BYU suspends basketball player, must regroup
Thu, 03 Mar 2011 18:19:10 GMT —
LYNN DeBRUIN, AP Sports Writer
PROVO, Utah (AP) " Zero is the number 6-foot-9 forward Brandon Davies wore before being booted off BYU's team this week for breaking the school's honor code.
Does it now also represent the odds the third-ranked Cougars have of making a deep run in the NCAA tournament?
Signs in the arena insisted "We Believe" while others reminded opponents that "We Still Have Jimmer."
But player of the year candidate Jimmer Fredette can only do so much.
If anything, Wednesday night's lopsided loss to New Mexico showed that, and further exposed something BYU critics have been saying all year " that the Cougars don't have enough power up front to be considered among the very best teams in the country.
Before Davies was dismissed from the team Tuesday for having premarital sex, according to reports in the Salt Lake Tribune, the Cougars ranked seventh in the Mountain West Conference in rebounds allowed.
On Wednesday without Davies, they were outrebounded 45-29, including 33-22 on the defensive boards.
"We wanted to go inside," Lobos coach Steve Alford admitted after Wednesday's 82-64 victory, the second straight over the Cougars this season. "(Davies) has been very, very big for them all year. He's very skilled and he's very talented ... that's a tremendous loss, so we just wanted to make sure that we went inside as much as possible."Read more: Davies' suspension BYU's Davies dismissed from team In defense of BYU's sex suspension Davies dismissal supported by disappointed students
The Lobos won't be the only one.
BYU might get by in the early rounds of next week's Mountain West Conference tournament, where the Cougars still can earn a No. 1 seed with a win Saturday over Wyoming.
But if they have to face San Diego State again? Or in the NCAAs, where depth often is key?
"It's still a week or two away, all the postseason stuff," small forward Charles Abouo said.
Still, coach Dave Rose admitted the team has to regroup following the shocking turnaround since the win over San Diego State and rise to No. 3 in the land.
The body language on display Wednesday night indicated it may take some time.
Senior guard Jackson Emery could be seen kicking a chair, and Fredette spent the final few minutes at the end of the bench with his chin buried in his chest.
"It's been difficult," said Fredette, one of the team captains that Rose broke the news to first on Monday when school officials were made aware of Davies' situation. "(Davies was like a brother to us, family. It's tough to lose a guy like that and pull together. I think we'll be all right."
Before the shocker lit up talk show lines, twitter accounts and fueled a national debate about BYU's code of honor, BYU was drawing comparisons to NCAA tournament darling Davidson, which made an NCAA tournament run three years ago by working its offense around star point guard Stephen Curry.
But how far can a team go with no power in the paint?
"It was definitely noticeable," Lobos forward Drew Gooden said of BYU's lack of muscle inside. Gooden had a game-high 16 boards, 13 on the defensive end.
"It definitely hurt them that Davies wasn't there, but you have to work with what you're given."
BYU started 6-10 junior James Anderson in Davies' place but Rose quickly went to Plan B, then Plan C and so on.
Not much seemed to work as BYU's inside game disappeared. The Cougars made 8 of 30 shots in the first half and were outrebounded 25-14 as the Lobos took a 42-26 lead.
"We found a lineup that we were really comfortable playing, a lineup we started the (previous) 20 games," Rose said. "Now we need to find the next comfortable lineup."
Falling behind so quickly then tossing up so many perimeter shots didn't help, even with Fredette shooting.
He often tried to do too much, forcing shots before exiting the game having made 10 of 26 overall and 1 of 9 from 3-point range.
"We were trying to score five, six, seven points in one possession," Rose said. "We never got into a rhythm."
Abouo insisted there was no resentment toward Davies, who apologized to his teammates.
"I don't know why we would have resentment toward him," Abouo said. "We love him... everyone makes mistakes. He didn't let anyone down."
Rose also said Davies did the right thing by acknowledging his transgressions to university officials.
But the coach stood by the school's honor code.
"Everybody who comes to BYU, every student if they're an athlete or not an athlete, they make a commitment when they come," Rose said of a code that also forbids use of alcohol and coffee and requires students to be honest and attend church regularly. "A lot of people try to judge if this is right or wrong, but it's a commitment they make. It's not about right or wrong. It's about commitment."
As of Thursday morning, there was still no word whether BYU staffers would edit changes to a pre-game video tribute that still shows Davies patrolling the paint.
At least that would be a simple fix.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.