College basketball • Cancer hits close to home for coach; national attention appeals to BYU.
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Brigham Young's participation in the 18th annual Coaches vs. Cancer Classic is important to the Cougars on two levels.
First, each of the four coaches involved in the two-day event, which begins Friday inside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, have personally experienced the bludgeoning effect of cancer, making this a cause close to the heart.
"It has been in the works for about three years," BYU coach Dave Rose said about BYU's invitation. "We got some real momentum a couple of years ago when I went back to Washington, D.C. [to appear before Congress with other coaches about the need for cancer research funds]. I met the two or three guys from the American Cancer Society who are involved in selecting the teams that play, and they were kind enough to think of us [as a worthy participant]."
BYU plays Florida State at 5 p.m. MT, followed by Notre Dame and Saint Joseph's University. TruTV, which will broadcast the event, plans to air a feature about Rose, who overcame pancreatic cancer.
Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton lost two brothers to cancer, while St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli's son-in-law died from cancer. Notre Dame coach Mike Brey's father is a cancer survivor.
"When you look around our society, you see so many people affected in one way or another by this dreaded disease. In my mind, I've always wanted to contribute as much as possible to the fight," Hamilton said.
The second reason for playing is the impact this appearance, in the heart of the U.S. media center, will have on this season's BYU basketball program.
"We've gotten some nice respect the past few years, and getting invited to the tournament is a sign of that," BYU's Brock Zylstra said. "Now we have to go out there and have a good showing, show that we belong.
"With the caliber of teams that are going to be in New York, it is something that we are thrilled to be a part of."
After opening the season with a five-point loss to South Alabama, Florida State (1-1), which won the 2012 ACC Championship, rebounded to beat Buffalo by nearly 30.
This is the first meeting between the Seminoles and the Cougars (2-0) since Dec. 29, 1972, when BYU defeated FSU 80-77 to win the championship game of the All-College Tournament in Oklahoma City, Okla.
"I don't know if I would call it pressure," Zylstra said. "Coach talks about how you accept pressure and how you use it to drive yourself. Pressure shouldn't make you nervous; it should drive you to excel. There's no pressure with us because we've already been invited."
In theory, a good showing could set the table for the rest of the season. BYU is coming off a 26-9 record and a first-round victory in the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars have won 25 or more games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for six consecutive seasons.
"These are all really important games," Rose said. "I think everybody knows here that every game counts and we need to play our best."
BYU vs. Florida State
P At Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Tipoff • Friday, 5 p.m.
TV • TruTV
Radio • 1160 AM
Records • BYU 2-0, FSU 1-1
Series record • BYU, 1-0
Last meeting • BYU, 80-77 (Dec. 29, 1972)
About the Cougars • Brandon Davies and Tyler Haws each average 22 points. … In its first two games, BYU has compiled 41 assists. ... BYU has won 25 or more games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for six consecutive seasons.
About the Seminoles • Michael Snaer, Florida State's senior guard, the MVP of the 2012 ACC Tournament, was named to the Naismith Award List and the Lute Olson preseason All-American team. ... Leonard Hamilton is the only coach in college basketball history to be named Coach of the Year in both the ACC (2009 and 2012) and the Big East (1995 and 1999). … FSU has averaged 10 steals a game.