Checking In On… the WCC

Posted by rtmsf on January 5th, 2012

Michael Vernetti is the West Coast Conference correspondent for RTC.

Reader’s Take 


Looking Back

  • Along with greater strength at the top through the addition of Brigham Young, the WCC was supposed to exhibit league-wide improvement in 2011-12. At least in the early stages of conference play, that hasn’t happened. In fact, the gap between the haves and the have-nots appears to be widening.
  • Opening games in WCC play found Gonzaga throttling Portland at home by a score of 90-51, Saint Mary’s skunking Pepperdine in Malibu by 74-45 and BYU beating San Diego at home by 88-52. That’s an average beat-down of 35 points, not indicative of a conference trending toward parity. In games not involving the league’s Big Three of Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and BYU, Pepperdine beat San Francisco at home by a score of 77-61 and Loyola Marymount also topped San Francisco in overtime by 77-76. Completing a week of total futility, San Francisco’s loss to Loyola came on its home court.
  • Santa Clara spent last week splitting games in its own Cable Car Classic, topping Eastern Michigan by 77-55 and losing to Wagner 64-62 in a game so surreal it deserves a paragraph of its own (see below). Santa Clara is one of the WCC teams thought to be gaining in stature, but will have to wait until tonight to taste its first league action against Portland in Portland. The Broncos have given fans equal reason to have hopes for resurgence or despair  in non-conference play, balancing wins over New Mexico and Villanova with losses to Washington State (93-55 – it was the margin of defeat not the opponent that made this one sting) and Houston Baptist (72-71). The Broncos do not have a road win this year, giving Portland hopes for a chance to stop its own bleeding in tonight’s game.

Talented Senior Rob Jones Has Sparked An Excellent Start For St. Mary's (SF Chronicle)

Power Rankings

  1. Saint Mary’s (13-2 overall, 2-0 in WCC play): Continued its post-Baylor rise with an eye-opening throbbing of BYU in Moraga by the unlikely score of 98-82, then followed up with a thorough dispatch of Pepperdine, which may have harbored hopes of an upset after beating San Francisco by 16 in its league opener. Close observers of the Gaels concede strong games every outing from senior forward Rob Jones (14.1 PPG, 10.5 RPG) and junior point guard Matthew Dellavedova (14.3 PPG, 6.5 APG), but say lesser-known players Clint Steindl, Stephen Holt and Jorden Page must step up if the Gaels are to be an NCAA team. They’re stepping, as Holt has had games of 16, 21 and 14 points since a relatively quiet performance against Baylor, and Page has had three double-digit outings of his own (10, 13 and 14 points) over the same span. Steindl hasn’t been stepping anywhere since turning an ankle against Missouri State. Read the rest of this entry »
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Don’t Sleep On Saint Mary’s in the WCC

Posted by AMurawa on January 2nd, 2012

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences. He filed this report from Saturday’s game between Saint Mary’s and Pepperdine.

When you talk about the West Coast Conference, generally the beginning, middle and end of the conversation revolves around Gonzaga – and rightfully so, as the Bulldogs have now won at least a share of 11 straight conference titles. And with the addition of BYU to the WCC this offseason, the Cougars jumped right to the top of the list of the biggest challengers to the Zags’ throne. But there’s that little school in Moraga, you know, Saint Mary’s, the one that most recently made a Sweet Sixteen run itself in 2010, and this week served notice that they’re a force to be reckoned with and every bit as likely to win the conference title as their other two, more famous, competitors.

Jorden Page, Saint Mary's

Jorgen Page Has Taken Advantage Of Some Newfound Playing Time To Make A Case For A Larger Role (photo credit: Tod Fierner)

Thursday night, BYU kicked off its stay in the WCC by traveling to McKeon Pavilion and promptly getting taken apart by the Gaels. While the Cougs’ talented forward Brandon Davies took advantage of the SMC frontline to the tune of 28 points on 18 field goal attempts, Gael senior forward Rob Jones went a long way toward counteracting Davies’ performance, tossing in 24 points of his own while grabbing 15 rebounds and handing out four assists. But it was the Gael backcourt that shone the brightest this weekend, not only in the win Thursday, but in their 29-point takedown of Pepperdine in Malibu on Saturday. Against BYU, the three-man backcourt of junior Matthew Dellavedova and sophomores Stephen Holt and Jorden Page combined for 52 points, 18 assists and 11 rebounds, while hitting 9-of-17 from deep. On Saturday it was 44 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds on 7-of-14 from three. Given that the trio of guards are really the only guards on the Gaels’ 11-man roster, head coach Randy Bennett needs to make sure he can get consistent production out of those three. And so far he has.

