Loyal Cougars

Collinsworth’s steady play sets up Haws’ supernatural smackdown

Evan Hall breaks down Tyler Haws’ second half supernova performance in BYU’s win over Pepperdine.

The Facts

BYU beat Pepperdine 84-72 to notch its second straight win, avenging an earlier season loss against the Waves in the process. Tyler Haws led all scorers with 35 points on 11-for-23 shooting, including 11 consecutive at one point in the second half, while Kyle Collinsworth narrowly missed recording BYU’s first triple double in 25 years with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists. Eric Mika sat out for BYU with a hip injury, while Pepperdine was without the services of two starters, Brandon Lane and Malcolm Brooks. BYU moves to 10-7 on the season and 2-2 in WCC play.

The Analysis

This was not an impressive win, per se. BYU led for most of the game, but Pepperdine would not go away, even without their leading scorer in Brandon Lane and Malcolm Brooks, the guy who lit up BYU for 24 points in the game 10 days ago. There were stretches, certainly, where BYU looked like the definitively better team, only to let Pepperdine creep back in with porous defense.

Still, it was a win, and an enjoyable one to watch, primarily because Tyler Haws went Tyler Haws on everything. Late in the second half, after Pepperdine had cut the lead to 64-60, Haws went straight supernova. He hit three straight threes, a deep jumper and a handful of free throws. Suddenly the lead was at 13 and the game was over. His first two threes were transition beauties from the corner, and the performance as a whole was classic Haws. All opportunism and wily, old-man mid-range game.

Haws may have been the clincher, but it was Kyle Collinsworth who got us there. It was another box score line from the Andrei Kirilenko school of ball: 15 points on 5-for-11 shooting, 10 boards, 9 assists, 3 steals and some suspect free throw shooting to boot. Collinsworth continues to be BYU’s best all-around player. Haws, dominant as he is, is a specialist at heart. He’s a surgeon, there to make the right cuts and hit the right shots at the right times, but Collinsworth is the family physician, setting everything up and filling all the holes and putting BYU’s opponents into position for a cold-hearted evisceration from Tyler Haws.

Stray Observations

The Skyler Halford Effect. The spacing, guys. Good crap the spacing. In those four losses, BYU’s half-court offense looked and felt like a game of 7-on-7 in a cramped church gym. Halford isn’t the greatest defender, and he hasn’t really shown the ability to distribute, but to have two shooters on the floor, like BYU did with Halford and Haws, does wonders for BYU’s half-court looks. Open threes, which, you know, didn’t actually exist during the losing streak, suddenly felt like natural consequences of offensive flow. Halford shot well, 7-for-14 from the field including two threes, but his influence extends past his own shooting contributions. Haws, Collinsworth and Winder all got good shots because of the spacing Halford’s shooting brings.

That said, I actually wish Halford would shoot more. Deep, unguarded threes are the market inefficiency against college defenses, especially zones. In the Jimmer era, what the average viewer saw from Jimmer — a gunner with an unprecedented green light from his coach — was actually exploiting where defenses were weakest: on the deep perimeter. I don’t mean I want him jacking up threes from Jimmer range, only that he’s shown he’s capable of shooting well, and if he’s unguarded, those threes will only help spacing more, not to mention that he might make some. Punish the defense for packing it in.

Some lingering concerns. You could make a persuasive case that this team lacks mental toughness. Mental toughness may not seem like a real thing, but I need some phrase to describe the way BYU absorbs punches at home and keeps bringing it compared to the way they can get flattened in road arenas and just stay there on the ground, twitching, for the rest of the game. I’m not saying this team has a case of home/away bipolarity. Wins like this one, against a depleted Pepperdine team at home, or like the previous one against San Diego, definitely soothe the pain from earlier losses, but in order for this team to have a shot at the regular season title (something that’s still a possibility, despite those two conference losses), BYU has to win away games against good teams. I’m still not sure if they can, given the free throw woes.

What’s the deal with Anson Winder? He looks increasingly disengaged. When he drives, he kicks it out too early and generally seems hesitant to do the things that made him an effective bench player last year. The thing about Winder is that, for awhile, he was the only BYU player hitting threes that the offense desperately needed, but that was virtually the only thing he brought to the table. So when he went 0-for-3 from three tonight, I couldn’t help but wonder why he’s even out there. I hope he turns it around, because he has defensive tools, and because BYU needs shooters, but maybe Rose needs to cut his minutes for a few games and give him a chance to reset.

A rant about Matt Carlino. As much as I love what Halford does for BYU’s offense, and as much as I love Collinsworth for what he does for my faith in good basketball, this team’s ceiling goes only as high as Matt Carlino plays. So take away his green light, and sure, he takes fewer stupid shots, but he also stops being Matt Carlino. He’s way less aggressive. He pushes the ball less frequently. He passes on wide open threes. He just loses his #CarlinoSwag. It’s the worst.

