More from BYU's 73-65 win over Gonzaga
Anson Winder scored 17 points and was 10 of 10 from the free-throw line, Matt Carlino added 15 points off the bench and Eric Mika chipped in 13 points and eight rebounds and held his own against Gonzaga's massive front line.
In my opinion, though, game ball after BYU beat the Zags 73-65 Thursday night at the Marriott Center in front of 19,136 has to go to coach Dave Rose.
His ploy to keep GU's Kevin Pangos from going off against the Cougars again by starting Winder against him was brilliant. Pangos was just 3 of 9 from the field and had just three assists to go with two turnovers. He got a good chunk of his 13 points from the FT line (5 of 6).<
Here's my game story from last night's big win for the Cougars, which is different than the version printed in the newspaper because it includes comments from Rose, Mika and Winder.
You can listen to Rose's reasoning for making the lineup change by checking out the video of the first four minutes of his press conference that I posted last night.
Here's Mika on not starting for the first time (when healthy) in his college career:
"I didn't really mind it. I kinda liked it. It was nice to kinda see how the game was going, how the flow was for a minute or two, and then be able to go. Then all the other big guys on the other team were kinda tired after a few minutes because the pace of the game. So I think it helped my start, definitely gave me an advantage, so I was fine with it.
Coach originally said it was so the same thing that happened at Saint Mary's wouldn't happen tonight because teams kinda target me, and try to get me in quick foul trouble, so that's what we were trying to avoid, and that's what we did."
Interestingly, there's some talk nationally that the win propelled BYU back into the picture for an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. ESPN's Joe Lunardi says it did, while Jerry Palm of CBSsports.com isn't drinking the blue cool-aid just yet.
"Hopefully [the win] helps us. We need as much help as we can get going into the tournament and we know this is a big win for us. They were a ranked team, so hopefully this helps us," Winder said, acknowledging that he pays attention to it because people around him bring it up all the time.
At any rate, Rose called the wins over SMC and the Zags "huge wins."
"I mean, I think that it is hard to kinda put your finger on what really makes good things happen for your team. But I do believe that the experiences we have had earlier in the year as a group has put us in some really tough situations, and we had to respond to it, and the response at times was really good effort, but not a lot of success. And then we had to come out and play again, and fight, and rely on each other, and we have been through that quite a few times.
If that had been our first or second time trying to deal with that adversity, I don't know how we would have responded, but these guys, I mean, they are together. They are bonded together through the rigors of this season, and I think the last two games, that has really paid off for them."
More post game comments will follow, but I thought this one in particular from Gonzaga coach Mark Few was pretty good when he was asked what BYU brings to the WCC. Notice that Few said the word "rivalry." Maybe, but I think it won't really take off until BYU beats Gonzaga in Spokane, or in the WCC tournament.
"They bring a national brand, a national program, a big-time arena that you could take anywhere in any league and it would be big time, a great fan base and a great rivalry with us."