Page got his first chance to start for the Gaels this week, as senior forward Clint Steindl injured an ankle against Missouri State just before Christmas and remains out, but the Gaels didn’t skip a beat. Page was impressive throughout the weekend, but especially against Pepperdine he provided an early spark for the team, hitting two threes on the Gaels first four possessions and never looking back from there. Not only can he knock down the long balls, but he is terrific off the dribble, either creating for himself or finding his teammates spotting up. “He’s just touching the surface of what he can do,” Bennett said after the game Saturday. “We see him in practice, so we know what he can do, but he’s a guy that needs minutes. He’s at his best when he can get loose a little bit, make shots, and have some freedom. And with Clint out, he’s been able to do that.”

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Set Your TiVo: 12.16.11 to 12.18.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 16th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

With Dead Week mercifully over, we finally have some good games to enjoy this Saturday despite Sunday being a very slow day in the hoops world.

#6 Baylor @ BYU – 2:00 PM EST Saturday on BYU TV (****)

Perry Jones Leads Baylor into Provo Saturday (AP)

  • The Bears have had difficulty on the road in past seasons but they already passed one important test, demolishing Northwestern in Chicago a couple weeks ago. This game, however, will be an even better measure to see where the highly-rated Bears are really at. The Marriott Center is a notoriously difficult place to play but Baylor has a clear talent edge in this game. BU welcomes Gary Franklin, now eligible after the first semester, to an already highly skilled roster. Franklin didn’t play all that well at California last season but he was a four star recruit out of high school. He should help the Bears out at the point guard position, a place where turnovers are still an issue. Baylor averages 16 turnovers a game and that will be dangerous playing on the road against a team like BYU that likes to push the pace. 5.8 of those 16 turnovers come from the point guard position so Scott Drew is hoping that Franklin can help handle the ball. How Franklin will fit in alongside Pierre Jackson and A.J. Walton remains a question mark.
  • BYU’s top six scorers are all 6’5” or taller, an important factor against the length and athleticism of Baylor’s front line. Noah Hartsock, Brandon Davies and Charles Abouo do the bulk of the damage for Dave Rose, as those three are his top scorers and rebounders. Hartsock in particular has been outstanding, scoring in double figures in every game thus far. All three will have to play well in order for BYU to pull the upset because Baylor’s front court is strong, deep and talented. With Quincy Acy blocking 3.3 shots a game, BYU’s big men should find it more difficult to score inside on Saturday. The Cougars have to get their outside game going as well. Baylor’s defense is very average against the three and BYU has three big deep threats, Abouo, Stephen Rogers and Brock Zylstra. Going up against the top-ranked interior defense in the nation, BYU needs its outside shots to fall in order to win. However, the Cougars can’t afford to settle for threes if they aren’t falling. They must get something going in the paint, even against such a strong defense, in order to balance out their offense.
  • This is an important game for both clubs. Baylor has played only two teams of note so far while BYU’s best win is over a mediocre Oregon team. Baylor shoots well (49.1% FG) but the biggest difference this season has been its defense. The Bears allow only 33.3% shooting inside the arc and their defensive efficiency has been terrific. Both teams get most of their offense from their respective front courts but Baylor may have the ultimate edge with Cory Jefferson off the bench. He adds some scoring punch and, more importantly, rebounding and depth for the Bears. For the Cougars to win, they’ll have to force turnovers to get points in transition because it’ll be awfully tough to score inside in the half court. In addition to making its threes, BYU must rebound well and get to the line while putting the Baylor big men in foul trouble. However, BYU ranks #295 in free throw rate and Baylor doesn’t foul too often. Although BYU rarely loses at home, this is a game Baylor can win. There are some who still doubt the Bears but a win here would put them on their way towards legitimate national recognition.

