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.
At 200-59, Rose has reached the double-century mark faster than only 14 other NCAA Division I head coaches alltime. He reached 100 wins in 134 games, and took only 125 games to record his second hundred victories.
Perhaps most notably, of Rose's 59 losses, only seven have been the second of consecutive losses within the same season or postseason. His teams have never lost three straight games in the same season.
This season, BYU has lost back-to-back games once (Florida State and Notre Dame, in Brooklyn), but have followed losses to Iowa State, Baylor and St. Mary's with wins. The consecutive setbacks back east were BYU's first consecutive regular-season losses since 2008-09 season.
Now that BYU is back on track and kept one loss from becoming two, turning a bounce-back win into a two-game run will be a challenge, as the Cougars on Thursday visit No. 10 Gonzaga--a team coming off just the kind of heartbreaking loss suffered by BYU last Wednesday. The Bulldogs inconceivable defeat at Butler puts them in almost the same spot the Cougars were heading into the weekend, and USD in some measure paid the price for BYU's frustration. BYU knows what awaits at The Kennel.
Although BYU was handled by the Zags in last season's final two meetings (in Spokane and in Las Vegas), and despite Gonzaga's status as prohibitive league favorites, Thursday's matchup is appealing and intriguing.
In conference play, BYU and Gonzaga are 1-2 or 2-1 in scoring, scoring margin, FG%, assist-to-turnover ratio and steals, with both teams in the top three in FT%, FG% defense, assists, and turnover margin.
Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk is first in league scoring; BYU's Tyler Haws is third. Olynyk and Brock Zylstra are 1-2 in FG%, with Haws also in the top 10. Olynyk, Brandon Davies and Josh Sharp are all in the top 10 in rebounding. Matt Carlino is third in assists; GU's David Stockton is sixth. Three Zags and one Cougar (Haws) are in the top six in FT%. Stockton and Carlino are 1-2 in assist-to-turnover ratio. Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos and Carlino are in the top six in 3PFG%.
Gonzaga has somewhat of an edge in size and depth inside, resulting in an offense that is among the most efficient in the country and most effective inside the arc. BYU plays at a quicker tempo, and will entice the Zags into an up-and-down game--just the kind of game Gonzaga won at The Kennel last season.
After losing at home to St. Mary's, BYU is on a quest to "get one back"--a win on the road in either Moraga or Spokane. The first of two chances comes in three days' time.
For the first time since my first PAP (Points Available Percentage) update in late November, BYU's team PAP has risen above above 48%, in this week's report. This week's season number of 48.1% matches BYU's season-ending percentage in 2010-11.
Individually, five Cougars (Sharp, Zylstra, Winder, Austin and Cusick) boosted their number last week, with six players (Davies, Haws, Carlino, Harward, Ambrosino and Kaufusi) dropping and two (Calvert and Delgado) holding steady after not shooting last week.
Winder made the biggest leap, from 13th place to 6th place, having scored 19 points in the last three games after recording only 14 points in BYU's first 17 games. Three weeks ago, Winder had a sub-arctic PAP of 20.0%; it is now above 40%.
Photo: Courtesy BYU Photo