Welcome to the Inaugural publishing of “Through The Blue Goggles!” As True Blue Cougar FanatYcs we need to know what’s going on with our Cougs each week. This column will do just that, previewing every match, game, and competition that our boys and girls find themselves in. I don’t hold grudges or biases from one sport to another so you’ll get to read as much about Gymnastics and Golf as you do about Football and Basketball. I’m not a master writer, nor am I a professional statistician, but I hope this gets you excited for your favorite sports and maybe interested in a sport you haven’t paid much attention to before.
Unlike most previews, I am going to focus on the best case scenario for each match. I will have the Blue Goggles and be drinking the Blue Kool-Aid for each game. I’ll share stats, trends, and previous match-ups so that you know what to look forward to WHEN we win that match. I’m not interested what happens if we lose. Like it or not, I’m gonna tell you The best outcome and leave it at that. So… Lets get to it!
BYU Men’s Basketball: Fresh off of a commanding victory at home against Pepperdine winning 83-63 behind power performances from Yoeli Childs and Elijah Bryant (shocker) and a game against Santa Clara, the Cougars come home to Provo for two more Non-Saint Zaga match-ups. Last week they proved that the loss to Pacific was an exception, not a rule.
On Thursday, BYU held off a first half scare to ride the Wave’s shooting woes to a 20 point victory over Pepperdine, 83-63. Led by the Dominating Duo of Elijah Bryant and Yeoli Childs, the Cougars just proved too much for an outmatched Pepperdine team. Two days later in Santa Clara, the Cougars shot almost record breaking percentages and quickly bucked the Broncos into the rearview. Shooting 79% from the field and 5/7 from beyond the arc, Yoeli and the rest of the team led by 18 at the half and didn’t look back. Yoeli should definitely think about changing his name to Yoeli Mans because he ain’t no Child(s) no more! The Birthday Boy was on Triple-Double Watch most of the second half and would have easily achieved it if he hadn’t sat the last 10 minutes of the game. 84-50 was the final score and the boys have not looked so loose and in control all season. It was very clear that the team was focused and ready to right the wrongs they made in Stockton.
Now this week they continue with a couple of home games. LMU comes into Provo on Thursday with a record of 6-11, 1-5 in the WCC. Averaging only 65 points per game in league play, LMU has struggled to score the ball more than their opponents who average 78 points. To be fair, those numbers are heavily influenced by their games against Saint Zaga, but their no-shows in those games bode well for Dave Rose and his squad. The Lions have been outscored by Saint Zaga by 14 points on average. Considering BYU has historically matched up fairly well with those two teams, it looks like a big-3 meltdown is in the works for the LMU when they come to Provo.
Saturday will be the Cougars’ biggest test of the conference season since Saint Mary’s. The Toreros come in having a surprising season going 4-2 so far in conference, losing only to Saint Mary’s and then a surprising loss to Pacific in Stockton. San Diego’s High Scoring offense is led by 9 of 10 teammates with a 3 point attempt this season shooting over 30% from beyond the arc, and 5 of those shooting over 40%. The Cougars’ new defense prowess will need to be an full display in the Marriott Center to keep the Toreros at bay. A Y W (that’s a lot of single letters…) will mean a much happier 6-2 conference record and a putting themselves clear of San Diego for 4th place in the league, and assuming that Pacific can’t keep up this mid-season “Cinderella story”, back into third before having a crack at Saint Zaga to move up to the top of the league standings! The Saint Zaga house is divided this week as they match up Thursday, so one of those teams will be in reach for the Cougars this week.
I predict that Saint Mary’s finds out that no pre-season poll can stop the Zags from owning them in this league and then Pacific shows up for another surprising upset on Saturday to hand them back-to-back losses. With BYU’s two wins, that would put us in a tie for 2nd heading into another Head-To-Head with Saint Mary’s on January 25 in Moraga. This is going to get exciting folks!
BYU Women’s Basketball: The Lady Cougars had a rough start to the season. But, since they’ve started conference play, only Saint Mary’s has been able to slow up Cassie Devashrayee and the Cougars. Last week, Pepperdine and Santa Clara were the most recent victims. Devashrayee had another 20+ point game and Malia Nawahine put up a double-double with 13 rebounds and 11 points as the cougars fended off a late surge by Pepperdine on Thursday, winning 73-67. Then on Saturday, Brenna Chase had a career game with 23 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals (though it felt like more). In a defensive battle, that was teetering towards Santa Clara, Brenna proved to be the defense spark needed to make it a comfortable 65-47 win. This week, the Ladies head on the road for a couple of important games.
Thursday the Cougars enter the L.A. Lions’ den and match up against struggling Loyola Marymount. The Lions are 11-6 overall, one win better than the Cougars at 10-7, but are only 3-3 in conference. Cheyanne Wallace comes in average 16 points and her teammate Gabby Green averages 15 with Cierra Belvin averaging 40% from beyond the arc. Compare that to BYU where Cassie Devashrayee averaging 18.8 points and Brenna Chase averaging 12.2 plus Paisley Johnson’s 40% average from 3 and we have a pretty even match-up in scoring. Both teams also boast 3 big contributors over 30% from beyond the arc. LMU averages 70 points while BYU averages 68 and both teams allow 65 a game. On paper, over the course of the season, this is a very even contest. However, when you take out the non-conference games, BYU averages 67.7 while LMU averages only 65. Defense will be key for the Cougars to leave L.A. with a W.
