PROVO — No matter how good the defensive strides made have been for the BYU men's basketball team this season, coaches are still mindful of producing better results on the offensive end. For this reason, Cougar coach Dave Rose decided to shake up his starting lineup prior to BYU's 83-63 win over Pepperdine on Thursday.
Zac Seljaas, who hadn't started a game since the Cougars' 95-88 win over Niagara back on Nov. 21, drew the starting assignment in place of Luke Worthington, with the offensive production benefitting as a result. The 83 points scored Thursday was 16 points better than the average total put up through four games in West Coast Conference play.
“That’s our best defensive team, but we’ve played four league games and we haven’t scored 70 points,” Rose said of his prior starting lineup, which had Worthington starting alongside Yoeli Childs in the frontcourt. “So I think we did it to space the floor a little bit, and some of the reason was to get Zac some more confidence, and he’s a really good player, and we really need him.”
Indeed Seljaas provides a much different look than Worthington, given his 6-foot-7 frame and a reliance on perimeter play, as opposed to Worthington working almost exclusively from the post.
Seljaas didn't shoot lights out on Thursday but he did respond by making all three of his shot attempts, while scoring eight points, collecting three rebounds and dishing out four assists with no turnovers in 28 minutes.
“His line tonight was tremendous,” Rose said. “That’s a great line for Zac and hopefully he can get some confidence and build off that. That would be great for our team.”
Worthington managed to play 14 minutes and scored four points and grabbed three rebounds while providing his same, good, active presence on defense, according to his teammates.
“We definitely miss Luke’s presence on the defensive end,” Childs said of Worthington's altered role. “He’s a loud player. He’s always in the right spots, so there’s definitely pros and cons to it, but they’re definitely great players, and me and the rest of the guys are comfortable with either one of them out there.”
DIMINISHING ROLE FOR DASTRUP: For the second straight game coaches limited Payton Dastrup's minutes, with the 6-10 sophomore logging only six minutes during Thursday's win. In the game prior, a 67-66 loss to Pacific, Dastrup played just five minutes, which was in stark contrast to what appeared to be an expanding role after coming on strong in a 77-65 win over Utah back on Dec. 16.
“I think it’s probably production,” Rose said of Dastrup's dwindling minutes. “He had a great couple of weeks when he shot the ball really well and defensively he was really engaged. Then you just look at his numbers, and he’s not playing as well as he was.”
Although the production hasn't been there recently, according to Rose, the hope is he can steadily increase his minutes as he increases his production.
“There’s a lot going (on) with Payton trying to learn everything,” Rose said. “Hopefully we can get some more minutes out of him because we’re already pretty thin and it will be good to get a good rotation with those post guys.”