Jimmer Fredette’s 52-point outburst yesterday against New Mexico in the Mountain West Conference semi-finals obviously highlighted his ability to score, but it also continued an upward trend on his ability to take shots. Since Brandon Davies went down, Fredette has taken a whopping 47% of BYU’s shots while he’s in the game. That the kind of involvement that’s unsustainable over the long haul – or is it?
On the season, Fredette took 36.9% of BYU’s shots entering the tournament, which ranked him third in the country. Maintaining a level close to 50% over the course of a season would be unthinkable, but perhaps it’s possible over the course of a month under unusual circumstances. Brandon Davies was the Cougars second-most frequent shooter and Fredette has taken on almost all of the shots Davies’ left behind. Fredette’s done it for four games with mixed results. Obviously, the results against the Lobos were explosive.
Thanks to Fredette’s scoring ability, any decline in BYU’s play (and there has been some) since Davies was dismissed can be attributed to the defensive end, where BYU has struggled in each of the last four games. This is not entirely on Davies – Dave Rose has elected to play much more zone, partly in order to hide Jimmer on defense and conserve his energy since he’s not going to sit in any game from here on out, and he’s become options 1, 2, and 3 offensively. The trade-off of a less effective defense for a maximum offensive efficiency may be worth it.
The Jimmer-powered offense has had two successes in the last four games. It seems that given the defensive woes, and the limited interior options on offense, Fredette’s going to do whatever he can to get his, even if Steve Fisher employs the more aggressive approach to defending Fredette that he used in the most recent meeting between the two clubs.
On Saturday, Jimmer went 22-of-37 from the field and everyone else went 11-of-31. Dave Rose admitted after the New Mexico game that Fredette “takes a lot of bad shots”. And it appears as though Fredette is more willing to hoist 27-foot jumpers lately whereas they once were a novelty. Nonetheless, that might be BYU’s best hope for survival. It’s possible at this point that Fredette’s bad shots are better options than some of his teammates’ good ones. It will be interesting to see if Steve Fisher agrees with that or not. Steve Alford didn’t, and for one night, he paid the price.