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Morning links: BYU's NCAA Tournament chances looked at; Coach, AD defend Damian Lillard

Will Maupin of SBNation's Mid-major Madness released his West Coast Conference basketball Power Rankings and the BYU Cougars landed in the familiar No. 3 spot once again.

Talking about the Cougars' 9-4 nonconference schedule, he writes, "Last season, also with a 9-4 nonconference record, they missed the NCAA Tournament. We’re far enough into this season to say with certainty that they’re on the same track again and might need to win the WCC Tournament to snag a bid."

After talking about how the Cougars fared in their tougher games, he then turns his attention to conference play, saying, "They’ll get four more shots at quality wins in WCC play, but if that 1-3 record isn’t enough now, a 1-3 record against Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s won’t bolster the resume much either."

On the positive side, Maupin did have Yoeli Childs on his Team of the Week, saying, "After moving into the starting lineup seven games ago, Childs has blossomed. The freshman averaged 13.5 rebounds over two games last week."


Weber State athletic director, Trail Blazers coach fire back at George Karl over Damian Lillard comments

George Karl has been all over the sports news thanks to things he said about former players in his upcoming book. He was back in the news after making comments about who is to blame for the Portland Trail Blazers struggles of late in a New York Magazine piece by David Marchese.

While talking about what Karl thinks is wrong with the Portland Trail Blazers, Karl says, "My conclusion is that Damian Lillard is getting too much attention."

After Marchese asks Karl what makes him think that, Karl responds by saying, "Who controls the team? The coach and the point guard. And that team is not working. I think their coach, Terry Stotts, is a great coach. So I’m going to say the problem is Lillard. They were a together, connected, committed team last year. This year they’re not. What changed?"

It didn't take long for some very high-profile defenders to step forward as both Stotts and Weber State athletic director Jerry Bovee spoke out of behalf of Lillard.

Stotts didn't mince words talking about Karl's comments on Lillard in a video from CSN Northwest shared on Bleacher Report's Twitter page.

Bovee also had some very pointed words for Karl.


BYU's football potential looked at

Chris Hummer of 247 Sports looked at the potential of the BYU football team in 2017 with the return of quarterback Tanner Mangum.

After talking about the ending of the 2016 season, Hummer writes, "Cardiac palpitations were common for the Cougar faithful in Kalani Sitake’s debut season as head coach. Moving into Year 2, as the Poinsettia Bowl showcased, BYU is set up to be a dangerous team in 2017."

Hummer then looked at some of the returning players that help make the Cougars dangerous, saying, "Mangum had a remarkable freshman season in the same role, and he finished 2016 completing 66.7 percent of his passes with a 3-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio."

Hummer continued, "The Cougars won’t return an overwhelming amount of talent, but four-fifths of the offensive line is scheduled to be back along with all but one member of the team’s starting linebacker/defensive back corp."

He then goes on to break down how the Cougars did in their toughest games from this season before turning his focus to what the Cougars have on the schedule in 2017, and what a good start could mean, saying, "With a neutral site game against LSU and home games against Utah, Wisconsin and Boise State, the schedule sets up favorably for the Cougars. BYU will have to travel to Mississippi State, but if it can get through a front-loaded first half of the season (all of those games occur before Oct. 15) it’ll have a potential playoff argument."

Jay Yeomans is a sports writer for DeseretNews.com. Contact him at jyeomans@deseretdigital.com.