Brandon Davies is back in the game. But we’ll have to wait until the season begins to see how much BYU missed its starting center.
BYU issued a release Friday stating that reinstated Davies after a six-month suspension, allowing him to attend classes and play hoops this fall. He wasn’t the only one delighted by the news.
“I think he’s overjoyed at having a second chance,” teammate Noah Hartsock told the AP. “Most players here at this school might not get that chance, but he was really excited and just really grateful for the opportunity. I think he’s going to take really good care of what he has and he’s going to be a great help for us this year.”
His comments were echoed by most of his Cougar teammates, who are preparing for a move to the WCC this season.
Davies’ reinstatement was not, however, in time for the Cougars’ trip to Greece. And it showed. They went 2-2, including a 39-point loss to the Italian national team. That’s exactly when you need a mobile 6-10 player.
Davies averaged 11.1 points and 6.2 rebounds a game last season before being suspended for violating the school’s honor code in March. The Cougars still managed to reach the Sweet 16, but only after leaning on star Jimmer Fredette even more than before.
Now, the plan is to emphasize Davies’ role. From Andy Katz:
BYU coach Dave Rose said the Cougars will go back to the way they played a few years ago when Trent Plaisted was manning the post.
“The ball went into Trent four out of five possessions, and then the past two years we changed things because of Jimmer,” Rose said. “We’ll go back to playing the majority of the possessions with the ball going in the post first.”
Clearly, Davies is a critical part of that strategy.
“The one thing that was difficult in those last two games on the trip was to play through our post guys,” said Rose, who was also without big men and recent missionaries Nate Austin and Ian Harward. “We were a little bit undersized and had to play Noah [Hartsock] at the 5. With Brandon, he can go back to being a 4. There’s no question our offense will work better. Brandon’s experience with what he’s been through will definitely help.”
He’s not the only crucial guy. Davies and Hartsock were two of the Cougars’ most efficient scorers last season. Charles Abouo‘s role as a scoring guard should increase, along with Brock Zylstra, who led BYU in scoring during its Italy trip. UCLA transfer Matt Carlino will vie for a starting spot once he’s eligible in December.
Still, it’s clear Rose thinks enough of Davies’ skill make him one of the offensive focal points. Maybe it’s his way of saying, “Welcome back, big guy.”
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