In some ways, the basketball season is still just getting started, but I’m excited about the potential of BYU’s bench. The following three Cougars are my early-season nominees for sixth man of the year.
Craig Cusick- At 6’2” and 185 lbs, he’s pretty close to the same body type as Jimmer (he just needs about 10 more pounds of solid muscle). I was pretty skeptical about Cusick at the beginning of the season and wondered why in the world Rose has started him for a few games, but now he’s growing on me. He’s a decent free throw shooter and can hit shots from the field with decent consistency, but I cringe almost every time he goes up for a three. He’s only made 5 treys all season. Not your shot, man. Whether he comes into his full potential this season is debatable, but if he does, he could do some real damage. I think his fairly good performance at Utah a few days ago could be the start of something great.
Nate Austin- Another guy who’s really growing on me. I can’t quite figure out why, but he reminds me of Jonathan Tavernari. JT is one of my favorite BYU sixth men of all time. He was in my ward during his senior year, right before he got married. I only talked to him a couple times, but he was a really nice guy, even to the little people (like me). My favorite memory of him was when he gave a talk in church and told a story about talking to a friend who was having a hard time. His response was: “Man, all you need is Jesus!” and he gave him a Book of Mormon. Being such a nice, funny guy off the court made him an even greater player in my eyes. Austin is 5 inches taller than Tavernari and has a wingspan that looks about twice as long, but their playing styles seem similar. I don’t think Austin will replace Brandon Davies (that’s crazy talk), but he has the potential to be able to shoot from the outside (which Brandon can’t do) and get on the inside and score in the post. He just needs some more consistency.
Stephen Rogers- I have a soft spot in my heart for this guy. He’s quiet and unassuming, but can do some real damage, especially from beyond the arc. During the Wisconsin game a few weeks ago, I was practically screaming at the TV: “PUT ROGERS IN!!!” Rose finally put him in a few minutes later, and Stephen promptly knocked down a catch-and-shoot three (his specialty). The coaches really need to listen to me more often. BYU ended up losing the game and Rogers made a couple of big mistakes (like leaving that guy who hit about a dozen threes in a row wide open), but overall he really impresses me. No one’s perfect (except for Jimmer, of course), but I really like Stephen.
Clearly there’s no scientific theory behind my reasoning, so am I right or am I wrong? Who is your sixth man of the year?