Gonzaga's stars outplayed BYU's stars, and it wasn't close
I wrote a note for The Tribune's college basketball page last Wednesday about the race to be the WCC's most valuable player this season, and surmised it was between a couple of players who weren't even on the all-WCC preseason team, BYU's Tyler Haws and Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk. Well, Olynyk pretty much answered that debate on Thursday night as the Zags crushed the Cougars 83-63 in Spokane. Olynyk couldn't have played better. If it were baseball, they would have called it a perfect game: 9-for-9 from the field, 8-for-8 from the free-throw line, nine rebounds, five assists, a blocked shot and a steal. He did have three turnovers as the Zags turned it over 19 times. The 7-footer played 31 minutes and did not commit a foul. Remarkable. As for Haws, it was probably the worst game he has played in his life. Can't say that for sure because he was not brought out of the locker room for postgame interviews, despite being requested. "They did a good job guarding him," said BYU coach Dave Rose. "They were really physical with him. It was tough to get the ball to him in spots where he is comfortable. Every catch he made was in a spot where it was just a little bit out of where he likes, and the rhythm he likes to be in. You gotta give them credit. They did a really good job, played a really good game." Not only did Haws go 0-for-9, he also committed two turnovers and did not have an assist. He did have a steal and four rebounds. "We typically play through the same few guys and tonight that didn't happen," Rose said. "I think that put us a little out of our heads because we gain confidence through guys like Brandon [Davies] and Tyler. Luckily, Josh [Sharp] stepped up for us and he ended up having a great game." Here are more comments from Rose, Brandon Davies and Josh Sharp that did not make it into my game reports or notes last night: Rose on Josh Sharp's game: "I think Josh was the guy that was kinda let free. They were running guys at Ty, so we got the ball to Josh and Josh made some big plays, got to the free throw line. His minutes were limited because of foul trouble. I thought he played really hard and really effective." Rose on the bad start (comment distributed by BYU): "I thought the first half was a real struggle for us and we were frustrated. The game was physical and we didn't execute our game plan. In the second half, we improved quite a bit and that will help us with our confidence. We just need to come out stronger. We got rushed in the first half and didn't get the shots we wanted." Sharp on what went wrong at the start:"I mean, there are a lot of things. I am sure our coaches are going to look at film and let us know. They are a great team, though. And they went out and they hit a good percentage. I think on defense we need to make them hit harder shots. And then offensively we just need to get it going in the first half."Sharp on why the offense struggled in the first half:"They were very physical and we just got to learn to work through that. We got some shots that normally fall. They just didn't tonight." Sharp on the environment and whether playing in "The Kennel" was difficult: "They have a great student section, but when you are in the middle of a game, you don't really notice it." Sharp on how Gonzaga shut down Tyler Haws:"They were chasing him around all night, just not letting him get anything easy at all, right from the get-go." Davies on BYU's bad start: "A lot of that is my fault. I had a lot of opportunities to make plays, and didn't. From turnovers to bad decision making on my part, things weren't going our way, and they were making plays, and we weren't." Davies on how Olynyk and Harris had great games:"They are both great players. They are both elite guys, and you gotta give them a lot of credit. It was a physical game throughout the whole stretch of it, and they just continued to battle and they are deep as well. They got bigs that can come in and hold their own. That's what good teams have."