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There have been times this basketball season when BYU coach Dave Rose wishes the sport were more like football.
Like, right now.
Rose met with reporters on New Year’s Day and spelled out some of the reasons the Cougars are just 8-7 and have lost three straight games for the second time this season heading into Thursday’s WCC opener at Pacific.
“We are a better offensive team [than before],” Rose said. “But as a result of that, defensively we have some challenges. When you ask the question — what have you learned? I have learned a lot. One of the things is that our best defensive team in not our best offensive team. It is not like football. You play the same guys. That’s our challenge.”
In other words, Rose has a bunch of one-dimensional players on his hands — guys who can either play offense or defense, but not both. He’s not naming names, but it is pretty apparent that the Cougars have been a disappointment halfway through the season — even to their coach.
“We have to be able to play the guys who can get us in the position to run our offense, be cohesive in that, and be aggressive in that, and be effective and be able to execute and then be able to get on the other side and one, get guys to miss, and then, two, go get the ball,” Rose said. “That seems to be an issue the last three games. The times we get stops, we don’t get the rebound, and when we get misses we don’t get the rebound, and then we don’t end up with the stop.”
Indeed, the Cougars are suspect defensively. But they aren’t really that great on offense, either, despite Rose’s claims. Case in point: BYU is tied for 306th (out of 351 teams) in the country in 3-point shooting percentage, at 30.4 percent.
That’s not good.
Stories from the past week
• Rose says West Coast Conference men’s basketball has probably improved this season, but issues a warning that several teams built their impressive records against less-than-strong non conference opponents. More on that in our WCC preview. Trib
• BYU’s current three-game losing streak — its second three-game skid of the season — has the Cougars limping into the WCC race that suddenly looks more difficult than ever. Trib
• After a decent start, BYU fizzled in its showdown with No. 19 Mississippi State last Saturday in Starkville, Miss. Trib
• Scheduling Mississippi State was part of BYU’s plan to upgrade its non-conference schedule to bolster its NCAA tournament resume. That plan backfired, obviously. Trib
• Several prominent Utahns with BYU ties died in 2018, including basketball great Mel Hutchins. Here’s the Tribune’s list. Trib
• Here’s our review of BYU’s 2018 football season, a season in which the Cougars made some strides after the 4-9 disaster of 2017, but never really got another breakthrough win after beating No. 6 Wisconsin in September. Trib
Stories from elsewhere
• Interesting piece in The Athletic on BYU basketball star Yoeli Childs marrying Utah Valley volleyball star Megan Boudreaux and how Boudreaux ruptured her ACL five days after the couple married in the Payson Temple. Athletic
• Dick Harmon of the Deseret News weighed in on BYU football coach Kalani Sitake’s contract situation. The coach’s current deal expires after the 2019 season. Dnews
• John Blanchette of the Spokesman-Review says No. 7 Gonzaga will have a struggle or two in the WCC this season but could win the league by five or six games. Review
BYU’s Rose isn’t sure whether the WCC has really improved, or if several teams took the easy way out in regards to non-conference scheduling. But star forward Yoeli Childs seems convinced the league is better and deeper than ever.
“Yeah, it might be the best top to bottom in conference that it has been since BYU entered it,” Childs said. “There are a lot of really good teams. San Francisco is playing great, San Diego is playing great. You obviously have Gonzaga, who has been unbelievable this year. Saint Mary’s is really good. So, top to bottom it is a good conference, and we are excited that everybody is coming in 0-0.
"We are really excited to come in and make a statement. It doesn’t matter what everybody’s records are. Everybody is 0-0. And we want to come in and win a conference championship. That’s the goal.”
• BYU’s women’s basketball team is quietly putting together another strong season, after a rocky start. The Cougars (10-3, 2-0) opened the WCC race with two road wins, knocking off Santa Clara and San Francisco, and have now won four straight games.
The Cougars host Pepperdine on Thursday and LMU on Saturday at the Marriott Center.
Freshman guard Shaylee Gonzales has emerged as the leading scorer, averaging 17 points per game, while sophomore Paisley Johnson and junior Brenna Chase are also scoring in double figures. Junior Shalae Salmon, from New Zealand, leads the team in rebounding (5.7 rpg.).
• BYU quarterback Zach Wilson is one of eight quarterbacks on the Touchdown Club of Columbus’ 2019 Players to Watch list. The other quarterbacks are Sam Ehlinger of Texas, Justin Herbert of Oregon, Kelvin Hopkins Jr. of Army, D’Eriq King of Houston, Kellen Mood of Texas A&M, Jordan Love of Utah State and Brady White of Memphis.
The Touchdown Club of Columbus presents the Sammy Baugh Trophy annually to the nation’s top quarterback. BYU QBs have won seven Sammy Baugh trophies — more than any other school.