Texas A&M vs. #10 Florida (at Sunrise, FL) – 2:30 PM EST Saturday on FSN (***)

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BYU’s Brandon Davies Keeps His Profile Low, Productivity High

Posted by rtmsf on December 8th, 2011

Kraig Williams is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Wednesday night’s game between BYU and Weber State in Provo.

You don’t have to be a huge college basketball fan to know the story of Brandon Davies last season. As the calendar turned from February to March, BYU was America’s darling. The team was ranked #3 in the nation and had vanquished conference foe and #4 San Diego State on the road in its last outing.

Davies Is Back on the Team and Keeping a Low Profile (Salt Lake Tribune)

The national spotlight that had shown so brightly on BYU quickly turned into an interrogation lamp with the news that Davies had been kicked off the team and out of school for an honor code violation. The violation was widely reported as him having premarital sex with an undetermined female. [ed. note: the actual facts surrounding the honor code violation remain unknown to us at this time, and we make no further claim as to the identification this female or any other sexual partner.] Something that would be so commonplace at many colleges and universities around the country ended Davies season in March and consequently sparked a firestorm of national debate regarding BYU’s honor code. Without him in the post,  the Cougars still went on to have a dream season before being knocked out in the Sweet Sixteen by Florida.

Whether you believe Davies deserved the punishment or not, he accepted it without complaint.  After the season ended, Davies quietly went about getting himself reinstated to the university and did just that and on August 26 when he was readmitted for the fall semester. When BYU had its first exhibition game against Midwestern State in late October, Davies was noticeably cheered louder than the rest of the starting lineup. The BYU faithful had forgiven and forgotten, his sins had been redeemed, and basketball could again become the focus.

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Life After Jimmer: How Has BYU Moved On This Season?

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2011

Kraig Williams is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from the Oregon vs. BYU game on Saturday.

Both figuratively and literally, the shadow of Jimmer Fredette looms large over the BYU program.  Last year’s National Player of the Year has not missed a Cougar game yet this season. Fredette has taken up a permanent spot behind the BYU bench while waiting for his professional career to begin later this month with the Sacramento Kings. From the best seat in the house, Jimmer watched the new-look Cougars easily handle Oregon at Energy Solutions Arena on Saturday, 79-65.

The Looming Presence of Jimmer Hangs Over the BYU Program

It would be natural to assume that the Cougars would struggle to replace the offense of a guy who led the nation in 2010-11 with nearly 29 points a contest. Early into the new season, though, you wouldn’t even know the difference looking at the numbers. When looking at the tempo-free statistics, the BYU offense has hummed right along. The Fredette-led Cougars were the nation’s 16th most efficient offense last year, averaging 1.102 points per possession. In early results this year, BYU has slipped all the way down to 1.101 points per possession. That .001 loss moves them to 29th in the nation this year. Dave Rose’s team plays a little bit slower than last year’s run-and-gun model (down to 70 possessions from 72 last year), and consequently it doesn’t average quite as many points. However, that is more likely just the result of games against Utah State and Wisconsin early in the season, two of the slowest-paced schools in the country.

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Morning Five: 11.10.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 10th, 2011

