(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
2011-12 Season Prospectus
BYU basketball begins a new era in 2011-12 as the Cougars enter their first season as members of the West Coast Conference. This season also marks a new television partnership with BYUtv and ESPN that will give fans unprecedented access to BYU basketball.
With Dave Rose leading the way, the Cougars have enjoyed the most successful six-year run in program history. Beginning with the 2005-06 season, Rose has led BYU to a 159-45 record, five-consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament, five-straight 25-win seasons and five-straight seasons ranked in the top 25.
Rose has not allowed the loss of key players year after year to interrupt the program’s momentum. In 2006-07, Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Keena Young led BYU to a 25-9 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. After he graduated, the Cougars won 27 games in 2007-08 and Lee Cummard was named the MWC Player of the Year. Cummard led BYU to 25 more wins his senior year in 2008-09 and the Cougars responded to his departure with 30 wins the next year.
This season, Rose will be faced with the unique challenge of replacing Jimmer Fredette, the 2011 National Player of the Year, and Jackson Emery, BYU’s all-time steals leader. While the losses in the backcourt may be significant, the Cougar roster is loaded with talent, experience and promising newcomers heading into 2011-12.
BYU returns three starters and seven letterwinners from last season’s Sweet 16 team that won a program record 32 games and finished the season ranked No. 10 in the AP Poll.
Returning seniors Charles Abouo and Noah Hartsock and junior Brandon Davies — all starters last season — will give the Cougars a deep and experienced frontcourt as the three have a combined 118 starts. The return of a healthy Chris Collinsworth gives Rose a strong rebounder who has the ability to score inside and from the perimeter.
Other returning letterwinners include juniors Nick Martineau, Stephen Rogers and Brock Zylstra. All three gained valuable experience during the team’s trip to Greece this summer and look to play bigger roles at the point guard and wing spots in 2011-12.
Following is a position-by-position breakdown of the 2011-12 roster:
Fredette manned the starting point guard spot for three years and graduated as BYU’s all-time scoring leader and fourth all-time in career assists. The point guards will not be expected to score at the same rate as Fredette did while leading the nation in scoring but will have the charge to run the offense and get the Cougars out in transition.
Martineau has the most experience of the points, having played 45 games in his career. A steady ball handler and distributor, Martineau also has the ability to hit the outside shot. Craig Cusick enters his first season on the roster. A star at Orem High, Cusick redshirted at Utah prior to serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Last season he was a member of BYU’s practice squad.
Two freshmen will also vie for time as the floor general, including redshirt Matt Carlino and Austin Nelson. Carlino was highly recruited and enrolled at UCLA before transferring to BYU for the 2011 winter semester. The lefty from Arizona has the ability to penetrate and brings creativity and deep range to the court. Carlino will not be eligible until Dec. 17 due to NCAA transfer rules.
Nelson comes to BYU from Coronado High School in Henderson, Nevada. As a senior he averaged 17.2 points and 7.7 assists and led Coronado to a 22-8 record. Nelson was named to the 4A All-State Third Team by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The wildcard at the point guard position is Zylstra. The 6-foot-6 junior has played on the wing during his three years at BYU but ran the point against the Italian National Team during the Cougars’ trip to Greece.
Abouo is BYU’s most experienced and strongest wing player. During the past three seasons Abouo has played in 106 games and started 25. Last season he averaged 7.2 points and 4.8 rebounds and was one of the team’s best defenders. He demonstrated the ability to be a scorer as he posted a career-high 25 points against Wyoming, 22 against Utah and 18 at No. 3 San Diego State. Abouo averaged 14.8 points and 8.3 boards in Greece this summer.
Other returning players expected to play alongside Abouo and pick up the slack left by Emery are Rogers and Zylstra. Rogers, an NJCAA All-American prior to coming to BYU, averaged 4.1 points and 2.2 boards in 2010-11. He demonstrated his scoring touch with 15 points on 3-of-5 shooting from three at TCU and 10 points against Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament. Rogers also hit 27-consecutive free throws, the best streak on the team last season. In Greece he posted 12.3 points per game, including a 20-point outing against the Greek National Team.
Zylstra emerged as a scoring threat in Greece as he averaged a team-best 17.3 points and 6.0 boards. He scored 27 points against ASE Doukas and 26 against the Italian National Team. Zylstra has played 49 career games for BYU and scored a career-high 11 points vs. Chicago State last season.
Several freshmen will also battle for time at the wing. Freshman Anson Winder learned Rose’s system last season as a redshirt and brings a solid all-around game to the squad. Damarcus Harrison comes out of Christ School and possesses great athleticism combined with the ability to finish at the basket and shoot from the outside.
Other newcomers on the wing include Jaren Sweeney and Josh Sharp. Sweeney, a sweet shooting forward from Mesa, Ariz., helped lead Mountain View to the 5A Arizona state title and 27-3 overall record. Sharp redshirted a year at Utah before serving a two-year mission. He helped Lone Peak to back-to-back state titles and is a multi-tooled player who will also see action in the post.
The majority of BYU’s returning scoring punch and experience will come from the post, where Davies, Hartsock and Collinsworth are back. Davies was third on the team in scoring (11.1) and first in rebounding (6.2) last season while shooting .525 from the field. He earned a spot on the All-MWC Third Team, scored in double-figures 20 times, had three double-doubles and scored a career-best 24 points at Creighton.
Hartsock enters his senior season as a two-year starter and one of BYU’s all-time leading shot blockers. In 2010-11 he totaled 61 blocks, good for third in the MWC. With 122 rejections for his career, Hartsock is fourth all-time in career blocks in BYU history. He also averaged 8.6 points and 5.9 boards while shooting .498 from the field and .828 from the free throw line. The All-MWC Honorable Mention honoree also emerged as a threat from 3-point range as he hit 26 on the season and shot .433 from downtown.
While Collinsworth was limited to nine games last season, he demonstrated the potential to be a rebounding force and offensive weapon. He averaged 5.9 points and 5.6 boards and posted a near double-double with 11 points and eight boards against Fresno Pacific before missing the remainder of the season due to a knee injury.
In addition to Sharp, several other newcomers will look to contribute down low for the Cougars. A trio of returned missionaries in Mike Boswell, Nate Austin and Ian Harward will give Rose plenty of size on the roster. Boswell, who redshirted in 2008-09 before serving a mission, stands 6-foot-9 and hails from Aloha, Oregon. Austin and Harward both measure 6-foot-10 and are local products. Austin played with Sharp and Tyler Haws (currently on a mission in the Philippines) at Lone Peak while Harward starred at Orem High School.