Look, I get it. Nobody likes watching a gunner shoot his team out of games with off-balance long twos, but Carlino is an extremely talented player who runs on confidence like fuel. You live with the crappy shot selection sometimes, because you can’t live without all the other great stuff he does that no one else can. I repeat: No one else on this team can do what Carlino can. He is not a system player, and I’m sure for Dave Rose that’s incredibly frustrating, but he’s also a freakin’ baller, and sometimes, he’s the best one on the roster.

Haws will be Haws, and Collinsworth will be Collinsworth, and that will earn this team a decent record, but BYU cannot compete for the conference championship both in the regular season and in the conference tourney without Matt Carlino. When half-court offenses are bogging down in a road game against St. Mary’s, BYU needs Matt Carlino. Not the muted, reluctant Matt Carlino of late, but the mercurial, occasionally foolish and frequently brilliant one from the beginning of the season.


  1. Brett Hein

    January 10, 2014 at 6:18 am

    I understand what you and Steve are saying about letting Carlino be Carlino, but I think maybe the point has been belabored a bit. Sure, BYU will be its best with Matty Ice — but Matty Ice only exists when Carlino isn’t forcing shots. His attacking and the pressure it puts on defenses definitely raises the team up. But it *has to* come with a smarter level of restraint like he’s shown in the last two games. Otherwise, “taking the good with the bad” will mean enduring several more losses to bad teams.

  2. Brett Hein

    January 10, 2014 at 6:19 am

    As for everything else, though — spot on. Was great to see Haws The Assassin again, Collinsworth is so, so valuable, and Halford’s new role is fabulous for this team. Gotta shoot the three in college, and Halford’s presence changes everything for the Cougars,

  3. Justin Whiting

    January 10, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Lovely article and I agree with you. Haws is an incredible shooter. Normally I think he is actually pretty boring to watch, but he actually had some really great moves last night. I also love to see him talking more to the other guys during time outs and breaks in the game. I HOPE that he is starting to take on the leadership a bit more.

    Collinsworth is a great player and am glad that we still have two more years. I didn’t really watch much of his freshman year, but he is great! It seems so odd to have him as the starting point guard then move him to a 3 or 4 guard though when Carlino comes back in. Weird, but ok. Having him at the point and calming things down has been good, to get things going again, but I am am with you that Carlino has the skills to beat better teams and we need Collinsworth doing the other things he does so well.

    I think Carlino has responded pretty well to his coming off the bench, but for sure he seems very tentative. 6 assists and no turn overs is good, but he needs to get his shot back. I don’t mind him coming off the bench, but think he will have a big game soon and be back on track. Having said that, however, I think he needs to be an assist first guy and he needs to get the others scoring before he tries to get the scoring done. Continuing with the medical professional analogy, he needs to be the office manager that helps the other surgeons or family doctors get done what they do best. The problem with the last few games where he struggled was that he was taking shots at the expense of others. And when he does that, it kills everyone. As long as he gets back to the running the floor and distributing the ball, before looking to shoot, the team will be fine. But the change was needed for him to get a different perspective.

    All in all, I am still fairly pleased with the team this year. They are so young that I wasn’t expecting much. Mika has been very impressive and Halford is playing great! I think that as long as it continues, they can still win the conference tourney. Still a lot of improvement needed, but there is a chance. We will see…

  4. Wes

    January 10, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    OK, SINCE YOU ASKED. I love Cougar Hoops. I can’t wait to taunt some Zag fans in Vegas this year. By the way, can we show up this year? I think there were even more Zag fans than Cougar fans watching us lose to San Diego last year. But I have many opinions about what you said.

    Collinsworth – what a great player. I don’t love him at point guard – but I understand the mismatch it potentially can create underneath for teams on defense, and I like it. We just don’t have the depth with big men to afford the luxury of Collinsworth at the one. The biggest recent development with Collinsworth is that he is hitting his mid-range shots. If this guy can develop that shot AND three-pointers (there’s your flaw in the Kirilenko comparison), he will be one of the best in the country and an NBA player. He also has to work on turnovers.

    Carlino – Rose said something interesting about a month ago, when Carlino was still playing well. He said that if he tried to take away his forced shots, that it really hurt a lot of other facets of his game. Well, I think exactly that has happened. Carlino tricked us into believing his inconsistent play was behind him at the beginning of the year. I disagree with one thing – that this team will go only as far as Carlino takes it. Where this team is, they probably can’t lose more than one more game in conference and not have to win the WCC tourney to get to The Dance. (although the Zags lost at Portland last night) If Carlino were to have another 1-13 night shooting, that would do it. What BYU HAS to have right now is consistency at point guard. You can see the impact these events have had on Carlino at the free throw line. Early in the year, he was almost disinterested – half-heartedly throwing them up. Now, he’s taking time, as if he actually cares if he makes it. Carlino will get through this, and he will recapture his form – he’s just getting a little humility.