On Saturday, Coach Judkins and his team will head a couple hours south and play San Diego in a match-up between #3 and #4 in the League The Toreros only average 58 points a game in conference and boast only 26 points per game combined from their top two scorers and only two players over 30% from beyond the arc. This one looks to be a little more comfortable for the Cougars. Plus, BYU has won 7 out of the last 9 meetings and has won 4 in a row. After taking down these two, The Cougars will find themselves even further clear of 4th place and may even find themselves in the top 2 if Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s has a slip up.
BYU Women’s Gymnastics: Our very own Olympic Gold Medalist, coach Guard Young and the Lady Cougars put on a show in the Smith Firehouse Friday night against the Cal Bears. It was a nice bounce-back win after losing to the School-that-must-not-be-named up north. The Cougars came out with s lot of energy and an entrance which rivaled the basketball team’s! The #10 Bears came into Provo after winning the NorCal Classic with a score of 195.475. The Cougars eclipsed that score and the Bears left another point at Stanford as several cougars matched career bests and Jill van Mierlo took home the All-Around.
Friday, Southern Utah tucks and rolls into town having split the last two meetings with the Cougars. BYU is rolling, putting up some pretty good numbers. Southern Utah lost to Boise St. to open the season and is looking to get back on track. They have had trouble in Provo, however, and after beating #10, the Cougars will be extra confident and motivated to continue their winning ways. My prediction? Cougars put up more crazy numbers and take this one by 4+ points!
BYU Men’s Volleyball: after a 4 set win against a very good Ball State team and then took the #1 team in the country, THE Ohio State Buckeyes (OH-IO for my Ohioans out there!) into a five set thriller! To be honest, they almost doubled them up in the final set winning 15-8 after taking sets 1 and 3. A great redemption from losing to #13 Loyola-Chicago in the season opener, the Cougars have now beat the #6 and the #1 team. I am excited to see what ranking they have this week and what it will do to the Barton “Bellas” (Sorry, couldn’t help it… I’m a Pitch Perfect fan.)
The Cougars and the Bulldogs met last season and our Boys in Blue brought the Brooms in a 3-0 sweep. The Bulldogs come in at 0-3 having won only 2 sets all season. Incidentally, the first set came against #15 Grand Canyon in the season opener, and the second against #4 Hawaii, yet their sweep came against unranked Lindenwood (who?). With only 10 kills, 10 assists and 7 digs and hitting .205 per set, the Bulldogs look to be in for a long weekend. The Cougars are averaging 11, 11 and 7 in the same categories and are hitting .324. Plus, in the Smith Fieldhouse, The Cougars are tough to beat. If you don’t have any plans on Friday or Saturday evening (Which Saturday, you do), this is going to be fun! I’m predicting that by the time next weekend ends, the cougars find themselves in the top 4 in the nation!
BYU Track and Field: Track and Field heads to the Air Force Academy this week for after having a strong showing at the BYU Invitational last week. Several Cougars had Personal Best and placed high in the standings. The invitational was not an official NCAA event so there were many independent, non-student athletes participating. “Unattached” Cougar Tatenda Tsumba couldn’t do anything wrong and the long-distance teams continued their domination of the sport. With the men’s team being ranked 20th in the preseason poll, the expectations are high going into the season.
Air Force had a good outing at the Potts Indoor Invitational. Most of their successes came in the short distances and the field events so the overall outcome of this week’s meet will be interesting to see. BYU is particularly adept in its track abilities but have historically struggled on the field events so the match-up will be exciting!
BYU Mens Tennis: The Tennis team finished up a great win against UNC-Wilmington on Saturday in Orlando at the USTA National Campus. Taking a 5-2 win over the Seahawks was in large part due to a great showing by Jeffrey Hsu and Sean Hill who won 1st in doubles to secure the doubles point and also won their singles matches.
This week the Cougars will have a busy week! Monday will start off the BYU Cougar’s week against Florida Gulf Coast to close out the USTA National Campus competition. Then, Saturday a Double Header comes to Provo! The team will take on Montana State at 11 am and Weber State at 5 pm.
As the Cougars look to leave the USTA National Campus competition undefeated, they will match-up against the Eagles of FGCU. The Eagles lost 3-4 in a match Sunday against the Seahawks of UNC-W and look to rebound against the Cougars. Considering that the Court Cats took care of business Saturday against UNC-W I don’t think they’ll have any trouble with the Eagles either.
Montana State has never beat the Cougars in 3 tries and in fact, have only been able to secure two set victories over those three matches. The Bobcats from the Big Sky conference will start there season Friday @ Utah and then travel down to Provo to take on the Cougars.
Weber State, also out of the Big Sky comes in 1-0 on the season, beating Southern Utah 5-2 on Sunday. BYU has had similar success in the annual in-state match winning the past 5 meetings in commanding fashion.
I expect the cougars to go 3-0, take the USTA National Campus crown, and start the season with some strong momentum!
So, there you have it folks! A very busy week for Cougar Nation with lots to cheer for and plenty to attend in Provo. Now, please, please give me feedback on the above assessments. Like I mentioned before, I haven’t done this before, I’m not particularly skilled or qualified as a writer so if this is too long, too short, too irrelevant or anything else, let me know. I want to make sure that this is helpful, entertaining, and gets you pumped for our Boys and Girls to go out and Rep the Y. So, here’s to a perfect record this week and Go Cougs!