  1. After the ongoing fiasco at Penn State we have become a little numb to old-fashion college sports scandals, but Central Florida appears to be embroiled in a pretty big one. Yesterday, the NCAA delivered its 16-page notice of allegations to the school, which led athletic director Keith Tribble to resign and men’s basketball coach Donnie Jones to be suspended for three conference games. According to reports, the NCAA is alleging that a recruiter for a sports agency paid for tuition and travel expenses for players and recruits. The recruiter and his associate reportedly brought in six basketball players and five football players to the program with Jones and other high-level people in the UCF program being aware of the illegal actions and doing nothing about it. On the bright side for Jones, he was the only one who was not cited for an ethics violation (lying to the NCAA). As Mike Bianchi writes, “At least it’s not Penn State.”
  2. When BYU suspended center Brandon Davies for violating its “Honor Code” last season plenty of people chimed in with their thoughts on the matter, but one person we had not heard from was Davies himself. That is until yesterday. For his part, Davies claims to feel that he was “definitely treated more than fair”. While some will argue with this saying that Davies does not really have any choice but to say that we would argue like we did last March that Davies entered into the contract knowing what the expectations were and that he broke that contract so he should have expected repercussions.
  3. Speaking of contracts that may carry repercussions, yesterday was the first day that recruits could sign their National Letter of Intent. Despite our warning, many top recruits signed these documents that are only binding on their end, but not binding for the university or the coach. Things went about as expected with Arizona being the big winner. One surprise was that Gary Harris, one of the top shooting guards in the class, committed to Michigan State spurning his home state schools (Indiana and Purdue).
  4. In September, we introduced you to Damiene Cain, the highly touted recruit who turned down a Division I basketball scholarship to focus on academics. It turns out that we may have been wrong as now Cain might end up playing for Colorado and that medical issues may have been the actual reason that he left the team in the first place. Normally, we would expect a coach to hesitate to take a player back if he had left the team previously unless he really did leave for medical reasons, but Tad Boyle could really use some help inside and Cain would certainly add some depth on a thin Colorado team. We don’t expect Boyle to make a decision for a few weeks so don’t be surprised if Cain isn’t in a Colorado uniform until after conference play begins.
  5. What happens when you are really bad at your job? You probably get fired and hope to collect your pension assuming that some idiotic portfolio manager has not made some bad investments. In the world of corporate America and big-time college sports that is not always the case. Take Jeff Capel, the former coach at Oklahoma, who was fired this year after back-to-back losing seasons (in the post-Blake Griffin era where it is a lot harder to win without a player who is twice as good as everybody else on the court). Documents released yesterday revealed that in addition to collecting four extra months of salary after being fired in March, Capel also received two additional payments in excess of $1.75 million. The four extra months of salary and an additional $1.25 million (his base salary over the five years remaining on his contract) were part of his original contract, but we are not sure where the extra $504,000 came from and apparently the school is unwilling to release any additional information about his buyout. Nice work if you can get it.
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Morning Five: 05.17.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 17th, 2011

  1. Late last night news broke that Arizona point guard Lamont “Momo” Jones had decided to transfer and was likely headed back to the New York City area. Although Jones has not issued a statement about his transfer, Arizona coach Sean Miller has confirmed the reports that was indeed transferring. There has been plenty of speculation about why he was transferring, but much of it has centered around either his desire to go home to be near a sick family relative (reportedly his grandmother) or the logjam in a Arizona backcourt that will be loaded even without Jones, who averaged 9.7 PPG and 2.4 APG as a sophomore. We will have more on this story throughout the day as it develops.
  2. Later today Valparaiso is expected to name Bryce Drew as the successor to his father Homer Drew as the next coach of the program that he helped make famous. This is not the first time that Homer has stepped aside to let his son take over the program. In 2002, Homer stepped aside to let Scott Drew take over as coach at VU, but he stayed there just one year before leaving to take over at Baylor following the Dave Bliss era. Homer stepped back into his previous position where he has remained despite failing to make the NCAA Tournament for the past seven seasons. Bryce has served as an assistant at the school since 2005, but is best known for his miraculous shot against Mississippi in the 1st round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament and leading them to the school to its only Sweet 16 appearance.
  3. Last summer UNLV had to deal with domestic violence charges against its top returning scorer (Tre’Von Willis) and it appears that this summer it will have to deal with DUI charges against its top returning scorer (Chace Stanback). Stanback was arrested early on Friday near the Thomas & Mack Center on suspicion of driving under the influence. He is out of custody and is expected to appear in court on August 11. It will be interesting to see how new coach Dave Rice deals with the arrest both before and after the court appearance. Rice comes from a strict program at BYU (remember Brandon Davies), but he was also on the Jerry Tarkanian teams of the early 90s that had a more laissez-faire approach to punishment.
  4. One of the bigger stories in the college basketball world yesterday was Dana O’Neill’s story about former Villanova guard Will Sheridan publicly announcing that he was a homosexual. While we understand that this will be a big story and undoubtedly generate a lot of page views for ESPN, we are looking forward to the day when this isn’t even a story. The column itself is pretty interesting and takes an in-depth look at Sheridan’s life after Villanova, but the most interesting thing to us is that his teammates knew about it and didn’t seem to care. In our mind, that seems to be the biggest obstacle for a player “coming out” while they are still active. The fear of being ostracized seems to be within the realm of possibility and we have to applaud the Villanova players who were aware of it for how they handled “the news” and never let it get out or seem to bother them as we have seen with the recent Kobe Bryant controversy that there are still many ingrained attitudes about homosexuality that may be difficult to break in the world of sports.
  5. President Obama welcomed the national champion UConn Huskies to the White House. Unlike some recent championship ceremonies this one was without controversy although Kemba Walker apparently had a tough time getting there as he missed one flight and had another flight delayed before eventually finding his way to Washington, DC. The ceremony itself was fairly mundane except for a few jokes that Obama made about how UConn reminded him of his busted bracket (he picked Kansas to win) and his difficulty with the name of Adolph Rupp.
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Morning Five: 04.25.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 25th, 2011

