Hoping to erase the bitterness of that big loss to No. 9 Wisconsin last Saturday, BYU's men's basketball team is back in action tonight. The Cougars (4-2) take on Northern Arizona (2-4) at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Ariz., which is about 73 miles from NAU's campus in Flagstaff. The game will be televised by BYUtv.
Coach Dave Rose said Monday that the Lumberjacks will return the game next year in the Marriott Center, even though this particular game is not on NAU's home court.
Here's an article in the Prescott newsaper, the Daily Courier, on how the game came to be.
And here's my article advancing the game as the Cougars take on a Big Sky Conference opponent tonight before the huge test on Saturday in EnergySolutions Arena against Oregon.
I talked to coach Rose and two-guard Brock Zylstra on Monday. Here are a few leftover comments from them about the state of the Cougars, and tonight's game:
Rose on how practice went while recovering from Wisconsin loss:
"I thought we had a great practice today. Guys competed and went hard. I thought that, you know, we have a long ways to go to get better, but I think that our biggest issue on Saturday night, we dealt with that today in practice, because we weren't standing around.
We were flying around, we were kinda anticipating the next pass. Defensively, we were really good. Offensively we really attacked. We weren't good today offensively, but I thought our effort and energy was real good."
Rose on whether Saturday's loss can be attributed to lack of hustle:
"I think there is a style to how you play, and we have a lot of new guys playing. And the way Wisconsin handles that ball, and passes, and you are playing defense for 20, 25 seconds, every possession. Then they want to attack you.
It takes some real discipline to get better defensively as the shot clock gets deeper. It seems like we played our best defense the first four or five passes, and our worst defense the last drive, or the last pass, and so we watched a lot of film today. I think our guys saw a lot of those things. And hopefully we will be able to learn from it and get better."
Rose on getting better defensively late in the shot clock:
"And more disciplined. That's kinda the reason why teams play that way, is to soften up the defense, and you lose your intensity, pass after pass, and so keeping that intensity up to defend late in the shot clock [is key]. And as consistent as they are, give them credit. That's what they do. They softened up our defense late in the clock."
Rose on what Northern Arizona presents:
"Well, Mike [Adras] does a terrific job. They are a great halfcourt offensive team. They screen hard, they are very disciplined as far as their shot selection. They get great shots. He's got a young team, he lost quite a bit from last year.
The two teams are pretty similar. We are both trying to figure out who is going to play, we are trying to figure out who are going to be the most consistent players, but I think that his team throughout the last eight or nine years, they are going to screen you hard, take good shots, and play solid defense."
Rose on how he is getting the guys ready after a loss:
"Well, I think the most important thing is to try and get better, is to try and learn from the things that caused us to lose. I think that their mental preparation as far as their desire to win is pretty sound. As far as things that we can address as a coaching staff to them, to help us play better in the next game, I think we have done that. Now it is just kind of up to them to perform."
Brock Zylstra on how the guys are reacting after the loss:
"I think everybody is motivated. I think the thing that happened after Utah State is that it was a tough loss, a loss where we know we could have played better, and a game we could have one if we had done some things better.
I think the next day is the time when everybody is focused, everybody is ready to play. It is a time where we just play the way that we play."
Zylstra on what they could have done better vs. Wisconsin:
"Rebounding is a big thing, and then I think just hustle plays. I think that's a big thing for us. We weren't diving on the floor and getting to loose balls like we usually do. And I don't know what the reason was for that. Maybe the new place we were playing at, but it was something that we weren't doing -- the things that we always do."
Zylstra on whether this team is tough enough:
"Yeah, I think that's what one of the big things was against Wisconsin. We were in it for a good majority of the game. We played well up to the half, and even after the half we were playing well, and then they kinda started to pull away a little bit and we weren't as tough as we should have been.
It is not a problem for us, because we know we can be tough, but it is just something that we need to do. We can push our agenda on other teams, rather than have them push their agenda on us."
Zylstra on why the team went cold from three-point range vs. Wisconsin:
"We are a great shooting team. We have everybody, all the starting five, even the guys coming off the bench, everybody can shoot the ball. That's just something that we had a bad shooting game. I don't know if it was the arena or what, but we are a great shooting team, so we are not worried about that."
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