The question was tweeted in to ESPN's Bracketology guru Joe Lunardi last Saturday, from none other than Matt Carlino's little brother Jack. The question was this: "What does BYU need to do to get in (the NCAA Tournament)?" Lunardi's answer was brief, perhaps a little cold, but to the point: "Stop losing to every tourney-level team they play."
Lunardi's response represents the slightest of exaggerations, since BYU owns a win over projected Big Sky Conference tourney rep Weber State, but his point underscores the importance of tomorrow night's game at Gonzaga, particularly in light of last Wednesday's last-second loss to projected tourney entrant St. Mary's.
Of the 68 teams in Lunardi's latest bracket projection, BYU has played five, going 1-4 in the process (win at Weber State, losses at Iowa State, at Baylor, v. Notre Dame and v. St. Mary's), with at least three more games scheduled against the Zags and Gaels. Had the final 2.5 seconds against St. Mary's gone just a little differently, the "no big wins" rap on BYU would have been somewhat muted, and the Cougars would of course have retained their solo lead atop the West Coast Conference. In those respects, Matthew Dellavedova's desperation three-pointer had significant ramifications, but a BYU win in Spokane would all but erase the effects of that shot.
Noting that "their size is an issue...their depth is an issue," BYU head basketball coach Dave Rose met with the media on Tuesday and framed his team's challenge when facing the Gonzaga Bulldogs on the road Thursday night.
Following a 90-minute Marriott Center practice, Rose told reporters that it's as important that his players play well as it is that they play hard.
"This is a really good basketball team," Rose said of the tenth-ranked Zags. "I think our guys are excited to play them."
With apologies to The Spinners, you can just call Dave Rose the "Rubberband Man," for as often as his teams bounce back after setbacks.
Saturday night home to San Diego, the Cougars again demonstrated the resiliency that has been a hallmark of Rose' program since he assumed the head coaching responsibilities in 2005. Three nights after a soul-sapping last-second loss to St. Mary's, BYU welcomed in the WCC-leading Toreros, who despite beating the league's weaker teams, came into the Marriott Center unbeaten in conference play and on a five-game win streak.
After falling behind 10-5 early, the Cougars went on a 34-10 run that essentially closed the deal before halftime, with BYU cruising to a 74-57 decision--Rose's 200th win, on his second try for the milestone.
Two days after his team's last-second stomach punch setback to St. Mary's, BYU head basketball coach Dave Rose met with media at the Marriott Center, reflecting on the loss and previewing Saturday's showdown with WCC-leading San Diego.
"Guys are disappointed," said Rose on Friday, "but they should be. They played hard, they played well, and we actually played well enough to win. Then you don't win, and you've got a lot invested in this, so you want them to have it sting. But by the end of (Thursday's) practice, they were excited, looking forward to the next game and moving on."
The conference season is long, and what happened in game five is often long forgotten by game 15. The BYU Cougars hope that will be the case after Wednesday night's crushing 70-69 home loss to St. Mary's--a game decided when Matthew Dellavedova's last-second 30-footer settled through the hoop as the horn blew at the Marriott Center.
Only seconds before, as Tyler Haws' wrong-foot 10-foot fadeaway gave BYU a two-point lead with 0:02.5 showing on the clock, the Cougars appeared to have cemented a crucial WCC victory, which would also firm up BYU's status on the NCAA Tournament bubble. The win and its implications were wiped out on Dellavedova's daggger.
It will either happen tonight in Provo, or sometime very, very soon: Dave Rose will win his 200th game as BYU's head basketball coach, and only 14 coaches in NCAA history will have reached that victory milestone faster.
Tonight's home game with St. Mary's will be Rose's 258th game as the Cougars' bench boss. He reached 100 wins in only 134 games-—fastest ever for a BYU coach, and particularly impressive considering he took over a program that had gone 9-21 the season before he took over. If BYU is victorious tonight, Rose will have won his next hundred in only 124 games.
It was after his 100th career win that Rose was asked to reflect on the accomplishment, and on the night of Nov. 20, 2009, following BYU's 83-65 victory at Hawai'I, Rose talked of having watched Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim win his 800th career game (Boeheim last month surpassed the 900-win plateau, as Rose approached 200).
BYU's biggest basketball game of the season is set for Wednesday night at the Marriott Center, as the 14-4, 4-0 Cougars host the 13-4, 2-1 Gaels of St. Mary's in a game crucial to both teams' conference crown and NCAA Tournament hopes.
BYU head coach Dave Rose on Tuesday called the Gaels "a team that expects to go on the road and win, and they've been really successful with it...and they were successful in here last year, so hopefully our guys are ready."
On a day when it was learned that two BYU football coaches had been let go, the school Tuesday announced the hiring of two new assistant coaches, with former Cougars Garett Tujague and Mark Atuaia joining the offensive staff; their positional assignments will not be announced until the entire staff is finalized.
In BYU's press release on the new hirings, head coach Bronco Mendenhall said "Garett and Mark have unique skills and experiences and are fine, capable men that I'm counting on to help our players reach their full potential. Each has a history with BYU and a passion to help the program move forward."
