Provo • Maybe it was because coach Dave Rose, who never likes to discuss such matters, left BYU's basketball practice early Tuesday to hit the recruiting trail.
But one of the Cougars' captains, Brandon Davies, admitted after a rather grueling practice that included a lot of running ladders and such that BYU's hopes of making it to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh straight year are slipping away.
"Winning the conference and getting to the tournament, all those things are things that we have as team goals, and at this point things aren't really going as we wished they would have," Davies said as the Cougars prepared to take on Pepperdine on Thursday in Malibu, Calif. "But that's life, that's basketball, and we have to put forth an even grittier effort to get where we need to get."
In his popular "bracketology" feature published on ESPN's website on Tuesdays, college basketball expert Joe Lunardi has the Cougars among the "First Four Out" of the tournament, along with West Coast Conference foe Saint Mary's, which defeated the Cougars and has a better record.
"We do take it one game at a time, but at the same time we know we are up against the wall and we got to win every game we play," Davies said. "That's our mindset, but at the same time, to take it one game at a time."
With Rose and assistant coach Tim LaComb leaving the Marriott Center midway through practice, assistants Terry Nashif and Mark Pope ran the last half, which turned into quite a workout.
Nashif, who has the most seniority among the assistants, was designated to meet with reporters after practice.
"I think it is the time where we got to get our guys, make sure they are going [hard]," Nashif said regarding the run-heavy practice. "It is hard to get the right balance of how much to run them, how much not to, but coach Rose is a master at doing that and getting our guys ready and getting our legs right."
No excuses from Haws
Tuesday marked the first time BYU star Tyler Haws was made available to reporters since his disastrous 0-for-9 shooting game against Gonzaga when the guard, who has a 21-point average, scored a single point.
"They are a great team and had us well-scouted," Haws said. "You have to give them a lot of credit. They have lots of great players. We will be excited to play them here, though, the second time."
Davies said his tender right ankle, which he "tweaked" in the 85-67 win over Portland on Saturday, is feeling much better and hasn't limited him in two practices so far this week. ... Point guard Matt Carlino has scored in double figures in eight straight games, a career high.
BYU at Pepperdine
O Thursday, 8 p.m.
TV • ROOT