LAS VEGAS — With the Cougars' first season in the West Coast Conference behind them, BYU’s opponents have learned to accept an unexpected obstacle — the Cougs almost never have a completely away-game experience.
With BYU a private university owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Cougs have appeared to have a rather decent fan show-up, with a fan base rooting from members of the LDS Church around the country, to many of its away games in the WCC this season.
Away from the infamous hostile environments of New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV, the Cougars seem to have found an overall greater level of support of confidence in their dark jerseys, especially in the California schools.
Continuing on with the increased comfort, the Cougars will not have to be walking behind enemy lines their at conference tournament this year (contrary to UNLV hosting the Mountainwest Conference Tournament), as all WCC teams are coming in from out of state.
Having had two of their three losses from the season at away games, the Cougs are looking to optimize on a home- game feel during this week’s tournament as they seek, as forward Charles Abouo said, “to make things right at the West Coast Conference Tournament.”
With a recent knee injury for BYU’s leading scorer, and unofficial backbone for the team, Noah Hartsock, the need for home-sweet-home comfort may be needed for the Cougs this week.
Having experienced the disappearance of a key player at the end of the season only last year, BYU has shown its ability to hold strong and grab wins, despite the point differentialation, in home court feel games.
Despite loosing on average 5.3 points each game last season after BYU forward Brandon Davies’s honor code suspension, BYU was able to still grab a win at its next home game against Wyoming.
This year after loosing Noah Hartsock BYU saw an on average 6.3 drop in its points per game against home competitor Portland.
Betting on a clear win in the WCC Tournament just off of these limited stats or the high probability that BYU will be experiencing another “home-like” feel in the Orleans Arena (with BYU fans closer than any other school in the conference) may not be something that even many recreational gamblers would put money on.
But for now, it is some of the greater facts that BYU has to hold onto. That and the potential to face the dark horse of the tournament, Loyola Marymount University, in the championship game, instead of the infamous St. Mary’s who BYU stands 0-2 against.
Then again with Loyola Marymount being the only other team that BYU has lost against in the regular season, and having lost to them at home, it may only be a matter of time before the Cougs face the inevitable discomfort of being pushed by a team even in a home-court feel.
With Davies ironically switching roles with Hartsock and end-of-season difficulties, the Cougs are eager, despite any potential hurdles, to come out on top in this new conference tournament experience.
“When you loose in the regular season, you know there’s something to always look forward to, and you know that you can bounce back and have a chance to make it up. But you know in the post season, it’s due or die,” BYU forward Charles Abouo said. “So we have to get in that mind set, and be ready to go out and leave everything on the line every game.”
Karissa Urry is a Brigham Young University student majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Business Management. Follow her on Twitter @KarissaEUrry.