PROVO — BYU is making its 28th NCAA tournament appearance, and its 21st since seeding was expanded to the entire field in 1979. Of those 21 appearances, 16 have been as an at-large entrant. Until this season, BYU had never received an at-large bid with as many as 11 losses.
So how did 23-11 BYU not only earn a spot in the field, but grab a better-than-expected 10 seed? The answer was in large part earned during the dog days of November and December, when the Cougars were playing a non-conference schedule that would eventually rank among the top five in all of college basketball.
BYU faced eight non-conference opponents which qualified for the NCAA tournament, defeating four of them, with two of the victories coming away from home. If there was any message sent by the selection committee on Sunday, it's that schedule really matters.
PROVO — Last year, Selection Sunday for BYU meant waiting into the evening for an NIT assignment. After six straight years in the NCAA tournament, it was a bit of a shock to the system for the Cougars.
In 2014, BYU's post-WCC tournament wait was rewarded with a 10 seed and a trip to Milwaukee to face the Oregon Ducks in the NCAA tournament's West Region. Dave Rose has led his team back to the Big Dance, for a seventh time in his nine seasons as the Cougars' head coach.
"We're thrilled," said Rose on Sunday, only a couple of hours after the team gathered at his house to watch the annual selection show. "It's a good day."
PROVO — BYU announced Wednesday night that sophomore guard Kyle Collinsworth will have season-ending surgery next week to repair a torn ACL in his right knee.
Collinsworth suffered the injury in the second half of Tuesday night's loss to Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Tournament Championship game.
Collinsworth injured the same knee back on February 15th in Moraga, Calif. against St. Mary's, but was able to return to the game.
With storm clouds swirling around Provo, excitement couldn’t have been any higher as week two of BYU spring practices started Monday.
The excitement wasn’t for the change in weather but for a change in tempo in practice, as both sides of the ball looked more comfortable on the field, especially the defense.
"The offense had a really good day on Friday,” head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “And like what happens most of the time in spring, the defense thought about that over the weekend and it was payback day for them today.”
With BYU's West Coast Conference tournament run opening on Saturday against either Portland or Loyola Marymount, many bracketologists believe BYU is a win or likely two away from cementing an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. At least publicly, BYU head coach Dave Rose isn't buying it.
"I think we probably have to win the (WCC) tournament to get in," said Rose before his team's Thursday practice at the Marriott Center. "That's what our mindset is, so let's take this first game--that's the most important thing; control what you can control. The sure bet is that if we win (the tournament), then we're in a nice spot."
BYU heads to Las Vegas as the two seed in the ten-team tournament; the Cougars will face the winner of Thursday night's Portland-LMU first-round game in Saturday's quarterfinals. The semifinal round is set for Monday night, while the championship game will be played next Tuesday.
On a chilly Wednesday afternoon in Provo, tempers were heated as day two of BYU spring practices turned testy at times.
A handful of scuffles enlivened the closing segments of practice, with head coach Bronco Mendenhall noting that "it could be a world record (for earliest practice scuffles), but that's a good sign."
"I like it (when) neither side will back down. That's our approach in terms of when an opponent comes in, so might as well start now. I like it a lot.
PROVO — After defeating the Toreros of San Diego, 78-70, in a nail-biter Saturday, the BYU men’s basketball team secured the No. 2 seed heading into this weekend's the West Coast Conference tournament — the highest seed the Cougars have had since joining the conference three years ago.
The Cougars have been playing some of their best basketball of the season when it counts the most. Coming into the home stretch of the regular season, the Cougars have won eight out of their last nine games and look to ride that momentum into Las Vegas this weekend.
“You get to this time of year and you really want to have some excitement around your team,” BYU head coach Dave Rose told Greg Wrubell Tuesday night in the final Coach’s Show of the season at Malawi’s Pizza in Provo. "I think that is where we are, and hopefully we can have a couple good practices this week and get to Vegas and play our best to start this thing, and hopefully get a big win.”
Saying it was "great to be back on the football field again," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall guided his 2014 team through its first spring practice on a pleasant Monday afternoon in Provo.
"I thought our team worked hard today," said Mendenhall after practice. "Certainly (we're) starting from a lot different place than a year ago offensively, in terms of how much they know about the new system."
After breaking in offensive coordinator Robert Anae's up-tempo attack last season, the Cougars are more confident about hitting the ground running--and throwing--when the season kicks off Aug. 29 at Connecticut.
PROVO — The West Coast Conference announced its all-league honorees on Monday, with BYU's Tyler Haws capturing Player of the Year honors, while teammate Kyle Collinsworth joined Haws on the all-conference team, and rookie center Eric Mika earned a spot on the all-freshman squad. BYU guard Matt Carlino was named as an honorable mention selection.
Today's honors make it 17 consecutive seasons in which BYU has had at least one player named to an all-conference team (1st, 2nd or 3rd team All-WAC/MWC or All-WCC).
"Tyler is very deserving of this honor," said head coach Dave Rose of Haws' recognition. "He's had huge offensive games, he's had an increased role defensively and he does so much to help us win games. To be the guy that everyone tries to stop every night and to be as consistent as he's been certainly deserves this type of recognition."
PROVO — The West Coast Conference will soon announce its annual all-league honors, and as is now customary, I have compiled my picks for postseason awards — even though I don't have a vote that counts. In the WCC, the only votes are cast by coaches, and none of the coaches may vote for members of their own team.
As opposed to a First/Second/Third Team format, the WCC implements one 10-player all-conference squad, and as you will see below, limiting the list to 10 top players was tough in a season that featured so many standout performances. The league is as deep as it has ever been, and the collection of talent is testament to the WCC's elevated national profile.
The WCC also names a Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Coach of the Year.