BYU’s "Other" Cougars Step Up and Silence Willis, UNLV

Posted by Jeff Hansen on February-5-2011 Add Comments

Saturday afternoon was a learning experience for me. While watching BYU beat UNLV 78-64 at the Marriott Center, I learned three important lessons.

1) Tre’Von Willis should never talk about Jimmer Fredette, ever.

2) BYU is more than just a one-trick pony.

3) Why Jimmer Fredette is a great player.

On January 3rd, UNLV guard Tre’Von Willis said “They’ve got a preseason All-American and supposedly the best player in the conference.. I try to make him earn everything he gets…he has all of those accolades, but he’s gotta come in and prove it.”

Two days after Willis’ comments, Freddette torched Willis and UNLV for 39 points in a big victory for BYU. This win was Fredette’s first win against UNLV at Las Vegas.

Earlier this week, Willis spoke about Fredette again, calling him a “scorer that doesn’t like to pass the ball.”

Again, Fredette made Willis eat his words as he dished out seven assists for BYU.

Fredette struggled a little bit from the field today. He only shot 6-of-14 from the field and just 1-of-5 from long range. For most, that’s a very good day, but by “Jimmer Standards” that is a bit of a struggle. Somehow, Fredette still managed to exceed his season average and score 29 points. He was 16-of-16 from the free-throw line.

Because of Fredette’s struggles, especially in the first half, the rest of the Cougars were forced to step up. They did just that. Jackson Emery scored 15, Stephen Rodgers put in 12 and Charles Abouo had 10.

It was a huge step for BYU’s role players. They proved to the world that they are capable of leading the Cougars when Fredette struggles.

From a defensive standpoint, BYU played extremely well. They held UNLV to just 30 percent shooting from the field in a very physical game.

The game was physical from the beginning. A few early scuffles led to two UNLV technical fouls. Throughout the duration of the game, both sides were jawing back and forth with each other. The most exciting of the trash talking came from Fredette and Willis.

Willis had been saying things to Fredette all game, and finally after the game was out of reach, Fredette said something back. It was an incredible display of emotion and Fredette demanded the ball to go one-on-one against Willis. Fredette took Willis right to the hole for a lay in that was followed by more trash talk between the two of them.

Fredette really reached a new level of greatness in my eyes today. He proved that he is more than just the scoring point guard that Willis accused him of being. He had seven assists in the box score and at least four other great passes that led to fouls or were simply missed by his teammates.

While sitting in the Marriott Center, I asked myself, “Why is Jimmer so good?” During pregame warm-ups, I think I got my answer.

About an hour-and-a-half before the game, BYU came out to get loose. The student section was already in their seats and cheered for each of the Cougars as they came on to the court one by one. Some players acknowledged the crowd with a simple wave or head nod while others came in smiling and pumping their arms and really getting into it. But when Fredette came in, he was all business.

Even an hour-and-a-half before the game, Fredette got right down to what he needed to do. He went through a shooting routine, shooting 15 quick shots from several different spots on the floor. In that shootaround, Fredette shot more shots than any of the other players.

After that, the team started to shoot layups. After each shot or rebound, Fredette would run back to his spot in line. There was no fancy pass behind his back to the next guy, but rather, he gave the next guy the ball, jogged to the half-court line and stepped on it and took his place in line. Every other player would cut the corner and just get back in line.

The actual process of getting back into line, means nothing. Because Fredette ran the extra three feet to the half-court line isn’t what seperates him from other players. However, it was enough to show me that Fredette never cut corners. He has worked harder than anyone to become the player that he is. Because of all those extra efforts, Jimmer Fredette is a great, great player.

Overall, it was an impressive game for BYU and a tough loss for UNLV in a game that Fredette became the Mountain West Conference all-time leading scorer.

What do you think of BYU’s chances this year? How far can they go? How great is Jimmer? Comment and let me know and as always, if you enjoy this article be sure to “like” it and share it with others.

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