Dave Rose needs every bit of help with the departure of the nation's leading scorer Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery if he wants his team to end the reigns of Gonzaga and St. Mary's atop the West Coast Conference this season. Getting power forward Brandon Davies back from a team and university-imposed suspension alleviates some concerns in replacing over 40 points per game from departed Cougars.
Davies' suspension was national sporting news, but everything else is a mystery moving forward. In the first year in the WCC, Rose's teams the past several seasons have circled around Fredette and Emery in the backcourt as the Cougars have become not only one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country, but perhaps even more surprising, an efficient defensive team as well; over the last three seasons, BYU ranks 13th in the country in adjusted offensive rankings and 29th defensively out of the nation's 345 teams.
But without his two guards, Rose and the Cougars will search for a new identity. This year's team will be much more balanced in terms of frontcourt vs. backcourt scoring. Brandon Davies, with his combination of size and athleticism, is a difficult matchup on the offensive end, will have the offense run through him. Without Fredette garnering as much attention as he did, Davies will have to develop more effective scoring moves, be reliable finishing with contact and increase his sense of court awareness to kick the ball out to an open shooter on the wing or dump the ball off to a fellow big man in the post. Expect senior guard Charles Abouo to take on a bulk of the scoring as well; in a recent trip to Greece, Abouo averaged nearly 15 points and 8 rebounds a game.
The most surprising player has been Brock Zylstra, a little-used guard in his sophomore season a year ago. Zylstra, a 6'6" former walk-on, averaged a team-best 17 points and 6 rebounds on the international trip.
Gonzaga is the class and continuous favorite of the WCC, with Saint Mary's not far behind, but the addition of Davies back to the Cougars' lineup does wonders in closing the gap between the West Coast Conference's powers.