SAN DIEGO — After almost three months of waiting to see the development of BYU’s new identity for this season (following one of the most successful seasons in the school’s history), the Cougars finally delivered their answer on Monday in their 82-63 win against the University of San Diego.
What is their identity? Simple. They don’t have one.
Capturing their fifth consecutive win on Monday, the Cougars used the Jenny Craig Pavilion as their podium to announce that this season heavy lifting/shooting would occur from the foot of the court to the head.
In the case of the USD game, BYU head coach Dave Rose stated that the Toreros came in expecting BYU’s greatest strength to be pumped out from those around the iron rim.
“When we came in here tonight, (San Diego) was bound and determined to not to let our two post guys have their way, especially offensively," Rose said. "It kind of surprised us at first.”
Staying constant in their chameleon offense, the Cougars changed to the shade of their new arena. Instead of forcing points under the rim, BYU began throwing down from uptown.
The adaptation for the Cougs was not instant, but Abouo’s shots at the beginning did help spark the relocation of dots on the shot chart. Closing the half with 37 points (USD with 29 points), BYU had ten of those points coming from wing guard Charles Abouo, seven from point guard Matt Carlino and six from point guard Craig Cusick.
Finishing the game with a close triple-double (14 points, seven assists and seven rebounds) Abouo demonstrated first-hand the adaptive game play of BYU this season.
“His stats tonight identify who he is,” BYU wing guard Brock Zylstra said. “He is someone that’s going to do it all for us. He get rebounds, he passes the ball when he needs to. He just does the things he needs to do to get us to win the game.”
And while the upper court players were the ones adding tallies to the scoreboard, Zylstra points out that a great amount of legwork was put in from the lower players.
“You’re always going to have a great team when your bigs are great passers and are willing to give up the ball like Brandon and Noah do for us,” Zylstra said.
After putting up more points (17) than any other player on the court on Monday, it seems fitting for Zylstra to be the one to recognize those skillful passes.
Having scored in the double digits only once in the last seven games, Zylstra is yet another player to demonstrate the Cougars’ chameleon-point distribution.
“That’s what was given to me tonight,” Zylstra said. “Brandon (Davies) and Noah (Hartsock) were getting double-teamed so they found the open shooter and it happened to be me tonight. So I was just lucky to be a benefactor of that.”
Putting down his first shot of the game from behind the arc with only three seconds left in the first half, Zylstra added his remaining 14 points in the second half.
Coming out of the locker room with an increased realization of the need to have high points from lower numbered players (one through three), Carlino got BYU off to a fast start with five quick points.
Recognizing that their new home was a home-away-from-home, the posts came out of halftime with an increased level of aggression on defense. Hartsock, Davies and Nate Austin all sought to grow in board tallies.
Finishing the game with his second double-double this season (12 points and 12 boards), Davies led the game in rebounds and helped BYU gain an 18-rebound advantage over the Toreros at 46-28.
Rose is enthused by the unclear image projected in the tapes that team opponents will have to scratch their heads over this season.
“I really like this team,” Rose said. “I like the guys. I like their makeup. They know what we need to do, and tonight they were able to get it done a different way than we have normally done."