Friday, October 25, 2013

BYU Basketball 2013-2014 Season Preview

Matt Carlino shoots over Frank Bartley
at the Cougar Tipoff
This time of year is my Christmas-- the start of the BYU basketball season! I'm stoked for this year. The roster has changed even more since the last time I blogged about it, leaving only 6 of the same players as last year and no seniors on the team. Normally, that means an inexperienced team that's too young to do much, but I don't think that will be the case. I think they definitely have the talent to have a great season this year and an even better season next year in 2014-2015. Tyler Haws, Matt Carlino, and Kyle Collinsworth have been named the team captains. But there's a whole lot more to this team . . . Let's meet 'em!

#00 Eric Mika
He stole Brandon's number and doubled it . . . but that's ok because I think Eric Mika definitely has the potential to be the next Brandon Davies at BYU. He's a true freshman right out of high school, but he's got a very similar playing style to B, and he's got the strength and the height (at 6'10") to stack up to competitors in the big leagues. With a high school Utah state and national championship under his belt, I think Eric will bring great things to the Cougars this year. He won the dunk contest at Boom Shakalaka, and he definitely did it with style. I'm just not even going to think about him probably heading off on a mission next spring . . .

#2 Matt Carlino
Moving up 8 spots on the numerical roster, Matt Carlino hopes to move up in a lot more ways this year, too. Although he is desperately in need of a haircut at the moment (but stick to scissors, Matty-- not a razor!), I really hope Matt can get his act together this year. When he's on, he's on, and he's amazing. When he's off, he can ruin everything. I think working together with Kyle Collinsworth will take some of the pressure off him at point, though, and he won't be forced to be the primary decision maker for the team all the time, which should help A LOT. If he is willing to learn from Kyle, if he can focus on not getting turnovers, and doesn't keep making stupid snap decisions under pressure, I think Matty will improve a lot this year. Unfortunately, I think he's a little overly confident . . . I hope it doesn't turn into cockiness because that could cause problems.

Kyle Collinsworth & Josh Sharp
#3 Tyler Haws
Not much needs to be said about Ty. He's the star of the team, and definitely my favorite on the roster. He played on Team USA this summer, and is back in Provo to do some damage on his home turf. This is just another year in his quest to beat some of Jimmer's records (and I predict by the end of next year, he definitely will pass him on a few).

#5 Kyle Collinsworth
Why did Kyle & Matt have to change numbers this year and confuse me? I still think of him as #31, but Kyle is back from his mission in Russia and will be wearing #5 this year. I'm super excited to see how things go with him. I doubt he will be quite as good off the mish as Ty was last year, but I think he will slowly come back into it. He really struggled at Boom Shakalaka with the dunk contest-- he just ran out of steam, but I guess you've gotta give him props for giving it a shot. As previously stated, I think his primary role this year should be as a mentor for Matt Carlino because what Matt lacks is what Kyle has (control, consistency, and good decision making). If they can develop a good rhythm together, they will be hard to beat. 

Chase Fischer guards Tyler Haws
#12 Josh Sharp
Josh is the only married member of the team this year, which is rather unusual at BYU. He has a quiet & reserved personality, but he can be a monster on the court. He also competed in the dunk contest at Boom Shakalaka by jumping over his wife's head in round one and doing another dunk in round two that Blaine Fowler & Dave McCann concluded just looked "too easy" or he would have gotten higher scores and given Eric Mika a run for his money. I admit I wasn't the biggest Josh fan until midway through last year-- I've really warmed up to him now, though. He gets it done when it needs to get done.

#13 Andrew Johnston
I don't know much about this kid. He is a walk-on who played both football and basketball in high school. As a 6'3" guard, I assume he will be a backup for Haws, Carlino, and/or Collinsworth.

#20 Anson Winder
Anson is finally healthy this year and can hopefully make some significant contributions to the team. I also heard a rumor that he might be the one to replace Brandon in the pre-game circle dancing role, which is obviously crucial to the team's success. :)

Eric Mika throws it down
at Boom Shakalaka
#23 Skyler Halford
Skyler is a transfer from SLCC. I am actually super impressed with him. He beat out Tyler Haws in the 3-point contest at Boom Shakalaka (which is definitely saying something!) and he played really well at the Cougar Tipoff, too. He reminds me a little bit of Stephen Rogers. I think he will be a great addition to the Cougars, especially as an outside shooter.

#24 Frank Bartley IV
I'm also really impressed with Frank. He reminds me a little bit of Charles Abouo. He's strong, athletic, and can dunk super well for a guy who's only 6'3"-- he came in second place in the Boom Shakalaka dunk contest, and his first dunk was make over the top of 6'10" Eric Mika-- it was crazy!

 #30 Chase Fischer
Chase just transferred from Wake Forest, so he'll have to redshirt this year. I'm impressed with him, though-- I even see little glimpses of Jimmer-esque moves in him. I think he'll be a great addition to the roster next year.

Frank Bartley jumps over Eric Mika
#33 Nate Austin
Story time! I was at my stake institute class a few weeks ago, and about 20 minutes into the lesson, I was looking around the room, and lo and behold, Nate Austin was sitting 3 chairs to my left. How in the world did I not notice a 6'11" guy? I walked right past him! He was sitting down-- that's my excuse. Anyway, my favorite moment of the lesson was when Pres. Lewis (my stake president) asked where the Gates of Hell are located and Nate shouted out, "The University of Utah!" hahaha . . . Pres. Lewis also asked Nate at one point how old he was when he was first able to dunk. Nate answered: 9th grade. Pres. Lewis said, "I've never been able to dunk. Does that make you a better person than me?" Nate (with no hesitation): "Yep." He's a funny guy. And an awesome basketball player.

#41 Luke Worthington
Luke had the chance to play football at BYU, but he chose basketball instead. Or, who knows, maybe he'll be the next Bronson Kaufusi? :) I don't know much about Luke, but he is super tall and strong and will make a good backup for Mika and Austin.

#45 Graham Pingree
Graham is a walk-on, along with Johnston, and is planning on going on a mission next spring. He's a 6'8" forward, so I assume he will play backup for Josh Sharp and maybe Mika, Austin, and Worthington.

All in all, this team inspires me. And makes me super excited for the next 4 months. BYU basketball is the only thing that gets me through the winter . . .

The first exhibition game is tomorrow night, and of course, I'll be there in my mediocre season seat . . . but at least I'm not stuck in the student section anymore! Wahoo! Go Cougars!

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