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BYU basketball: "We need a lot of work," Rose says after Cougars bow out of NIT

Published March 16, 2017 2:45 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In every year of BYU basketball coach Dave Rose's career, the Cougars have ended their season away from the Marriott Center.

Until Wednesday night.

The third-seeded Cougars lost 105-89 to a UT Arlington club that was better than its No. 6 NIT seeding (or maybe BYU was over-seeded?) in front of 7,247 in Provo. It was a decent-sized crowd considering the 9 p.m. tipoff and the fact that the game wasn't part of the season-ticket package.

Because the previous season-ending losses occurred at NCAA Tournament sites, once in Houston (2006) and twice at Madison Square Garden (2013 and 2016), reporters such as yours truly weren't generally able to ask Rose big-picture questions.

Wednesday was different.

And Rose was pretty blunt in his assessments of the season and what needs to be done moving forward to ensure the Cougars don't repeat the 2016-17 campaign, a disappointing season — by most accounts.

I've included some of his comments in this quick glance back at the game and look-ahead to the future.

Obviously, all that he said couldn't be included in the piece.

Here's most of the transcript from last night, and some comments from Eric Mika and Nick Emery as well:

Rose on what this team needs to do, or have happen, to get over the hump next year:

"We need a lot of work. That's kind of what [has to happen]. The end of every season, the finality of it, you start to evaluate what you have to do next year to have a better season. This is the first year in my 12 years that we have actually ended the season here, in Provo. We ended it in Houston my first year, and some seven or eight years in NCAA tournament site, and two years in New York. This is new for us, as far as our staff is concerned.

The only thing that I can see right now is that we need to work. Our players need to go to work. Our coaches need to go to work. And we need to find a group of guys that can get together and be able to overcome a lot of these issues that we weren't able to overcome this year.

And I look forward to it. I think that usually you are trying to rebuild your whole team, at least in the past three or four years it is new players. I think the players for the most part will be pretty similar. We just need to get a couple guys back off their missions and then go to work."

Rose on what work needs to be done and if some of that involves mental-toughness improvement:

"I think it includes everything. The way we kinda go through our summer session, I think that we will re-evaluate that and maybe do some things a little bit different. But I think the guys will have a lot of say in what happens, which I like to have happen.

I think that a lot of times that is hard because we are not returning a lot of the players, so the coaches have to direct the whole thing. I think this group will have a say in what we really need to do, and how we need to do it, and then get to work and start to do it."

Rose on whether the rest of the guys will be back:

"We will see, every spring is [unpredictable]. You know ... I have opened my mouth and said things, and then the next day things have changed. So we will just take it a day at a time and see where we go and put a team together that we think can compete for championships. Hopefully we can get that done."

Rose on how much this team's youth and inexperience, coupled with all the injuries/illnesses, was a factor in 22-12 record:

"I think that's an issue. Just so many untimely injuries. You add those two things together and it meant some real challenges. In a lot of ways you have to be really proud of the guys to be able to overcome a lot of the things that could have really got into this group and got their confidence down, but they also seemed to bounce back.

And I think if we had had a full slate of guys tonight, you would have seen that same thing. You would have seen a group of guys bounce back.

Coach Cross did a much better job — he had a couple guys tonight that were out, too. And their guys seemed to overcome it a lot better than we did.

Twenty turnovers. I mean, you turn the ball over 20 times at home you are going to have a hard time beating people.

We have done that before. I think we turned it over 23 times one night against Cal State Bakersfield and got a win. But these guys, they were playing at a really high level tonight."

Rose's overall assessment of the game:

"I think that the two teams were in two different places tonight. They were really good executing and kind of a step ahead of us the whole time, and we were kinda reacting and not reacting quick enough.

We had a really hard time getting stops in the first half. They made some tough shots, but they also got a lot of what exactly what they wanted to get, and that's kind of us being a step slow and I don't usually talk about outside issues, but one thing people need to know is that this game was kinda of a microcosm of our season as far as personnel issues are concerned.

Yoeli was sick all last week, and got practicing Monday and Tuesday. TJ is sick. He got the same thing last night, and I think that explains a lot of the step-slow issues. The way our defense is built, all five guys have to be engaged and anticipating. I thought we could overcome Elijah's [injury] and taking a starter out of our lineup, but when it came right down to it, guys were trying hard. We just weren't good enough.

Take nothing away from Arlington, they were really good. They put us in difficult situations almost on every possession. But it was difficult for us, with our personnel."

Rose on his message at halftime after the Cougars gave up 62 first-half points:

"The message at halftime was to start that second half way better than we started the first half, because they had 13 or 14 points in the first four minutes. One of our real bullet points was how we started each half, and we were not very good in either half, starting either one. Not only did we give up open shots, but offensively we were just stagnant. We just stood around. And we ended up getting shots that were tough ones.

We just looked tired. We looked tired all night long."

Mika on what Rose said after the game:

"He gave a lot of credit to them. Like Nick said, they are a good team and they played really well tonight. They executed what they wanted to execute and played a heckuva game. They are a good team. So you credit them a lot. It is never easy closing a season. It is a weird feeling. You are not used to it. You lose a game, and you think, that sucks, but we will figure it out. We will pick it up and get better.

But you thank the guys and [move on]. We talked about just getting better. We gotta remember this and get better."

Mika on how he would sum up this season:

"I dunno. I think that's kind of a hard question. I think it was, I can't put it in a couple of words, but it was definitely a growing experience for all of us, coaches and players, no matter what our role was. It was challenging. Every college basketball season is going to be challenging. Every single one is going to be unique. Ours, it was definitely tough. I think being young and then having a couple key guys go down, and just battling injuries. It seemed like only having a couple of guys in practice sometimes that could go full speed. But it is tough. But in life, the hardest things you go through, it is always rewarding, you know? Different guys grew in different ways, and came up to the plate and met their challenges.

Obviously we didn't overcome all of them. We didn't go undefeated. We didn't accomplish everything we wanted to. But we learned, we are all going to be better from this year, and that's how we got to look at it."

Emery on the pace of the game and liking it:

"Definitely. I thought our pace was good to start off the game, but I think what really got us was they scored 60 points in the first half. And I mean, if score 60 points in the first half, you are up for a 120-point game, which is a lot of points in college basketball.

That's a good team. I hope they go far. They are a bunch of good guys and they play hard. They will play good."

Emery on UTA's 32 points off BYU turnovers:

"Just part of the game. They obviously pressured us full court. I don't know if it is a mental thing, but we turned the ball over a couple times and we gotta learn how to go to the next play. I think that is most important, is the next play, and we are a bunch of young guys learning. That is something we will learn, and get better in the offseason with."

Emery on whether next year will be different:

"Definitely. I am just grateful for the guys we have around us. We have a bunch of good guys, and we work hard. Like i said all year, we learn from our mistakes, and it is something we got to learn from and remember this feeling going into next year. It is a process. It is not something that just happens overnight. We are willing to learn from that process."




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