In a matchup of top 10 RPI teams, BYU, ranked ninth, put up little resistance on the road against No. 1 Massachusetts Saturday afternoon. The Cougars never got closer than seven points the final 15 minutes and trailed by double-digits for a majority of the second half before ultimately losing, 105-96.
Christmas appeared to have come early for the Minutemen in the form of the BYU defense.
The Cougars were like a blue-clad Santa Claus that just kept giving UMass whatever it wanted. Chaz Williams, who had 32 points and 15 assists, and his teammates were happy to take advantage. Sometimes 'tis better to receive than give it turns out.
There’s no question BYU is a good offensive team, but too much of the time it seems the Cougars are so concerned with playing fast transition offense that they lose track of everything else — like playing defense.
Here are the grades for each BYU position group and other aspects of the game.
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How do you quantify really soft and really bad defense? Steals are not necessarily a great indicator, but Tyler Haws, Kyle Collinsworth and Matt Carlino did not have a single one between them.
Haws shot the ball extremely well in the first half, largely keeping the Cougars within striking distance, but again he had little impact in other areas of the game. Haws finished with 25 points on just 16 shots, three rebounds, two turnovers, four fouls and just one assist. Haws is averaging about 1.5 assists per game.
Collinsworth struggled mightily in turning the ball over five times and hurting BYU on several other possessions with poor shot selection.
Carlino had a nice stretch to start the second half and finished with an impressive stat line of 23 points on 18 shots, six assists and just one turnover. His impact on the game did not quite match the stat line, however.
BYU coach Dave Rose has apparently decided Anson Winder is now the third guard off the bench. Skyler Halford got more than double Winder’s minutes and Frank Bartley IV had four times Winders' minutes.
How do you quantify really soft and really bad defense? Blocked shots are not necessarily a great indicator, but BYU’s big men did not have a single one in the game.
Eric Mika had a pretty solid offensive game with 18 points on 11 shots while knocking down 6-of-7 free throws. He led the team in rebounds with eight. Like the team as a whole, however, Mika was not anywhere near effective on defense. This seemed to be, at least in part, due to foul trouble with Mika picking up four fouls, limiting his playing time and aggressiveness.
Nate Austin fouled out and played only 19 minutes due to quick foul trouble. He did not attempt a shot or a free throw and had just five rebounds.
Luke Worthington played seven minutes and did not record a single statistic other than two fouls and one turnover.
Of course, Rose knows his team better than anyone else.
To the outside observer, however, it certainly seems clear that the zone defense is not working. The defensive performance was one of the worst of Rose’s tenure. Could a man-to-man have really done any worse? At least a man-to-man defense allows a coach to hold individual players more responsible for his defense and gives a player an opportunity to play with more toughness and passion.
If BYU's man-to-man defense would have truly been worse than the generous 105 points it gave up to UMass Saturday — so much so that the Cougs did not even attempt to play it — then it seems like an admission that the team is severely limited in some ways.
That is not a good sign for the rest of this season or next season.
Before the season Rose talked about having the athletes to deploy a man-to-man defense. If there was not some advantage to this, why would Rose bring it up?
Make no mistake, BYU’s bad defense had quite a bit to do with the UMass offense. The Minutemen are undefeated and ranked No. 21 for a reason.
At the point, Williams was unreal in scoring 32 points on just 14 shot attempts, while dishing out 15 assists with only one turnover.
As a team BYU had 15 assists and 11 turnovers.
By no means was Williams the only Minuteman who impressed, however. They had five other players in double figures and had an incredibly well-balanced offensive attack. They had 29 assists as a team.
UMass did not exactly overwhelm the Cougars on defense, but again, quite a bit of BYU’s statistical damage came after the game was virtually over.
UMass is legit.
UMass had a good, passionate crowd. Fans were getting on the Cougars and the officials hard when they didn’t agree with something.
Technically, this was a neutral site game play at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass. It was the equivalent of a UMass home game by location and turnout. UMass is located in Amherst, Mass.