A source close to the BYU Football program has confirmed that running backs coach/recruiting coordinator Joe DuPaix and wide receivers coach Ben Cahoon were let go by head coach Bronco Mendenhall on Monday.
Both coaches had completed their second year on Mendenhall's staff. DuPaix came to BYU from Navy, where he had served for three seasons as slotbacks coach. Cahoon joined the BYU staff after a record-setting 13-year career as a wideout in the Canadian Football League. Cahoon also played wide receiver at BYU in 1996 and 1997.
Former offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman has yet to have his coaching status confirmed. I am told that there is a chance Doman could remain on the staff.
For the first time since Jimmer Fredette wore BYU blue, the Cougar hoopsters have won six games in a row--their longest run since BYU put together a seven-game streak near the end of Fredette's senior season in 2010-11.
The sixth win in the current streak was Saturday's 82-64 win at Santa Clara, which was also's BYU's first victory over a top 100 RPI team this season. After losing a nine-point halftime lead and seeing the Kevin Foster-led Broncos forge a 50-all tie with 13:37 to play, the Cougars went on a season-long 18-0 run over a span of six minutes and 10 seconds to put the game away.
Dave Rose has led the BYU basketball team to six consecutive NCAA Tournaments, and in those six seasons, the Cougars played an average of 33 games before Selection Sunday. With 16 games in the books, the Cougars are approaching the halfway pole of the 2012-13 season, and the question arises: is this an NCAA Tournament team?
The current and projected numbers seem to say "yes," but work remains to be done, since the Cougars aren't the mid-season shoo-in to go dancing that they have been in some recent seasons.
BYU is 12-4 through 16 games, and comparing the Cougars' current 16-game record to that of the last six NCAA Tournament entrants shows that the 2012-13 squad is generally in line with those teams.
The Cougar hoopsters accomplished a couple of notable firsts the other night in winning 80-76 at San Francisco: BYU is 2-0 in league play for the first time as a West Coast Conference member, and has its first four-game win streak of the season.
The comeback at USF also represented a somewhat more significant achievement: the Cougars figured out how to win without being able to follow their traditional formula for victory.
Robert Anae is officially back as BYU Football's offensive coordinator; the news was announced by head coach Bronco Mendenhall on Friday afternoon in a school press release.
PROVO — According to a source close to the BYU Football program, Robert Anae will return to serve as the Cougars' offensive coordinator, a little more than two years after he resigned from that post to coach the offensive line and coordinate the run game at the University of Arizona.
BYU center Brandon Davies is on pace to play against Loyola Marymount Thursday night in the Cougars' West Coast Conference opener, five days after spraining his right ankle in a weekend win over Virginia Tech.
The first-to-second degree sprain kept Davies off the practice floor on Monday, with some limited activity on Tuesday. Wednesday, he participated in the team's entire one hour, 40 minute practice at the Marriott Center, with head coach Dave Rose saying Davies' injured ankle "has progressively felt better each day."
"He practiced pretty good today," said Rose. "Hopefully it feels good tomorrow, and we can count on him."
Tyler Haws' career-high scoring effort against Virginia Tech propelled him to his first West Coast Conference Player of the Week honor on Monday.
Haws' 42 points scored against the Hokies are the most scored by any Division I player this season. In two BYU wins last week, Haws averaged 28.5 points per game, while shooting 54% from the field, 75% from the arc, and 91% from the stripe.
It's a belated Christmas present for BYU football fans: linebacker Kyle Van Noy is staying for his senior season with the Cougars, and will not enter the 2013 NFL Draft.
In a press release Monday morning, Van Noy made his decision official:
"I've decided to stay and complete my senior season at BYU," Van Noy said. "I plan to finish what I started and feel like I've still got some unfinished business. I'm looking forward to being on the field this next season with my Cougar teammates."
Saying there are "a lot of undecided spots on our roster, as far as playing time is concerned," BYU head coach Dave Rose anticipates that he'll "probably" change up his starting lineup for Thursday night's home game with Northern Arizona.
After using the same starting quintet for the season's first five games, Rose has since used four different lineups in the ensuing seven games, with only small forward Tyler Haws and center Brandon Davies having started every game.
Matt Carlino has started eight of the 12 games at point guard, and after a brief spell coming off the bench, has re-joined Haws and Davies as an every-game starter. Those three players comprise BYU's "big three," with the trio atop the BYU ledger in points scored and shots taken.
For a BYU record-extending fourth consecutive year, the Cougars head into the offseason coming off a bowl victory. Bronco Mendenhall's team has finished with a winning record for the seventh consecutive season--the longest such run since LaVell Edwards put together a string of 17 straight winning seasons from 1976 through 1992.
But despite the relative consistency of success, all is not well with the Cougars, and there is work to be done--specifically on the offensive side of the ball.
High school hoops phenom Jabari Parker kept BYU in the running until Decision Day, but has announced that he will play his college basketball for Duke University.
|Marriott Center, Provo||12/11 7:00 pm|
|AT&T Park, San Francisco||12/27 7:30 pm|
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