  1. At Midnight ET last night, the NBA’s draft entry deadline passed.  Although we won’t know for certain all the players who announced their intentions to test the waters until the league releases its certified list later this week, there were a few others over the weekend who announced they’re going to give it a shot.  Texas stars Jordan Hamilton and Cory Josephannounced that they would join teammate Tristan Thompson in the draft pool, with the latter two electing to not sign with an agent.  Thompson (along with Hamilton) is projected as a top 20 pick and is expected to stay in the draft, while Joseph is in a more precarious spot.  If he doesn’t appear to become a first-rounder, we’d expect to see him back in Austin next season to team with Myck Kabongo to form one of the best backcourts in all of college basketball.  Another late addition to the draft pool was Georgetown small forward Hollis Thompson, a bit of a surprise to most observers but one which nearly everyone expects will be a temporary situation — he has not signed with an agent and is not projected as a  first or second round pick on any major draft board at this time.
  2. Miami (FL) confirmed on Friday evening that Jim Larranagawould be their new head coach, taking over for Frank Haith.  While some have derided the age of Larranaga as a major barrier to the rebuilding project in Coral Gables, Mike DeCourcy doesn’t believe that will matter much.  He cites Jim Calhoun, Coach K, and Roy Williams as the last three national championship coaches, all of whom are in Larranaga’s age bracket, but we think he fails to adequately recognize that it will take the 61-year old coach at least a year or two to get his feet wet recruiting in South Florida.  While it’s true that he’ll inherit a solid Hurricane team with most of its top players back, the group finished ninth last season in a historically bad ACC, and we’re of the opinion that younger go-getters such as Steve Donahue (BC), Brad Brownell (Clemson) and Brian Gregory (Georgia Tech) are better positioned to move up the conference ladder in coming years.
  3. We know that you were waiting with baited breath on the ruling from the Indiana Supreme Court on how the NCAA handles its public ticket sales for the Final Four, and the decision came down Friday.  You will be thrilled to learn that the court found in a unanimous ruling that the NCAA’s lottery method of selecting the chosen few to dole out $150 for ducats to the sport’s marquee event is not illegal.  A similar case currently sits at the federal level in the 7th Circuit US Court of Appeals, but no ruling has been made in that one yet.
  4. UConn sophomore Jamal Coombs-McDanielwas arrested along with two other individuals for possession of 5.6 grams of marijuana in a dorm room on Thursday night.  That night was the kickoff to an annual UConn rite known as Spring Weekend, a campus-wide party prior to final exams in coming weeks, and JCD apparently was doing his part to liven the place up.  He faces both a possession and a drug paraphernalia charge for his role in the crimes, and we’d expect to see him doing some hardcore community service in and around Storrs in the near future.
  5. Speaking of players behaving badly, BYU’s Brandon Davies, he of the school honor code violation involving premarital canoodling, is expected to “meet conditions so he’ll be eligible” to return to school for the fall semester.  This is great news for a BYU program facing the losses of NPOY Jimmer Fredette and secondary stars Jackson Emery, Kyle Collinsworth (Mormon mission), and two other players as it moves to the WCC in basketball next year.  Still, Davies’ foul-up (the getting caught part, not the canoodling part, in our estimation) may have cost BYU a trip to its first-ever Final Four, so we’ll be interested to see just how forgiving the Cougar faithful will be when he suits up again.
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Mountain West Report Card

