With a win against Gonzaga behind them and the West Coast Conference Tournament in front of them, BYU basketball players has been doing nothing but preparing for the upcoming weekend. With revived hopes for a good run in Las Vegas, and even bigger hopes at a possible spot in the NCAA tournament, the Cougars currently find themselves in a unique position.
“The biggest challenge for us is to make sure that (the win against Gonzaga) is not the highlight of our season,” said BYU head coach Dave Rose. “It was a good one, but it’s not the end all. We have a lot more to do.”
This is not to discredit the new world of possibilities that opened up for BYU after its 73-70 win over the Zags. Moving to the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament was huge for the Cougars, and talk of going to the NCAA tournament proves that even after a rough midseason, it may not be over just yet. But the Cougars are choosing to take it one step at a time.
Spring practices roll on for BYU, and day two was highlighted by the return of former quarterback Christian Stewart. Stewart returned in place of McCoy Hill, who suffered an injury Monday. Stewart will participate in the 11 on 11 drills for the rest of the spring practices for the Cougars.
Stewart, who completed his senior season in 2014, starting in eight games and throwing for over 2600 yards and 25 touchdowns, was surprised that he was able to come back. Although he already finished his senior season, he is now in his last semester of eligibility, and that allowed him to return.
“I didn’t think it would be possible … it didn’t feel real. But today was fun to get out there with the guys,” Stewart said when he talked to the media. “It’s awesome. I just show up right before practice starts, warm up with Coach Beck, and go in on all the team periods, do all the fun stuff.”
PROVO — Fresh off an exciting 73-70 win against then-No. 3 Gonzaga Saturday night in Spokane, Washington, BYU finds itself still basking in the national spotlight after the historic win for the program.
Gonzaga, which had the nation’s longest home winning streak of 41 games before the loss, had swept through conference play undefeated before the Cougar upset. KPI Sports, a database of college basketball analytics and algorithms, ranks BYU’s win against Gonzaga as the fourth-best win of the 2014-15 national collegiate season.
While BYU head coach Dave Rose knows the importance of this win for the Cougars' postseason resume, he is crediting this win as one that will have a lasting impact on the program.
PROVO — As day one of BYU spring practices began in Provo, the Cougars had a familiar face taking snaps at quarterback. Despite having surgery in October to repair a fractured leg and ligament strains, Taysom Hill participated with his teammates at the team’s indoor practice facility.
With depth at quarterback an issue heading into spring, head coach Bronco Mendenhall said he was pleased to see one of his senior leaders back at it.
“(It’s) really fun to see Taysom back outside throwing the ball well,” Mendenhall said. “He’s limited in terms of practicing full, but (it) just feels better having him out there.”
The BYU men’s basketball team looks to finish the season strong as it enters its final week of the regular season. The Cougars (21-8, 11-5 WCC) are currently in third place in the WCC standings and head out on the road to face Portland and Gonzaga this weekend, preparing themselves for the WCC tournament, which will take place in Las Vegas beginning the following weekend.
On Thursday, Feb. 19, BYU had its Senior Night in which the team beat San Diego 75-62. Head Coach Dave Rose was pleased overall with what he saw. He talked about the team’s play in his weekly radio show Tuesday night.
“We got better as the game went on, we continued to play well, we rebounded the ball really well,” Rose said. “We did a good job of holding San Diego off, a team who is a really gritty, feisty, efficient team. It was a good win for us as we could be playing those guys in a week.”
BYU AD Holmoe: 'It's our intention (to) be playing in a Power 5 conference sometime in the near future.'Posted Feb 24th - 3:52pm
Saying he anticipates another round of college football realignment, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe on Tuesday restated his program's plans to leave football independence behind, if and when a better opportunity becomes available.
"I think so," said Holmoe when asked if he expects more shifting on the college football landscape. "I think there would be one more (realignment cycle)."
"I'm hoping (for more movement), because it's our intention that we would be playing in what they would commonly call a 'Power 5' conference sometime in the near future."
As the Cougar basketball season winds down, this week’s regular season home finale creates a time for coaches and fans to reminisce on Tyler Haws' sensational career at BYU.
Thursday’s game against the University of San Diego is senior night for four seniors on BYU’s roster: Haws, Anson Winder, Josh Sharp and Skyler Halford. Each senior has contributed significantly to another 20-win season. Winder has evolved as the team’s second leading scorer, Halford has blossomed into his role as a 6th man off the bench, and Sharp has provided much-needed rebounding and energy the past few games. However, the spotlight on Thursday will fall on Haws, as he wraps up his historic career as a Cougar.
Haws enters Thursday’s game with 2,565 points, good for second place on BYU’s list of career scoring leaders. Haws will need to score 35 points against the Toreros to pass Jimmer Fredette as BYU’s all-time scoring leader. Haws has already scored 35 points once this season, against Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 29. Despite the real possibility that Haws could break the record during his last game as a Cougar in the Marriott Center, Haws says he isn’t focused on setting the record and doesn’t care when or where he sets it.
BYU is inching back onto the NCAA tournament bubble with three games remaining in the regular season, and as ESPN recently noted during its latest Bubble Watch, "it's kind of crazy they're in this position to begin with," referencing the fact that BYU features two of the country's best players in Tyler Haws and Kyle Collinsworth.
So, how did BYU end up in this position? Frontcourt challenges and defensive lapses will be targeted as responsible explanations, but those issues notwithstanding, BYU's bubble status is arguably as much about a simple albeit crucial failure to finish, in just a handful of games. The Cougars' average margin of defeat in its eight losses is 4.7 points, and no game has been lost by more than seven points.
How unusual is it that BYU has the résumé it does without a single blowout loss? Fairly unusual. There are 17 NCAA Div. I teams this season with at least 20 wins and at least five losses—-in other words, teams good enough to have won a lot, yet with enough losses to put a dent in their postseason portfolio. All teams but one are in the RPI top 100. BYU is the only one of the 17 without a single double-digit setback, and the Cougars' average margin of defeat is the smallest of all teams listed.
PROVO — According to BYU basketball coach Dave Rose, the past week has played out as one of the best of the season for the Cougars.
They won both of their games, and held onto third place in the West Coast Conference standings. But, Rose also noted last week is behind them, and now the focus is San Diego coming to the Marriott Center Thursday night.
“Our Monday and Tuesday practice is all on San Diego," Rose said. "We are trying to accomplish some real important things with this team.”
After a year's absence, Senior Night returns to the Marriott Center on Thursday, as four BYU hoopsters--Skyler Halford, Tyler Haws, Josh Sharp and Anson Winder--play their final regular-season home game. Injured senior Nate Austin plans to pursue a medical-hardship waiver to allow his return to the team for next season, so he will not be included in the farewell festivities.
Last year's roster did not include a single senior, making this week's send-off the ninth in Dave Rose's ten seasons as BYU head coach. He's accustomed to the unique nature of a night that goes from flowers and family to opening tipoff in a matter of moments.
"Senior Nights are always emotional nights," says Rose. "Usually until that first four-minute timeout, you get a real interesting vibe. I remember Jimmer (Fredette)'s Senior Night; he had a terrible time the first eight to ten minutes of the game, then he went on and had an unbelievable finish."