Jeff Call and I are at the Salt Lake International Airport this morning in a quick turn around to get to Dayton, Ohio after Sunday’s selection show and Tuesday’s first round NCAA game with Iona.
This should be an interesting matchup with Iona’s smaller but quicker size against Cougar rebounding and superior post play. A key will be how Noah Hartsock plays and BYU’s guards have to step up on both ends of the court.
I spoke to Hartsock on Sunday and he said he is ready to go, no hesitance in his voice at all. His problem has been a bad ankle, coupled with that nasty twisting fall against Santa Clara that wrenched his knee.
The official photographer for Santa Clara sent me a photo graph of the play in which Hartsock got injured. He grabbed the rebound just before a Santa Clara player crashed into him, hopping on Hartsock’s upper body, placing more than 450 pounds on him as he turned and pivoted.
As Stephen Rogers left the BYU Broadcast Building, I caught his eye and asked how he was doing. “Not good,” he said. Apparently he reinjured his knee in practice late last week.
These injuries have hurt the Cougars. It’s been three years of these at this time of year if you remember Tyler Haws getting hit in the eye in the MWC tournament right before he left for his mission as a freshman. Last year Jimmer Fredette injured his calf muscle before halftime of that overtime loss to Florida and was not the same in the second half and overtime.
If Hartsock is indeed OK, it looms large for Dave Rose. Hartsock is the heart and soul of this team because he is so dependable on both ends of the court.