws has solid teammates in the backcourt who can also light up the scoreboard. While BYU can count on Haws to put up big numbers consistently, BYU needs other players to step up and contribute. The Cougars can't be a one-trick pony and expect to return to the big dance this season.
That's why the key player in the backcourt for BYU's success is point guard Matt Carlino.
Carlino has shown that he can have big nights. He scored 20 or more points in five games last season. However, Carlino has also struggled in key games. He scored zero points in 16 minutes on 0-for-9 shooting vs. Florida State, two points in 30 minutes against Notre Dame and two points in 35 minutes at Saint Mary's.
The UCLA transfer has proved he has explosive talent, but he needs to add consistency to his game. If he can do that, opposing teams won't be able to double or triple team Haws when Carlino is having a bad game.
But Carlino isn't Haws' only help in the backcourt as Kyle Collinsworth returns from his LDS mission.
Will Collinsworth make the immediate impact that Haws did after his mission? Probably not. Haws' astonishing sophomore season is rare, after all. But opposing teams would do well to take notice of Collinsworth this season.
He's hard to miss at 6-foot-6 as a guard. While he only averaged 5.8 points per game as a freshman, remember that this was at the height of Jimmer-mania, and Jackson Emery was also filling up the stats sheet. He averaged only 25.7 minutes per game. While he's not a huge threat from three, he did shoot 48.1 percent from the field before leaving on his mission.
BYU doesn't need Collinsworth to be a star, but it does need him to contribute right away. That's particularly true as the Cougars travel to Stanford and face other quality teams like Iowa State, Texas and in-state rival Utah State all in the month of November.
With a star guard like Haws, if both Carlino and Collinsworth can step up their game, BYU will be unstoppable.
One area of concern in the backcourt, however, is depth. BYU has some newcomers in freshman Frank Bartley IV, SLCC transfer Skyler Halford and Wake Forest transfer Chase Fischer, who is sitting out this season due to transfer rules. Anson Winder has some experience coming off the bench and contributing steals. Unless someone steps up, BYU doesn't have an explosive sixth man at guard who can come in and shake up a game.
That said, the team of Haws, Carlino and Collinsworth will make opposing teams' heads spin as they form a solid backcourt this upcoming season.
Lafe Peavler is a sportswriter intern at the Deseret News.
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