Interesting column in the Spokesman-Review (Spokane) newspaper today by John Blanchette about BYU's entrance into the West Coast Conference.
Of note is a portion of the column in which the author says WCC commissioner called BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe after BYU fans' unsportsmanlike behavior during and after the 80-66 loss to St. Mary's on Saturday in the Marriott Center.
Apparently, the commish asked Holmoe why it didn't stop after the first warning, and what he has done to ensure it doesn't repeat itself in the future.
Interesting quote/shot at the MWC from Holmoe:
"The thing I have found about this league is that they don't pay lip service to things that really matter. And it is a privilege, really, to be part of a group that stands for something."
Which team has the better big men in the WCC, BYU or Gonzaga? That debate could be settled tonight, as the Cougars play host to the Zags at 9 p.m. (yes, 9 p.m.) at the Marriott Center. Of course, the Cougars feature 6-8 Noah Hartsock (17.5 ppg.) and 6-9 Brandon Davies (14.3 ppg.), while Gonzaga will counter with 6-7 Elias Harris (13.7 ppg.) and 7-footer Robert Sacre (11.6 ppg.).
"I think it is pretty big for us [to play well inside]," Hartsock said Tuesday. "I mean, we lost the last two home games. You never want that to happen. We are going to come out hard. We have been practicing really hard the last couple of days, and we are excited for how we are progressing right now."
Hartsock had 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting in last year's 89-67 win over the Zags in the NCAA Tournament, while Davies didn't play, of course.
Harris had 18 points for Gonzaga on 8 of 12 shooting and Sacre had 17 points on 5 of 9 shooting.
Is there a rivalry now?
"I think so, just because of the way the game went, how we won and got to the Sweet 16," Hartsock said. " I am sure they are ready to come out with an edge and I think it will be a great rivalry that is going to build up here for the next couple of years."
Coach Dave Rose won't discuss the topic directly, but Hartsock acknowledged Tuesday that the Cougars are worried about their streak of five-straight NCAA Tournament appearances coming to an end. At 18-6 and with an RPI of 48, the Cougars are probably on the outside looking in right now. Another home loss would be devastating to their chances.
"Yeah, we are kinda on that bubble," Hartsock said. "We just got to take care of our own business right now. We have a lot of opportunities in the next couple of weeks before the West Coast Conference tournament to get back to playing how we can. I think this is going to help us -- just a lot of practice and focusing on what we need to do."
A few more comments from Hartsock:
On the late tipoff and whether that matters:
"I expect a great atmosphere. I already see the tents outside lined up. That's what is great about BYU fans, they are always coming to the games and always supportive. You know, you are always used to playing late games, because we are college students and we are used to staying up late anyways. So we might as well play at that time."
On what the team's morale is right now:
"We are disappointed. Just from watching tape, from the first game [vs. St. Mary's] we watched our mistakes and we still made them. We addressed those problems and are just getting back to the basics and really focusing on competing and playing harder than the other team."
On what needs to happen to get offense going again:
"We will have just focused on getting deep post touches, and staying in the area and not letting them push us out. Because Gonzaga has some great inside depth and great inside players. But we focus a lot on making sure we get a foot in the paint when we catch the ball and doing our work from there."
On making sure history doesn't repeat itself:
"Well, St. Mary's is playing great right now. They are one of the top teams in the country. And Gonzaga, they had a tough time over there [at St. Mary's], but they are still a great team -- strong and really athletic. It is going to be another good matchup."
On paying attention to RPI, seeding, etc:
"I see those things, and where teams are. But we are just one of those teams that if we can continue to get better, I think we can do really [well] down the stretch in conference play. As long as we keep improving, we can do well in the West Coast Conference tournament."
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