NCAA countdown: No. 42 BYU
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
The first word: Last season, Brigham Young guard Tyler Haws had little time to prepare for his sophomore college basketball season when he returned from the Philippines where he was completing a mission as part of his Mormon faith.
It didn’t seem to matter much.
Haws enjoyed a spectacular sophomore campaign, averaging 21.7 points and shooting a blistering 48.3% from the field. He was a big reason behind the Cougars’ 24 win-season, which was capped off in the NIT semifinals after BYU had its stretch of six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances snapped.
Now with a full offseason under his belt — including time spent on Team USA for the U-19 World Championships — Haws is poised for an even better junior season, which means a BYU squad with plenty of key returnees is as well.
2012-13 in review: 24-12 overall (10-6 West Coast Conference), lost in NIT semifinals.
Path to the Dance: A conference tournament championship is always the goal so that there’s no nail-biting on Selection Sunday, but should that route hit a road block, an at-large bid is still a possibility. It will be vital to win early in the non-conference schedule and avoid any major hiccups in WCC play against weaker opponents. Playing Stanford, UMass, Oregon and Iowa State should help in the RPI equation.
Conference outlook: The Cougars spent last February and March stuck on the NCAA tournament bubble, with little opportunity to significantly boost their résumé because of low-RPI conference foes. That and beating Gozaga at one point meant beating the No. 1 team in the country. The Zags will still be good again in 2013-14, make no mistake, but their stranglehold on the WCC has loosened, and BYU is a formidable challenger. Saint Mary’s could take a hit with top player Matthew Dellavedova departing, but the Gaels are never a team to sleep on. Aside from the big three, San Francisco and San Diego could be in the mix.
Tournament projection: No. 10 seed.
Coach’s corner: Coach Dave Rose underwent surgery earlier this month in Salt Lake City to remove “cancerous spots” … [For more on College basketball countdown: No. 42 Brigham Young, click here.]