Saying that "with every loss comes renewed urgency," BYU Basketball head coach Dave Rose on Tuesday afternoon previewed his team's Thursday night meeting with #24 Gonzaga--a second consecutive conference home game against a ranked team, with the Cougars having lost to #16/18 St. Mary's last Saturday.
You can hear Rose post-practice media session by clicking in "Cougar Cuts," left.
BYU has lost consecutive home games for the first time in Rose's head coaching tenure; a Rose-coached team last lost back-to-back regular season games in 2008-09. "I think they're obviously disappointed in the outcome of Saturday's game," said Rose of his players after Tuesday's practice. "But I know that they're working hard, so that's a good sign."
Not a good sign was forward Stephen Rogers sitting out Tuesday after practicing Monday. "It's the same," Rose said of Rogers' status. "We get a day, then we get a setback. Stephen practiced really hard on Monday, then today it's stiff and sore." Rose said Chris Collinsworth "is getting better, but he's still not ready to practice."
Rose wondered aloud when the last time was that BYU played consecutive games against ranked conference foes, and also when BYU last played back-to-back conference home games against teams in the Top 25.
In Rose's second season of 2006-07, BYU played consecutive home contests against #13 Air Force and #25 UNLV, winning both, although the games were separated by a visit to un-ranked Utah. The last time BYU played ranked conference opponents in consecutive games was in 1998-99, when the Cougars played at #12 New Mexico and hosted #20 Utah in back-to-back games.
"I think it says a lot about the league we're in, and how strong the league is," said Rose of facing two straight ranked WCC teams in Provo. "The challenge we have is one that hopefully we can respond to, as far as the game on Thursday."
With the first game of February carrying March Madness implications, Rose is opting not to attach importance to Thursday's game beyond improving as a team.
"Every game is important...(but) the most important thing is to handle February the way we always handle February, and that's trying to get better, day-to-day."
"History will tell you that we get better from February, into March," said Rose, and indeed, his teams have excelled in the year's shortest month:
BYU's February Records Under Dave Rose
Rose's February win-loss total: 36-6 (86%)
Of the 2011-12 team's chance to follow the lead of previous squads, Rose said "this team has that opportunity; we'll see if they can take advantage of it."
The month begins with BYU in a four-game shooting slump, during which the Cougars have hit 11-of-73 three-point attempts (15%). Rose is hopeful the the change in the calendar results in a change of BYU's shooting fortunes.
"Right now, we're not shooting the ball as well as we have at other times during the year, and it's not just one guy--we've got two or three guys that are struggling. What we need to do is get back on top of that, get confident, starting hitting shots."
BYU has gone 2-2 in its four-game cold spell; Rose says "I'm really proud of the fact that we found a way to win a couple of games, kind of mired in a really tough offensive slump. We just keep pushing forward and hopefully we keep getting better each day."