BYU will play LMU on Saturday after Lions get past Portland
Is Loyola Marymount going to make another improbable run at the West Coast Conference tournament?
Last year, the Lions won three tournament games after finishing last in the regular season with a 1-15 record. They beat Portland, San Francisco and Santa Clara before getting blown out by Gonzaga in the semifinals.
Thursday night, the last-place Lions were at it again, knocking off No. 7 seed Portland 67-64 behind 14 points apiece by Anthony Ireland and Nick Stover. At least this year LMU won four league games, including its first two.
Next up for LMU: No. 2 seed BYU.<
BYU coach Dave Rose held his weekly press briefing on Thursday afternoon before practice, and I asked him which opponent — Portland or LMU — that BYU matches up against. He said both squads have their strong points.
"Loyola Marymount is very athletic," Rose said. "They turn you over. They lead the league in steals, and that's what they try to do is turn you over. There are kinda issues on both sides."
Here are more of Rose's comments as the Cougars prepared for Saturday's 3 p.m. MST quarterfinal:
On Kyle Collinsworth's health:
"He's been good. He has had a good week of practice. That first week after was a pretty touch and go situation, but he feels good and I think he is ready for three or four games in three or four days. Hopefully we can get to that."
On his big decisions this season and how rewarding it is to him that the moves he has made have paid off:
"I don't think they have all paid off. We have had quite an interesting season. But there is so much credit that goes to these players. I think that Matt Carlino especially early in the season when we made the decision to bring him off the bench, how he responded to that and how well he's played in that role I think has made a lot of the other decisions we have made much easier, because you've got your captain, your leader, a guy who was really out front, who has continued to play well in a different role. I think that set the example for everyone."