Las Vegas • No question about it, the image of BYU basketball across the country changed dramatically last week with the jaw-dropping announcement that the school would not allow sophomore Brandon Davies to remain on the team for the remainder of the season because he broke the tenet of the honor code that forbids premarital sex.
How the team actually plays on the court in the absence of the all-Mountain West Conference third-team center will change as well, especially on offense, coach Dave Rose acknowledged Monday as the Cougars continued the process of picking up the pieces and began preparing for Thursday's first round game in the Mountain West Conference tournament.
In short, the No. 8 Cougars (28-3) will play without a dominant low-post scorer the stopgap measure of plugging 6-foot-10 junior James Anderson into Davies' spot having failed miserably in the 82-64 loss to New Mexico. They will run more, ask guards/wings Jimmer Fredette, Jackson Emery and Charles Abouo to penetrate more, and shoot more 3-pointers.
Rose called the Cougars' 64-point explosion in the second half against Wyoming on Saturday, the eighth-most points in a half in school history, "maybe as well as we've played in the Marriott Center since early December."
It's something he could get used to.
"When we are playing well with a group of six or seven [smaller] guys, we can really go," he said. "I think this team [without Davies] will be really hard to match up against."
Rose closed BYU's practices Monday and Tuesday, a rarity, presumably to work on some of those schematic changes. Against Wyoming, the Cougars started 6-6 Kyle Collinsworth at the power forward spot and moved 6-8 Noah Hartsock over to Davies' center position. It was the smallest starting lineup for a BYU team in recent memory.
"In some ways, it could be a real advantage for us, because there will be more space at the rim, and we can attack it better," Rose said.
Of course, the drawbacks will come on defense expect to see even more zone and rebounding, although Rose said outrebounding the Cowboys 38-27 after getting crushed 45-28 on the boards by New Mexico was an encouraging sign.
Fredette said the more games the Cougars can play in their revamped offensive style, the better off they will be.
"We are just going to have to play smaller and have guys penetrate to the basket. We have to play [better] defense, and rebound the ball really well. So you won't see as much posting up maybe down low. There will be more dribble-penetration, get in to guys, take it to the basket or creating plays for other guys."
The Cougars already score more points than any team in the country except three, averaging 82.9 points per game.
"Everyone has just got to elevate [his] game," Emery said. "… It is a team effort. Sometimes we are going to be smaller, so that means everyone has got to step up."
Division I basketball
Scoring offense leaders
1. VMI 87.9
2. Oakland 84.7
3. Washington 84.0
4. BYU 82.9
5. Kansas 82.7
6. Long Island 82.5
Scoring margin leaders
1. Belmont 18.4
2. Kansas 18.2
3. Ohio State 18.2
4. Duke 16.9
5. BYU 15.5
6. Utah State 14.4