What a game! The much-anticipated showdown between the ninth ranked Cougars and the Fourth ranked San Diego State Aztecs fully lived up to its lofty billing. Exceptional win for BYU and a reminder to fans everywhere why we love college basketball so much. After the excitement wore off, I had a couple realizations. Some good, some not so good.
The bad news first…BYU is a bad ankle sprain away from being a very average team. The Cougars continue to be a one-man show that’s so exciting it makes you lose track of the fact that one injury to Jimmer would derail the entire dream season. For that matter, one off night for the BYU guard would be enough to stop a NCAA tourney run dead in its tracks. Brandon Davies was BYU’s next highest scorer, but couldn’t remain out of foul trouble long enough to get into a rhythm that would force San Diego State to factor him into their defense. Had Jimmer not shown up huge last night, Cougar nation would be staring a big home loss on the calendar.
Now the good news…Jimmer Freddette has shown zero indication that he will do anything but show up huge in any big game situation imaginable. A cool 43 last night, and this after trailing off in the second half. How clutch is Jimmer? He has the attention of everyone in the sports world. He has called in on SportsCenter, done Five Good Minutes with Kornheiser and Wilbon, and celebrities are tweeting about him like crazy. Recently Sports Illustrated featured an article by Luke Winn devoted entirely to stopping this mad man. (I’m told that San Diego State University computers have access to si.com. So Aztecs, there’s really no excuse). And he drops 43, including clutch scoring to keep BYU close in the first half. He scored from outside, crossing over defenders mercilessly. He slashed to the lane and finished in double coverage. When he pulled up and shot that three (and anyone who watched the game knows which one I’m talking about) my face simultaneously exploded and then pieced itself back together again, fully functional. Watching him makes me giddy. Literally.
But still, it’s hard to watch BYU play and not be a little bit nervous about the single dimension to their team. The games have been so fun that it’s easy to burry this apprehension in the back of your mind like some outrageous interest rate on the loan you took out to buy your new Nissan Z.
But the apprehension remains. What if he comes down too awkwardly after one of those jaw-dropping cuts to the hoop? What happens if some goon gives him an elbow while fighting for a rebound? What happens if he goes ice cold in the first round of the tourney? Who will pick up the scoring slack for BYU? Thus far Jimmer has been so dominant that no other Cougar has found much of an offensive rhythm to the season, although all have been serviceable and even stellar in patches. But clutch with their NCAA tournament lives on the line? That’s a big time “gulp” in my book.
At least we have Jimmer. And March is a time when one phenomenal guard can take you the distance. Thus far, The Jimmer has only shown evidence that he’ll be ready to be called such. Perhaps phenomenal is a gross understatement.