BYU COUGARS

Best BYU Basketball Team In Program History?

Feb 23, 2020, 3:56 PM
BYU Cougars - Gonzaga Bulldogs...
Courtesy of BYU Photo

PROVO, UtahWe are witnessing the best BYU basketball team since Danny Ainge led the Cougars to the Elite Eight during the 1980-1981 season. Yes, even better than the Jimmer Fredette led team that went to the Sweet 16 in 2011. 

This current Cougar squad captured, in my opinion, the best home victory in school history when they knocked off the #2 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs 91-78. They will have more NBA players than San Diego State did in 2011.

Don’t be shocked to see this Gonzaga team in the Final Four come March, they are that good. They’re still considered to be a number one seed come tournament time. 

Best Offensive Team

They are the best offensive team in college basketball averaging over 87 points per game. The zags have seven players who average at least 10 points per game. We’re talking about the premier basketball program on the west coast, and they have been for the past decade.

Before you call me crazy, let me give you three statistics that illustrate just how good this current BYU team has been offensively, because neither team is considered elite on the defensive end. 

1. Three-Point Shooting

This is the best shooting team that’s ever stepped foot on the hardwood in Provo, Utah. They lead the country in three-point field goal percentage at over 42%. Jake Toolson, TJ Haws, Yoeli Childs, and Conner Harding are shooting over 40% from downtown and that doesn’t include Kolby Lee who is shooting 50% from deep making 7 of 14.

Toolson is top five in the country in three-point percentage, shooting over 46%. He’s currently top three all-time at BYU in career three-point field goal percentage. That’s crazy. 

2. Scoring

BYU is now top 10 in the country in scoring offense. They have three seniors who can score 25 or more points on any given night. Yoeli Childs scored 28 in a win over Gonzaga.

TJ Haws dropped 28 a few nights before in a win over Santa Clara. Jake Toolson dropped a career-high 28 points in a road win at Pacific. Childs and Haws are in the top 10 for points in a career.

That’s remarkable. 

3. Assists

The Cougars are second in the country in assist-turnover ratio at 1.62, only trailing Notre Dame.

The message of sharing the ball to avoid being “sticky” and “owning your shot” from Coach Mark Pope has been heard loud and clear. 

Dave Rose

The greatest coach in BYU basketball history Dave Rose joined Mitch Harper and me on Cougar Sports Saturday on KSL NewsRadio prior to the Gonzaga victory. We asked him which team was better, this current BYU team, or his 2011 team? 

“It’s so hard to compare one thing from another,” said Rose. “From an outsider watching this team, I think this team has way more offensive weapons. I think that their ability to have two or three guys have an average offensive game and still win a game because the two or three other guys really pick it up. That to me seems to be a real advantage for this coaching staff. We had to have Jimmer play great every night, and he did.” 

I love the point Dave Rose makes at the end of that statement. Jimmer Fredette needed to be extraordinary for that team to have achieved the heights that it did. And that’s a credit to him, the supporting cast, and the coaching staff under Dave Rose for building that team around Jimmer’s unique ability to score buckets. 

No one would argue that Jimmer Fredette was a better individual collegiate player than any player on this current team. But that’s not the discussion. We are talking about teams as a whole and there’s no debate this current team has a better collection of offensive talent. 

I’m not trying to disparage the greatness of the last BYU basketball team to make the Sweet 16. They are one of the great teams to have ever played in the Marriott Center. But this current group has the talent, the depth, the coaching staff, and the size with the return of Gavin Baxter, to make the deepest march madness run in program history. 

Seeding and matchups are everything come tournament time, but I won’t be surprised to see this Cougar basketball team in the Sweet 16, or even further. 

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