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2016 NIT - Q&A with Steve Pierce at 'Vanquish The Foe' - Creighton-BYU Preview

Steve Pierce writes for the super neat blogsite 'Vanquish The Foe' and answered some pressing questions in preparation for the NIT Quarterfinal between Creighton and BYU.

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1. Kyle Collingsworth has undoubtedly been the best player for BYU this year, what makes him so effective? Is there anyway to stymie his play?

Kyle Collinsworth does everything that there is to do in the game of basketball well — except shoot the ball more than five feet from the basket. He's an incredible unique player, in that his entire game revolves around getting into the paint, which should (in theory) make him easier to stop, but no one has ever really figured out how to stop him. This is likely because he's such an excellent passer that, if you do bring a double (or triple) team, he's going to make you pay by moving the ball and finding his shooters. If you don't, he'll murder you in the paint and on the glass by himself with his size and strength. He's just a freak athlete and an incredibly smart player. Good luck.

2. The BYU faithful tend to fill the Marriott Center come basketball season and even during the NIT it's been raucous, what impact does that have on BYU? What impact does it have on opponents?

BYU hasn't fully filled the Marriott Center yet in the NIT, but I imagine they could get close on Tuesday. Regardless, the Marriott Center is one of the great home court advantages in college hoops. It's just cavernous and huge, much more so than most college arenas, so the sheer size alone can be a little bit imposing for visiting players by itself. Throw 20,000 screaming, crazy fans that boo anything that so much as thinks about opposing their Cougars on top of that? It's a pretty tough place to play.

(Bonus Big East reference: I like to think of it as similar to the scene in Hoosiers when the Hickory team sets foot in Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler for the first time. As Coach Dale says, "It is big.)

3. Dave Rose has been coaching for BYU for about 10 years, what sort of offense does he run? What defense?

BYU doesn't so much run "an offense" as they just run. Whenever possible, Rose prefers his teams to get out in transition and score quickly. As a result, BYU is virtually always in the Top 10 in KenPom's Adjusted Tempo stat (including 8th this year). When they do need to play in the halfcourt, BYU runs a lot of weave actions along the perimeter with their four guard "smallball" lineup, and places a heavy emphasis on the 3-point shot. They're going to take a lot of threes no matter what — and if they're falling, look out.

Defensively, BYU is nowhere near as effective. They've long struggled to form a cohesive defensive identity, and while they've shown the ability to put the clamps on an opponent from time to time, they can't really do it consistently. You'll see a mixture of different looks, including man-to-man, a sort-of matchup 2-3 zone with lots of switching, and a 1-3-1 halfcourt trap, which has probably been their most effective defense this year.

4. Chase Fischer was huge in the win over Virginia Tech, what sort of impact will he have against an up-tempo team like Creighton?

Chase Fischer is the X factor for BYU. If he plays well, BYU is very difficult to beat. If he doesn't, they can be devastatingly mediocre. Like the rest of teammates, Fischer will fare much better in a fast, free-flowing, up-tempo game that suits the Cougars' preferred style of play. If Creighton thinks they're going to try and run with BYU at elevation in the Marriott Center, I'd have one piece of advice for Coach McDermott and crew: Don't.

5. BYU was able to beat Gonzaga in the regular season but dropped games to Long Beach State, Portland, and Pepperdine. What happened in those losses? How did that impact their last stretch of the season?

BYU generally loses due to one (or more) of the following three factors:

1) They defend poorly. This happens frequently, but can be overcome as long as they don't do the next thing too.

2) They shoot poorly from outside. This is usually a bigger problem on the road, but has bitten the Cougars at home too. So much of BYU's offense is dependent on the long ball that, when it stops falling, they can wind up stagnant and ineffective.

3) They miss free throws. This particularly killed them against Long Beach State. BYU is a terrible free throw shooting team this year. In close contests, those misses often come back to haunt them.

6. Kyle Davis mans the paint for BYU, what does he offer the Cougars as far as points in the paint?

Davis is a solid, if unspectacular down-low option. He's got several effective go-to moves that can get him a good shot, even if they don't look pretty. (He's also a very strong rebounder.) He does tend to miss quite a few layups and lacks awareness to pass back out to his teammates when extra help comes, but he's the best option BYU has down low for the time being and has done a fairly admirable job this season

7. I'm not the religious type, but I understand that BYU caters to those who fall into the Church of the Latter-Day Saints. When a ballplayer isn't allowed to have coffee to get energized, how do they manage to prepare for a basketball game?

If you're drinking coffee right before you go out and play a basketball game, you're either European or you're doing it wrong.

(And if you don't want to get endless Twitter corrections from very detail-oriented Mormons, it's the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)

8. Would you rather see Utah State or Utah win a national championship?

As obnoxious as Utah State fans can be and as much as I would hate to see them have any actual success in basketball (which they objectively have not had, no matter what they may try to tell you), I would much rather the Aggies win one than the Utes. If they won a championship, Utah fans would spend the next 40 years lording their title over us endlessly—on Twitter, at church, in the . I only know this because BYU fans have spent the last 32 years doing the exact same thing with our one football national championship. It's the circle of life.

9. If BYU has the ball with under 30 seconds left, down 3, who takes the final shot? Who is most likely to turn it over and completely blow it?

Nick Emery or Chase Fischer would take the final shot, but more likely Emery because he actively wants to perform in those big moments. He seeks out the pressure, whether or not that's a good thing. Because of that, he might also be the one to make a big mistake while doing so. After all, he is still a freshman — but an excellent one at that.

10. What would a NIT championship mean to the people in Provo? Would they flood the streets and celebrate? Would they show up to The Garden?

BYU fans show up wherever their team plays, although that's a little harder in New York, with a lower concentration of Mormons along the East Coast. An NIT title would be welcomed and people would be happy about it, but they'd have to keep any excitement under pretty tight wraps to avoid Utah fans trolling the living daylights out of them for celebrating winning the NIT of all things.

11. BYU shoots a lot of threes - have you seen a defensive scheme work against it well enough to stop that it?

Ask Gonzaga. Lots of extended perimeter pressure. Never let BYU's shooters catch and feel comfortable, even for a second. Stay up underneath them at all times. And never, ever, ever lollygag while getting back in transition. The minute you do, you're dead.

12. Last question, have you ever thought about basketball if it were played without gravity? How do you think BYU would perform in a vacuum?

Probably poorly, because it would make it much harder to move quickly and play up-tempo, right? Plus, it would require a lot less exertion from the other team, which would remove one of BYU's built-in advantages of just wearing out their opponents. All Cougar fans should be grateful that Tuesday's game will be played on Earth, with the rules of gravity out in full force.

Special thanks to Vanquish The Foe and, more importantly, Steve Pierce.