BYU's Mika learns his mission destination -- Italy
Some off-the-court news involving current and future BYU basketball players came out last night, in case you missed it or don't follow the guys on Twitter. The players received their mission calls.
Freshman forward Eric Mika is going to Rome, Italy, and will leave on May 14.
Walk-on Graham Pingree, a 6-8 freshman from Greenwood Village, Colo., will also serve in Rome, Italy.
Lone Peak High senior TJ Haws, who signed with BYU last November, has been called to serve in Lyon, France. Haws is the younger brother of Tyler Haws, who was actually born across the border from France, in Belgium.<
So, the Cougars have Europe almost covered. Nick Emery, who graduated from Lone Peak last year and signed with the Cougars a year ago November, is serving in Frankfurt, Germany.
Here's my preview of tonight's game against Gonzaga, published in today's Tribune. Tipoff is at 9 p.m. MST and the game will be televised by ESPN2.
BYU coach Dave Rose closed practice on Wednesday, but did hold his weekly press conference afterwards and said the Cougars will have to play one of their best games of the season to topple the Bulldogs.
Despite Gonzaga's national ranking (No. 22 in coaches poll, No. 25 in AP Top 25 media poll) and superior record, the Cougars are a 2-point favorite. Goes to show you what the oddsmaker think of home-court advantage — which is to say, a lot. The Zags were 10-point favorites in Spokane a few weeks ago when they won 84-69 with a huge second half.
"Well, we have watched a lot of it," Rose said of that game. "It is an important part of our preparation, I think. I thought we played a competitive first half, and then in the second half they beat us pretty good. Hopefully we will be able to respond to that. But we watched quite a bit of it."
After BYU's 60-57 win over Saint Mary's last Saturday, ESPN cameras caught Mika giving the choke sign to Saint Mary's students who had been on his case the entire game.
Rose was asked Wednesday by Jared Lloyd of the Provo Daily Herald about the gesture.
"Yeah, we've had quite a long conversation. It is disappointing, and I think he understands that his reaction to some harassing fans was not appropriate," Rose said.
The coach was also asked why it is important for players to ignore the crowd and not respond to cat-calls, insults and the like.
"In this situation, the game was over. It is a little bit different, but it is still the same issue. You want to represent your school and your team the best you can," Rose said. "I think that conversations are important. I think probably the best way to learn from these situations is experience — the more times you are in those type of environments, and the more times you feel it and hear it and experience it, the more it becomes common and you can not react to it. Hopefully that's what happens here with Eric."