(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
2011-12 Season Review
BYU basketball experienced several firsts during the 2011-12 season while also achieving benchmarks that have come to define the program under Dave Rose.
The 2011-12 season was BYU’s first as a member of the West Coast Conference after having competed in the Mountain West Conference since it was created in 1999. It was also the Cougars’ first time going to the NCAA Tournament’s First Four in Dayton, Ohio. There BYU set an NCAA Tournament record by overcoming a 25-point deficit to defeat Iona 78-72 and advance for a third-straight year, also a team record.
The Cougars finished the season at 26-9 overall and 12-4 in the WCC. The win totals gave BYU 25-plus victories for the sixth-straight season and 12 conference wins for the seventh-straight. Those streaks, along with the Cougars earning its sixth-straight NCAA Tournament bid and seventh-straight postseason bid, are BYU-record streaks.
The Cougars attained these high levels of success despite losing the greatest backcourt in program history, including 2011 National Player of the Year Jimmer Fredette and BYU’s all-time steals leader Jackson Emery. As Rose has done throughout his tenure as head coach, he looked for new leaders and playmakers and found them in big men Noah Hartsock, a senior, and junior Brandon Davies.
Hartsock was a model of consistency, scoring in double figures in the first 19 games of the season and 31 of 34 games played. He led the team in scoring (16.8 ppg), shooting percentage (.565), free throw percentage (.842) and blocked shots (55) while adding 5.0 boards per game. He earned a spot on the All-WCC Team and was named all-district by the NABC, USBWA and the Basketball Times.
Davies became a dominant presence in the post, averaging 15.2 points and a team-best 7.7 rebounds while adding 51 steals and 47 blocks. He became only the second Cougar in school history to average at least one of everything (points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals) in a single season. Davies totaled nine double-doubles on the year and joined Hartsock on the All-WCC Team and was named second-team all-district by the NABC.
Another leader for the Cougars was Charles Abouo. The senior wing started all 35 games and concluded his career as BYU’s ironman, setting the program records for games played in and consecutive games played at 141 and wins played in at 113. He averaged 11.0 points and 6.2 rebounds.
Several players with little on-court experience stepped up to lead the guard line. After spending the past two seasons as a backup, junior Brock Zylstra started 28 games and averaged 8.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists. His versatility proved to be a greatest as he played every position but center. After a season as a practice player in 2010-11, junior Craig Cusick played in all 35 games, started three and averaged 3.1 points and 2.1 assists.
Freshmen Matt Carlino and Anson Winder also made a big impact on the Cougar backcourt. After sitting out the first 10 games due to NCAA transfer rules, Carlino started 24 games at the point and averaged 12.2 points and 4.6 assists. He was named All-WCC Honorable Mention and earned a spot on the All-Freshman Team. Winder, a redshirt, gave Rose valuable minutes at the point and shooting guard positions. He started 15 games and averaged 4.3 points and totaled 35 steals.
Nate Austin, another freshman, made a big impact for BYU in the post as he averaged 4.1 points and 3.8 boards. First-year wing Damarcus Harrison averaged 3.2 points and had his best game against Iona with a career-best 12 points.