Iona and BYU will play against each other tonight in Dayton for the right to take on Marquette. The Gaels and Cougars were two of the last teams into the tournament, but now its just survive and advance. To learn more about BYU I exchanged questions with Brett from BYU’s SBNation blog Vanquish the Foe.
1. Like Iona, there were some people that said BYU didn’t belong later in the process. Do you think Cougars will be playing with a chip on their shoulder because of it? Do you think part of the disrespect comes from playing in the WCC now?
Honestly, I don’t think there is a chip on the shoulder. BYU knows it blew some chances, especially against Baylor, and besides a win over Gonzaga, really got beat soundly against Saint Mary’s twice, Gonzaga once, and Wisconsin. The resume was weak, and I think they are grateful just to get the bid. But as far as inner motivation goes, I do think the experience of needing a committee to draft them into the tournament should wake the Cougars up. The team really regressed over the last month of the season, and I think they know that. Knowing they are a better team than a 14-seed in a play-in game should sharpen their focus a bit, I would expect.
2. One of the first things that stands out is how tall BYU is across the front line. They rebound well defensively, but not so much offensively. Why is that? Could it change against a small team like Iona?
BYU can rebound offensively, but that regression I spoke of has a lot to do with it. The Cougars became a little undisciplined over the last few weeks and have hoisted a lot of shots early in the shot clock. That doesn’t bode well for the offensive boards. When playing well, there are opportunities. Against a team like San Diego, which had maybe one real post presence, Brandon Davies pulled down six offensive boards in each of the two games (he grabbed 34 total in those two games). So the potential is there, it just depends on the discipline with which BYU is playing, in my opinion.
3. Both these teams like to run-and-gun, but BYU does it while playing good defense. What are their defensive keys and how do they maintain them while playing at such a high tempo?
The high tempo is maintained because the defense comes from owning the paint. Davies and Noah Hartsock do a great job of altering and/or blocking shots. The two combine to block three shots per game, and can impact a game even more at times. And sometimes, it’s needed. The defensive pressure from the guard line can be lacking. But since it’s the forwards bringing the D, the guards can get out and run.
4. BYU plays a freshman, Matt Carlino, at point guard for a large percentage of the time. How does he match up against Iona’s Scott Machado?
It’s hard to know where to go with that question because there are so many facets. First, Machado is a senior who has played solid minutes all four years of his career, while Carlino is a true freshman who wasn’t eligible to play due to transfer until the 11th game of the year. Machado will have a decided experience advantage, one that he has honed into an excellent senior campaign. As far as a head-to-head matchup, I’d be surprised if Carlino guards Machado. I expect Dave Rose will go with Anson Winder to try and slow Machado down when BYU goes with man-to-man defense. Winder has had an impact harassing Kevin Pangos and Matthew Dellavedova in past games.
As for the other end of the floor, it depends which Matt Carlino shows up. He can change a game when he creates off the dribble, gets into the paint, and gets to the rack or dishes. But so far, that Carlino shows up 10% of the time. BYU would benefit from that, making Machado do some work defensively. But if it’s the Carlino that puts up tough threes early in the shot clock, Machado should have plenty of legs to do what he does.
A big thanks to Brett for answering all these questions, be sure to get your BYU fix over at Vanquish the Foe before tonight’s game at 9 p.m. on truTV.