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 5th, 2011


Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Pac-10 conferences. We will be publishing a series of conference report cards over the next week for conferences that got multiple NCAA bids to recap the conference, grade the teams, and look at the future for the conference.

Conference Recap: It was a banner year for the Mountain West despite the turbulence of the offseason that will see two of the standard-bearers of the conference (Utah and BYU) leave for arguably greener pastures this summer with TCU following them out the door the following summer. The two teams leading the conference this season, BYU and San Diego State, posted a combined 66-8 record this year and were constants in the national top ten making the Sweet 16 before bowing out in tight contests. In addition to having two of the country’s top teams the conference also had arguably the nation’s top player in BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, who led the country in scoring, regularly producing eye-popping, shake-your-head-in-disbelief moments and becoming a household name in Utah and beyond. UNLV joined the conference leaders in the NCAA Tournament, but tripped up in ugly fashion before losing head coach Lon Kruger to Oklahoma over the weekend. Colorado State and New Mexico had their hopes pinned on NCAA Tournament bids, but came up a little short. Nevertheless, this was undoubtedly the biggest collection of talent in the history of this conference and likely the high water mark. While there is not a whole lot of love lost between either followers of the conference or executives in the MWC and BYU, there is little doubt that the loss of both of the Utah schools from its ranks will leave a major hole.

It was clearly the year of the Jimmer in the Mountain West

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.24.11

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 24th, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.


  • Often overlooked due to the star power that Ohio State has accumulated during his career, David Lighty has been the heart and soul of this season’s Buckeyes. The fifth-year senior will leave Columbus with three Big Ten championships, an NIT championship, and four trips to the NCAA Tournament.
  • Kentucky head coach John Calipari believes that other programs “Want to be us. Not beat us.” While that statement may seem a bit arrogant, it does make sense when thinking about the pageantry and tradition that goes along with the Wildcat basketball program.
  • While he does provide Marquette with some scoring, swingman Jimmy Butler prides himself on being a defensive stopper for the Golden Eagles. His coach, Buzz Williams, calls Butler, “the smartest player I’ve ever coached.” High, high praise.
  • North Carolina junior center Tyler Zeller has finally been healthy all season after missing significant time during his first two seasons. A healthy Zeller has been beneficial to the Tar Heels, as he has contributed 15.2 points per game along with 7.1 rebounds. Without Zeller’s presence in the post, UNC would probably not be a Sweet 16-caliber team.
  • Despite already having a tremendous season, Kentucky freshman guard Brandon Knight believes he is just finally living up to the high expectations that come with playing point guard for John Calipari. Interesting enough is that those expectations are not from Calipari, but from Knight himself.


  • Growing up in the shadow of Gene Keady and Bob Knight has not turned Butler head coach Brad Stevens into the same type of loose cannon as the two legendary coaches. Instead, Stevens is known for his calm, steady, and studious approach that he takes to coaching the game of basketball.
  • Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor has been an elite performer all season for the Badgers. This is not surprising when considering that the junior craves for pressure situations where he can showcase his bravado.
  • Florida senior forward Chandler Parsons has gone through quite the maturation process, which has allowed him to fulfill his vast potential. Despite his success, Parsons continues to raise expectations for his team and himself.
  • There is not a team in the nation that is held to the strict honor code that Brigham Young is held to. Despite the loss of big man Brandon Davies due to a violation of this code, the rest of the Cougars have learned to live by its precepts and focus primarily on winning basketball games.
  • After resting his ankle earlier in the week, Florida sophomore guard Kenny Boynton believes he is “100 percent” for Thursday’s game with Brigham Young. Boynton will be an important player for the Gators in slowing down the BYU guard attack.

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