Steve Alford has high praise for Jimmer

In his own right, former Indiana guard Steve Alford has made his own mark on college basketball both as a player and coach.

This is Alford’s take on Jimmer Fredette at the interview table after the BYU senior broke a ton of records in his 52-point performance in the Cougars’ semifinal MWC tournament win over New Mexico Friday night.

This is how the Q and A developed:

Q. You were a great scorer. You played with great scorers. What was going through your mind first half, second half when Jimmer was going off?

COACH ALFORD: He’s very special. Everyone knows that. The country knows that. Special players can have special evenings like this, especially in March. He had one of ’em. He took great shots. He got into rhythm.

I think the tough part was right at the start of the game when we give BYU three offensive rebounds and a scorer like that gets a layup to get in rhythm. He just kind of went from that layup, kept moving out just a little bit further on each shot from there.

But he had a special night. He did it – I’m looking here – with one free throw attempt. That’s really unusual. I think we’ve done a good job of keeping him off the free-throw line all three games. That’s one of the things we try to do, keep him off the free-throw line.

But to get 52 and to do it without getting to the free-throw line, just one time, speaks volumes to how talented he was. I think we had five different guys guard him. We tried running some people at him. I think we’ve won the other two because we haven’t let the role players and a couple other players hurt us.
We were going to stay with that had Dairese been okay, our adjustment in the second half was to stay with that. We thought even if he got to 50, we hope he didn’t get to 50, but if he got to 50, we’d still have the game probably in the 70s and we were scoring well.

We weren’t going to make too many adjustments on him. I thought that worked. It’s worked before. But he had a pretty special night. He was very, very difficult to guard. From a fan standpoint, that’s a pretty special evening to be a part of.

Q. I’ve heard people say his footwork, a million different things. Do you see anything unique about his ability that you haven’t seen in other players?

COACH ALFORD: I think a lot of people talk about hands when you talk about a basketball player. With Jimmer, he has incredible footwork. He really, really has a unique ability to catch and pivot. He’s got a great step-through move. He’s got a great shot fake. When you can make shots and you understand the shot fake, you really become dangerous. He really utilizes the shot fake well.

He’s got the ball in his hands as lot, so he’s very good with his ball skills. When you shoot it like he does, the better ball handling and footwork you have, he’s always had that ability to create space.

You look at him tonight, we put Dairese on him, Dairese is all defensive team, one of the best defenders we’ve had in four years because of his strength, so you put strength on him, he can put away from that. You put length on him like Tony Snell, he can get away. We put quickness on him like Kendall, he can get away from that.

That’s a special talent no matter how strong, athletic, big, small, you throw at him, he still has that unique ability to create space to get his shot. I think that has to do with footwork.

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