Las Vegas • This has not been a good week for the BYU Cougars and their NCAA Tournament at-large hopes. Teams that are also on the bubble — such as Dayton, Utah and Oregon — have picked up huge wins in the last week of their regular seasons.
BYU coach Dave Rose has noticed, which is why the nine-year coach said in his weekly news conference on Thursday that the 21-10 Cougars “probably” have to win the West Coast Conference tournament to get into the big dance.
“That’s what our mindset is,” Rose said. “So let’s take this first game. That’s the most important thing is to control what you can control. The sure bet is that if we win [the conference tournament], we are in a nice spot.”
The Cougars received a first-round bye after finishing second in the league behind Gonzaga — considered a tournament team right now, but not by much — and will play Loyola Marymount on Saturday in a quarterfinal at Orleans Arena (3 p.m. MST, BYUtv). Loyola Marymount advanced by beating Portland 67-64 on Thursday night.
BYU hasn’t won a conference tournament since 2001, and is 1-2 in WCC tourney games, but Rose said he isn’t tinkering much with the routine. He said the Cougars are healthier than they’ve been before past WCC tournaments.
Starting point guard Kyle Collinsworth’s bruised right knee is not completely healthy, but the sophomore said Thursday he has practiced all week and is ready to play on Saturday.
“I’m not quite myself, but that’s part of the game,” he said. “Basketball, you get little injuries here and there. You have just got to play through them … I feel like I’ve made drastic improvements, and [the knee] is headed toward the right direction.”
Collinsworth hurt the knee during a hard fall at Saint Mary’s.
Chip on his shoulder
BYU guard Matt Carlino was left off the 10-member all-WCC First Team, which was picked by the league’s coaches. And coaches can’t vote for their own players. Carlino was an honorable mention selection, despite having better all-around numbers than several players who made the first team.
Is he bitter?
“I don’t know how that stuff works, how you get chosen to it,” he said. “Of course, I believe personally I could have been on the team. It is not like I don’t think I could have been on it. Is there a chip on my shoulder? Yeah, I guess, a little bit.
“But it is not like something I play for. If I wanted to play an individual sport, I would have played tennis.”
O At Las Vegas
• BYU vs. Loyola Marymount, 3 p.m. MST
TV • BYUtv