Eric Mika

winder

Lineup change, bench play help BYU grab an important victory

Leave a comment

BYU entered Thursday night’s game against No. 25 Gonzaga having won five of its last six games, and while the Cougars have multiple players capable of putting points on the board junior guard Tyler Haws has been the star. Averaging more than 23 points per game on the season, Haws averaged 25.8 points per game during that stretch and surpassed the 30-point mark in two of those games.

With this being the case it goes without saying that Gonzaga would look to neutralize Haws, and with him scoring 12 points on 5-for-12 shooting the Bulldogs did a solid job of limiting him offensively. On nights like these the other pieces need to step up, and Dave Rose’s players did just that in the 73-65 victory.

As a result BYU moved to 6-1 in its last seven games while also taking an important step towards a return to the NCAA tournament after missing out a season ago.

Rose made an important change to the starting lineup, moving freshman forward Eric Mika to the bench and giving guard Anson Winder the start in the his place. And the move worked out for both players, with Winder scoring 17 points and Mika adding 13 to go along with eight rebounds. And with Matt Carlino, who scored seven of BYU’s final nine points, scoring 15 on the evening BYU’s reserves outscored Gonzaga’s 34-21.

Mika entered Thursday’s game on the heels of underwhelming performances in BYU’s 60-58 win at Saint Mary’s last Saturday, as he scored five points and failed to grab a single rebound in 17 foul-plagued minutes. Faced with their most important game of the season to date, as BYU entered 0-4 against ranked teams, Rose took a chance and moved his freshman big man to the bench.

There were two objectives to the move: to use Winder in defending Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos and to keep Mika out of foul trouble. BYU was successful on both fronts, with Pangos scoring 13 points on 3-for-9 shooting and Mika playing 24 solid minutes.

Keeping Mika on the bench at the start of the game was Rose’s way of preventing the freshman from getting into early foul trouble.

“I didn’t really mind it. I kind of liked it,” Mika said of coming off the bench. “It was nice to see how the game was going, how the flow was for a minute or two then be able to go. The big guys on the other team were a little bit tired because of the pace of the game. I think it helped my start. It definitely gave me an advantage … I didn’t realize I only played 24 minutes. It felt like I played 40 minutes.”

BYU has two games remaining before the WCC tournament, at home against a Portland team that beat them in triple overtime last month on Saturday followed by a game at San Diego a week later. With their current play and the fact that early-season wins over Stanford (fellow bubble team) and Texas are increasing in value, BYU looks to be inching closer to a spot in the field of 68.

New Year’s Resolutions: BYU Cougars

rose
Leave a comment

Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES BYU PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Play with greater efficiency on the offensive end.

    • Why it will happen:

Dave Rose has some talented offensive weapons at his disposal, most notably the guard tandem of Matt Carlino and Tyler Haws. That duo has combined to average 38.1 points per game this season, with Haws leading the way at 22.2 ppg while also shooting 45.0% from the field. Guard Kyle Collinsworth and forward Eric Mika are also averaging in double figures, and the fact of the matter is that this group is more talented than their efficiency numbers would indicate (9th in the WCC in offensive efficiency). They’re too good to not snap out of their current funk.

    • Why it won’t happen:

You hate to put a team’s issues on one guy, but Carlino (37.5% FG) has a possession percentage of 29.5% but has the team’s lowest offensive rating by far. Of the six other Cougars to have a possession percentage of at least 14% per kenpom.com, Collinsworth has the lowest offensive rating at 102.7. Carlino’s offensive rating: 94.2. In their loss to Loyola Marymount on Saturday, Carlino and Haws combined to shoot 8-for-28 from the field (6-for-22 3PT) and they’ll continue to see a lot of attention as WCC play wears along. And with that being the case, the Cougars could be in for some long nights offensively if those two aren’t on.

WHAT DOES BYU SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Miss free throws.

    • Why it will happen:

The Cougars have capable shooters, so it’s difficult to see them continue to shoot 67.1% from the charity stripe as the season wears on. Prior to the current four-game stretch of not shooting better than 70% from the foul line, BYU enjoyed five straight games in which they shot better than that mark.

    • Why it won’t happen:

While Haws leads the team in free throw attempts and is shooting 86.7% from the line, Carlino’s more of a jump shooter who’s only fourth on the team in attempted free throws (58 FTAs, making 70.7%). The two players between Carlino and Haws are Mika (84 attempts) and Collinsworth (81), and they’re shooting 58.3% and 59.3%, respectively. Mika and Collinsworth lead the Cougars in free throw rate, so obviously they’re more likely to end up on the line than either Carlino or Haws. In the case of Mika he’s going to continue to get fouled as the season wears on due to his strength and ability to score in the paint, and that could lead to points being left on the board.

BYU’s Tyler Haws, Eric Mika lip-syncing 98 degrees? (VIDEO)

Tyler Haws
Leave a comment

BYU’s basketball team has found a unique way to promote games this season: by choosing terrifically awful love songs and convincing some of the team’s most recognizable faces to lip-sync them in ridiculous ways.

