"Still Finding Out Who This Team Is..."

"Still Finding Out Who This Team Is..."

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In a weekly attempt to cover my bases, here is the re-cap from last night's Bronco Mendenhall Show, as the coach took a look back at his team's loss to Florida State and previewed the Cougars' conference opener with Colorado State.

You can see the same recap on the BYU Sports and Local Stories pages, and you can hear the show audio by going here...

: Bronco said Bobby Bowden told him the Seminoles weren't as good as they should have been in a 19-9 win over Jacksonville State because they had already been preparing for BYU.

: player feedback was that the Cougars believed they were "further ahead" than they really were and that they thought FSU was "further behind" where they really were, and that some "assumed everything would work out all right" because they were playing at home, where BYU had won 18 in a row.

: Bronco said his players did not play with the same "edge" they had versus Oklahoma and Tulane.

: relative to BYU's struggles playing catch-up, the coach said "we get worse when we change," indicating BYU needs to stay within its game plan even when faced with a significant deficit.

: RB Harvey Unga is "slightly improved," but is "not 100%" and "was not completely pain-free versus Florida State." Bronco said Unga will be used in a manner "similar to last week," and that he will have to "back off" when the hamstring tightens up. Bronco noted that in practice Harvey only goes full speed to necessitate the timing of handoffs, but that after handoffs, he's "never more than three-quarter speed."

: NT Jordan Richardson is back on the defensive line after a one-week cameo on the O-line; Braden Hansen's return to LG and Russell Tialavea's knee injury at nose necessitating the switch back. TE/OL Braden Brown remains working with the offensive line.

: Safety Scott Johnson (concussion) is cleared to play, while LB Matt Bauman (knee) could be sharing snaps with others at middle linebacker.

: Bronco says CB Brian Logan is "as good as or better than any field corner" he has coached at BYU.

: the coach says the MWC continues to get better and that this could be the year a team wins the league with "one or two losses." He says he never thought a team would go undefeated in any of the last five years, in which the league champ was indeed undefeated at the end of the conference campaign.

: Bronco says CSU has made "remarkable progress" similar to the progress made at BYU. He says the Rams are "very solid," full of "grit and determination," with an offense that resembles the best CSU attacks of the '90s; featuring a power run game and screens, with play-action setting up deep throws.

: Bronco acknowledged that the four turnovers per game BYU is averaging in its last four losses are too many, "if you want to win."


I stopped by the Marriott Center yesterday to watch some "open gym" action and get my weekly fill of Cougar hoops. The guys look good, and a familiar face was on hand to get his sweat on and bang a bit: one Keena Young. KT is waiting on a deal to go through that will take him to Spain this season (he has played non-stop overseas since leaving BYU in places such as Korea, Belgium and Kosovo). Keena told me has has put 10-15 pounds on his senior playing weight of 210 lbs, and you can see it--dude is big.

I will never forget the tear he went on at the end of his senior season; he became absolutely unstoppable in the low post, and remains one of the best rags-to-riches stories to take place in Provo.

As a sophomore transfer and part-time starter, KT averaged 7.2 pts and 5.6 rebounds a game while shooting under 50% from the field and only 61% from the free throw line. As a senior, he started every game and averaged 17 and 7, shooting 54% from the field and 80% from the stripe. There's a reason he's still getting paid to play, and the Cougars are fortunate to have had him when they did.


Back to the current crop of Cougars for a moment, and it will be interesting to see how the backup "small" guards work their way into the rotation this season. Lamont Morgan will spell Jimmer Fredette at the point, and as evidenced yesterday, 'Mont can still stroke it--when he gets in a rhythm from outside, he can fill it up, in addition to pushing the tempo as a playmaker.

Combo guard Mike Loyd will unleash his up-tempo game after a redshirt season. I'm not sure how many minutes he will play or where/when, but you'll immediately notice when he's on the floor. He plays his best at full-speed, and that speed is unlike anything BYU fans have seen in a while.


This is not news, but Jimmer can simply score the ball--from anywhere, in any way. It's easy to see how Jimmer could take opponents by surprise, but once the ball is in his hands, it's almost impossible to keep him from getting where he wants to go--and from getting a shot up once he's there.

Jimmer is truly a gifted athlete--he confirmed for me yesterday that Penn State had interest in him as a wide receiver, but they backed off after he told the Lions he would be giving up football during his senior high school season, to focus on hoops.


As for Jonathan Tavernari, the summer spent playing for Brazil has honed his competitive edge and increased his already healthy confidence level. He is making plays and shots like the pros he was playing with for the last two and a half months.


If you have read any of ESPN.com's Andy Katz recently (he has chronicled Dave Rose' cancer battle in exemplary fashion), you have noted Katz pushing for BYU to be included in one of the two cancer benefit-related basketball tournaments in 2010; either the "Coaches Versus Cancer" or "Jimmy V" Classic events.

From what I've been able to gather, it appears that BYU's best bet is to play in the "Jimmy V" event, held early in the second week of December at Madison Square Garden, as part of a single-night doubleheader. The "CVC" tourney is a multi-game November event that also concludes with two contests at MSG.

If for whatever reason BYU doesn't end up in Manhattan next season, look for BYU to still play a game somewhere back east--as close as possible to Jimmer Fredette's Glens Falls, New York home.


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