Wrong team, right schedule

The 2004-2005 edition of the BYU men’s basketball team is a perfect example of the wrong team with the right schedule. The Cougars (7-13, 1-4) faced one of the hardest non-conference schedules of any Mountain West Conference team, and the results spoke for themselves.

As expected, BYU suffered losses to the likes of No. 3 North Carolina, Stanford, USC, St. Mary’s, and North Carolina State. But what wasn’t expected was that BYU would lose to Utah State twice-both times badly-or that it would open conference play with a record of zero wins and four losses.

The reason for BYU’s poor record is attributable not only to its brutal schedule, but also to its youth. BYU head coach Steve Cleveland has assembled a solid core of sophomores who are all receiving valuable playing time, but they haven’t reached their primes by any stretch of the imagination.

Sophomore forwards Keena Young and Garner Meads join the 6-foot-11-inch sophomore center Derek Dawes as a frontcourt that will be very good in a year or two. All three are ranked in the top 15 in rebounding in the MWC.

Youth is also a prevalent theme for the guards. Although they are currently overshadowed by the team’s best player, senior Mike Hall, sophomores Austin Ainge (son of BYU legend Danny) and Mike Rose have both had solid seasons. Rose is averaging 10.2 points per game and ranks second in the MWC in the number of three-point field goals made. Ainge is fourth in the conference in assists with 4.05 per game, and he is ranked in the top 10 in steals.

Even when one considers the strength of BYU’s schedule, this season has already been a huge disappointment. The Cougars should be much improved in the next couple of years, but for now they are just trying to get a few wins to help their confidence.

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