Here, you’ll see Tyler Haws and Erik Mika joined by Skyler Halford and Luke Worthington singing “Because of You” by 98 degrees.

That’s almost as good as when they decided to lip-sync Chicago’s ‘You’re the Inspiration’.

But wait, there’s more. You like Robin Thicke?:

Or Justin Timberlake?:

How about Mika riding around in an Italian sports car and rapping:

Matt Carlino can rap a little bit too, apparently:

Someone needs to tell Mika to lose the ‘stache, though:

(h/t Sporting News)

BYU’s supporting cast comes up big in win over Utah State

mika
1 Comment

BYU has one of the nation’s best perimeter scoring tandems in Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino, with both capable of putting together highly productive nights on a consistent basis. They score in different ways, with Carlino being the more aggressive of the two when it comes to hunting for his shots and that can get him into trouble at times. But it works for the Cougars, who are off to a 6-2 start and are expected by many to be Gonzaga’s biggest threat in the WCC.

Against Utah State on Saturday night the Cougars needed more than those two to beat the Aggies, and three players stepped up to the plate in BYU’s 85-74 win at the Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City. Eric Mika, who just over a week ago suffered an eye abrasion in a loss to Iowa State, tallied 15 points and nine rebounds as he more than held his own with Utah State’s Jarred Shaw (12 points, 13 rebounds). Mika’s helped BYU account for the graduation of Brandon Davies, and while the freshman isn’t required to score at the same rate as Davies  his 13.1 points per game has given the Cougars a credible interior threat on the offensive end of the floor.

The other two players who stepped up against Utah State were guards Frank Bartley IV and Kyle Collinsworth. Collinsworth (seven points, 13 rebounds and eight assists) had his fingerprints all over this game, and his ability as a primary ball-handler and distributor allows Carlino to aggressively look for his shots. That was a role head coach Dave Rose envisioned for Collinsworth prior to the start of the season, and the guard has performed well through seven games.

As for Bartley he’s proven to be a valuable reserve for the Cougars along with wing Anson Winder, and he accounted for 14 points and five rebounds against Utah State. It was Bartley who sparked the BYU rally that allowed the Cougars to take control of the game in the second half, as he scored ten of his 14 points during a 29-11 stretch that gave BYU a 12-point lead with 3:39 remaining.

Mika, Collinsworth and Bartley won’t be primary scorers for BYU and that’s fine due to the presence of Carlino and Haws. But in order for the Cougars to be at their best that supplementary trio will need to be productive, especially in games like Saturday’s. And on Saturday night, they showed that they’re more than capable of helping to carry the load.

BYU freshman forward Erick Mika diagnosed with right eye abrasion

mika
Leave a comment

With 3:28 remaining in Wednesday night’s matchup with No. 21 Iowa State, BYU freshman forward Eric Mika was injured when DeAndre Kane swiped at the basketball and ended up striking Mika in the face. Due to the force of the blow Kane was called for a flagrant two foul, resulting in his ejection, but the bigger concern for BYU was the long-term status of their best post player.

According to Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune the injury isn’t as bad as originally feared, with doctors diagnosing Mika with a right eye abrasion after scans revealed no broken bones or structural damage. Mika finished the game with 17 points and nine rebounds, and for the season he’s averaging 13.4 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest.

And while Iowa State certainly deserves credit for the victory, Mika’s absence did have an impact down the stretch according to BYU head coach Dave Rose.

“Eric did give us a real presence inside, scoring with the ball, but what he really did for us was offensive rebounds,” Rose said. “He had five offensive rebounds. We missed quite a few short shots late that were around the rim that Eric probably could have helped us with.”

According to the report Mika was to be re-evaluated on Thursday in order to determine his status for BYU’s next game, with the Cougars meeting Texas in Kansas City on Monday night in a CBE Classic semifinal. If Mika were unable to go even more would be required of Nate Austin, who accounted for six points and a game-high 13 rebounds on Wednesday night.

BYU freshman Eric Mika wins dunk contest at BYU’s ‘Boom Shakalaka’ (VIDEO)

Eric Mika
Leave a comment

BYU unofficially kicked off its season on Friday night with their “Boom Shakalaka” event that included a dunk contest, three-point contest and skills contest.

With a cool event name and slick lighting and presentation, the video from the dunk contest, in particular, looks really good as America can get a glimpse of BYU freshman big man Eric Mika.

The 6-foot-8 forward from Lone Peak High School in Highland, Utah won the contest with some alley-oops, including one from behind the backboard and the title-winning dunk in which Mika jumped over a mini dirtbike and proceeded to ride it around the court after the dunk.

Contest highlights also included the athleticism of freshman guard Frank Bartley IV and junior forward Josh Sharp jumping over his wife during a dunk and going in for a kiss afterwards as the crowd goes wild.