    Halford – If it weren’t for Skyler, BYU would only go as far as Carlino takes them. He has demonstrated good, consistent play since the beginning of the season. He handles well, he drives and creates well, he passes fairly, he defends amazingly, he moves without the ball tremendously, and he shoots better than Carlino. His energy is incredible. He has a good mid-range game. He might not give you as many brilliant flashes, or as many steals, as Carlino would, but he won’t absolutely kill you either. Rose started him at the 2 against San Diego – but against Pepperdine he started him at the 1 and moved him to the 2 when Carlino came in. And I loved it.

    Winder – I’m with you. Winder provides two things: 1) He’s a decent shooter and 2) he’s a good on-ball defender. If he’s not hitting, then there’s only one reason for Rose to put him in – and that’s something that Carlino, Collinsworth, and Halford can all do. The worst thing that happened to Winder is that Halford came to the team, because Winder is a poor man’s Skyler Halford.

    Bartley – Rose sure is keeping him on a short leash these days! Misses two shots, plays 2 minutes and sits. I know he is a freshman, but this team will need his athleticism down the stretch.

    Mika – Why did Rose play Mika so much – keeping him in up 18 in the 2nd half, while he was in some serious pain? I know we desperately need Mika – and maybe he’s teaching him to play through pain, but wouldn’t it have been wise to rest him for upcoming dog fights? I recall kind of the same thing with Hartsock when he had that ugly ankle sprain two years back.

  5. Lance Archibald

    January 10, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    I can’t believe you don’t like the new look Carlino!? He was a wasted possession waiting to happen combined with inconsistent effort on defense, and you prefer that over higher percentage shots, 6 assists, 0 turnovers and better effort on defense? This team will go as far as their defense will take them. There are enough talented scorers on this team, they don’t need to hope for the 1/5 chance in any given game that their least efficient player goes Jimmer on everybody and can’t miss. He’s finally playing team basketball, BYU is scoring, playing D, and winning.

  6. Ron

    January 10, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Some general observations of mine.
    One. Matt is a baller. And like all ballers, confidence is key. But ballers don’t get there confidence from a coach or from other players. They don’t even get it from making shots. They get it by doing what they are comfortable doing. To me Matts role should be to “jack up” his threes (4-6 of them) in the first five minutes from the top of the key coming off a pick or shooting from the just off the top of the key about 2-3 feet back when they leave him open. Then he should only put up maybe 1 or 2 more threes in the next five minutes. Then distribute the rest of the half except on fast breaks (like on a steal) or a wide open drive. In the second half put up maybe 2 or 3 3’s and any other shot in the next few minutes from just passed the free throw line. That is the game I see him most comfortable with. If they want to stop his shooting they should reign him in the second 10 mins of the first half and in the last 15 min of the game (unless he is still feeling it and is wide open about 1-2 ft behind the 3pt line and in (otherwise count on the ball hitting the front of the rim).
    As for Haws, he just did what he does naturally. I think he is about as much a “baller” as Matt just different. He will hit some first half shots and usualy will have around 10 to 12 pts and sometimes much less because he just isn’t hitting. But in the second half and especially the last 7-10 minutes of the game its time to feed him the ball. That is when he is most focused and most comfortable shooting. I am somewhat tired of hearing in the first half how he appears to be “off his game tonight” by the commentators. He almost never takes over the game until later in the second half. Until then he seems to be feeling for his shot, and it may even be that his body isn’t fatigued enough yet so his shots are a little off. When it gets to that right time then he seems to be able to put the exact right amount of touch on all his shots. This isn’t unusual either. Some people are just more “energetic” at the start of something but as they compete they seem to settle into a groove (this is especially common with young MLB pitchers who haven’t yet learned how much “warm up they really need to be at that right point to start off in the zone).
    Lastly, the zone should only be limited use. It is impossible to not give up open shots because they can pass the ball much quicker than people can move and when there is penetration the kick out will always be wide open. Also, you lose a whole lot of rebounds. Zone defenders must find someone to get a body on or it ends up being one on two with the advantage going to the team that shot the ball. There is too much separation from the offensive players that they can easily get around defenders who are looking at the ball instead of finding someone to block out.

  7. Mike Jacobson

    January 10, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    @Lance Cha Ching! Cha Ching!

    I love Matt Carlino, and it hurts to see him not start, however we are a better team of late with him in his new role. This doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t come on late, like last year! Kyle Collinsworth….what can you say except, KYLELENKO!

  8. Ken Reed

    January 10, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Agreed on Collinsworth. He’s an ANIMAL! Love that dude! Hope he stays healthy.

  9. Wahului

    January 10, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    Why the h-e-double toothpicks are alleged D-1 athletes so often such freakin’ basket cases??? Answer: the truly good ones aren’t. There are some talented athletes that have to be molly coddled almost beyond imagination because of their “delicate psyches”. MULE FRITTERS!!!! If Carlino, for all his basketball skill, has to nursemaided through his career, he’ll never be worth the trouble. He’s got to play smart ball and play it well, or go join the chess team. BYU’s unfortunate lack of depth creates a bad situation in terms of getting tough with a talented player, but the principle doesn’t change. It’s put up or shut up, and it’s every player’s individual responsibility to see that he himself does so.