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.
PROVO — The BYU Cougars wrap up the regular season on Saturday afternoon as they travel to San Diego to face the USD Toreros. After Thursday night’s practice at the Marriott Center, BYU head coach Dave Rose talked about matching up against the Toreros.
“I think it’s been an interesting series between the two of us, Rose said. “Our games at the Jenny Craig (Pavilion) have been really competitive and really close, and the games in the conference tournament have been close. The challenge is obviously that this is a really good defensive team, a great 3-point shooting team by percentage; they’ve got two of the best 3-point shooters on their team … hopefully we’ll be ready for it.”
The Cougars enter Saturday’s game with a 20-10 record overall, 12-5 in the WCC. A win over the Toreros would secure no worse than second place in the WCC and the second seed in the West Coast Conference Tournament next week in Las Vegas.
PROVO — Considered by many to be on the proverbial bubble of the NCAA tournament, the BYU Cougars came up with a huge win over likely conference champion Gonzaga on Thursday.
Strategy for Saturday night’s game against Portland started before the opening tip. In an effort to keep freshman center Eric Mika out of early foul trouble, coach Dave Rose chose to start fellow freshman Luke Worthington in his place. Rose also started junior guard Anson Winder in place of slumping Skyler Halford. Both moves paid off in a big way. Mika was effective all night and Winder scored 19 points on 7-8 shooting, giving BYU its 20th win of the season. The win also marked the ninth straight year Rose has won at least 20 games.
“The win against Gonzaga was really big for a lot of reasons,” Rose said at his weekly coach’s show at Malawi’s Pizza in Provo. “To get a big win over the first-place team and have our guys get that confidence going into the conference tournament was important. Now we’ve beaten every team in our league this year.”
BYU Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe on Tuesday conducted what is becoming a semi-annual sit-down with local reporters in Provo, touching on issues ranging from the football team's new-look offense, to conference realignment, to a notable alteration in the school's media-relations policy relative to Honor Code violations.
"Cougar Cuts" (left) contains selected audio excerpts of Holmoe's 45-minute question-and-answer session; what follows are his verbatim remarks on--
BYU Football's new offense under coordinator Robert Anae:
BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe on Monday unveiled the 2014 BYU football schedule--a schedule that opens on a late-August Friday night at Connecticut.
The 12-game regular-season slate will see the Cougars play in all four continental time zones, with road games at UConn and Central Florida (Eastern), Middle Tennessee and Texas (Central), Boise State (Mountain) and California (Pacific).
Home games include the back end of home-and-home schedule arrangements with Virginia, Houston and Nevada, a visit from former MWC foe UNLV, and a meeting with FCS opponent Savannah State. Utah State will visit Provo for a Friday night contest preceding the LDS Church's General Conference weekend.
PROVO — BYU junior guard Matt Carlino was named the West Coast Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week on Monday. This is Carlino's first player of the week award this year and BYU's fourth of the season.
Carlino helped the Cougars to a 2-0 record last week with home victories over Gonzaga and Portland. In those two games, he averaged 22.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.5 steals while hitting .552 from the field, .526 on 3-pointers and .750 from the free-throw line.
In Saturday's win over the Pilots, Carlino tied a career high with 30 points and set a new career high with eight threes.
PROVO — Coming off a confidence-boosting weekend win at Saint Mary's, the BYU basketball team returns to the Marriott Center to face a nationally ranked Gonzaga squad that owns a current five-game win streak against the Cougars.
Thursday night's game features the first- and second-place teams in the West Coast Conference. The Zags have clinched no worse than a tie for the regular-season championship. At 13-1 in league play, Gonzaga (No. 22 Coaches/No. 25 AP) has a 3 1/2-game lead on 10-5 BYU, which remains in mathematical contention for a conference title, but barely. The Cougars would need to win their three remaining regular season games, while Gonzaga would need to lose its final four games — all of which are on the road.
"I like the pressure better when you're trying to defend (a championship)," said BYU head coach Dave Rose after his team's Wednesday practice in Provo. "But chasing it is still a good pressure. Hopefully our guys are ready."