What is BYU?
According to Wikipedia, "Brigham Young University (often referred to as BYU or, colloquially, The Y) is a private research university located in Provo, Utah, United States. It is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), and, excluding online students, is the largest of any religious university and the 3rd largest private university in the United States, with 29,672 on-campus students. Approximately 99 percent of the university's 30,000 students are members of the LDS Church, and one-third of its American students come from within the state of Utah."
Okay, I knew most of that already. So what is BYU basketball?
BYU has a relatively storied basketball program -- I mean, it's not as celebrated as their football team, but they know how to ball.
Though BYU players are required to stay all four years, and because of their missions, they typically declare for the NBA draft much older than their peers, BYU has still produced more NBA players (21) than Colorado (20). Most notable of their alumnus are Danny Ainge and Space Jam's Shawn Bradley, not to mention notable draft busts Jimmer Fredette and Rafael Araujo.
As you would imagine of a team that has competed in eight of the last nine NCAA Tournaments, BYU's squad this year is a solid bunch. The Cougars sit at 6-2 with both of their losses at the hands of talented teams in Utah and Long Beach State (they beat Colorado State at Moby Arena), respectively.
Against Long Beach State, BYU cost themselves the game by racking up 24 turnovers. If Tad Boyle played Tory Miller at point guard and forced him to be the lead man, I doubt Colorado would even approach that turnover figure -- that's how ghastly BYU's ball security was. BYU only really stayed in the game because the 49ers (surprise, surprise) couldn't get their offense humming.
As for the Utah game, the final score of 83-75 looked a lot closer than the game really was because of a late comeback attempt by BYU. Utah gained a massive lead at half thanks to a magnificent performance from future NBA lottery pick Jakob Poeltl. BYU were unable to slow him down and he finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks. I dread the day (January 8, to be exact) Colorado has to contain the Austrian behemoth.
Of BYU's six wins, none of which came against particularly strong opposition, but unlike Colorado, BYU doesn't ever play down to their opponent's respective skill level. The Cougars are fairly good at shooting, but they don't become overly dependent on perimeter shots in the same vain Colorado State does. Teamed with dependable post game and dynamic penetration from Kyle Collinsworth (more on him in a bit), BYU's offense is noticeably balanced, and therefore, difficult to stop.
Who on BYU would start for Colorado?
I'm trying out this category to give you a feel for who on the opposing team to watch out for the most.
Hello reader, I'd like you to meet Kyle Collinsworth, triple-double machine. Against Belmont on November 28, the 6'6 combo guard became the NCAA's all-time leader in triple-doubles. The previous holders of the record were Drexel's Michael Anderson (‘84-88) and LSU's Shaquille O'Neal (‘89-92) with six apiece. I personally believe Shaq's triple-doubles were more impressive because instead of ranking up double digit assists totals, he had 10+ blocks in each of those six games. But I digress.
As for the prospect of Colorado having a simple defensive gameplan, the ever versatile Collinsworth would happily disintegrate the defensive backbone with shooting, dribble-drive penetration and inside-out passing to perimeter threats. But if Long Beach State's victory over BYU teaches us anything, it's that the most effective way to disrupt Collinsworth's game -- and by extension, the Cougar's entire offense -- is to pressure him into committing turnovers aplenty. Because he's a gifted passer, he has the potential to turn defensive pressure into easy shots for his teammates. Therefore, Colorado would need to ensure their defensive rotations are in top form, thereby mitigating the immediate effect of Collinsworth's deft passing. If the Buffs are able to force turnovers from Collinsworth, victory seems very probable.
Apart from Collinsworth, BYU has only one other player who could contend for a starting spot on the Buffs, and that's senior transfer Kyle Davis. I have no idea why Davis did what he did, but he's played for three different D-1 basketball programs in the state of Utah now.
Davis: I sure do love Southern Utah! It's really too bad the haunted ghost of former WWF star Ronald "Lonnie" Mayne won't leave me alone until I leave his alma mater.
(Two years later) Davis: Utah State University is everything I've hoped and dreamed a university can be, but seriously, why won't the haunted ghost of Ezra Taft Benson leave me alone until I enroll elsewhere?
(Two years later) Davis: I have finally fulfilled my destiny by going to the wonderful Brigham Young University!
/nervously looks around for ghosts
/only sees the remnants of Jimmer Fredette's basketball career
No matter why Davis is now at BYU, he's a very dependable player. He's an excellent rebounder and post move aficionado and he should test Josh Scott and Wesley Gordon. That said, Davis is friggin' turrible at shooting free throws, so maybe if Davis is schooling Gordon on the left block, Tad Boyle could throw out Tory Miller to hack-a-Mormon. Fouling the bejesus out of someone appears to be Miller's best skill, so this matchup could tilt in Colorado's favor.
As Jakob Poeltl showed us, BYU doesn't appear to have any big men capable of stopping an elite post player one-on-one. Oh hello, Josh Scott, leader of all that is good and pure in an increasingly vile world, fell free to utterly dominate this game if you are so inclined.
If BYU employs a swarming 2-3 zone or if Scott is presumably double-teamed -- though I doubt BYU will heavily double-team him if they didn't for Poeltl -- Colorado may become overly reliant on the wings to generate offense off perimeter shots, as they're wont to do.
This is where Dom Collier comes in. If he's able to stay on the court and play like he did against Colorado State, Collier could have a tour de force showcasing his playmaking ability. Besides first-class marksmanship, the best way to beat a zone defense is to penetrate with dribble-drives and implode the zone's structure with inside-out passing. If Collier can do this in a similar manner to how he pulverized Larry Eustachy's gameplan, the Buffs won't need Scott to dominate to win this game comfortably.
Colorado 83, BYU 70