07272017
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Cougars need to find identity, confidence in final weeks of conference play

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BYU junior Davin Guinn (24) celebrates with sophomore Elijah Bryant (3). (Photo by Rebecca Lane/UV360)

BYU basketball coach Dave Rose says there are three essential tasks the Cougars need to accomplish in the final weeks of regular season play: find a team identity, gain confidence and become more consistent.

With two weeks left in conference play before the West Coast Conference Tournament, the Cougars are still singing the same song they were singing at the beginning of the season — who are we?

“I believe we need a real identity to us. We need to find out who we are and how we are going to go into this post-season and win games,” Rose said.

“I believe we need a real identity to us. We need to find out who we are and how we are going to go into this post-season and win games.” — Dave Rose, BYU basketball coach

Finding their identity hasn’t been an easy task for the young Cougar basketball team. Every time the Cougars have started to close in on a regular rotation, something goes wrong. Injury and sickness have plagued the Cougars during the 2016–17 season. The team just surpassed the annual sickness bug that Rose says hits the team at some point every year, which limited sophomore Nick Emery’s minutes again No. 1 Gonzaga a few weeks ago. Then three players have undergone knee surgery.

BYU sophomore Eric Mika says BYU “didn’t play like ourselves” in their last game against San Diego. (Photo by Rebecca Lane/UV360)

The most recent knee surgery pulled senior L.J. Rose out last week. L.J. Rose is recovering in Texas, but will return to the Marriott Center for senior night on Saturday. While he has began a little bit of rehab, doctors say it could be up to four to five weeks of recovery.

“We’ll go through it and see what the possibilities are,” Dave Rose said.

These injuries have caused an inconsistent roster, which continues to rotate as injuries send one player to the doctor and returns another player from rehab, leaving players to question their role on the team and how to mesh together.

Over the past three weeks, the Cougars (18-9, 9-5) have gone lost one and won one out of their two weekly games.

“What would be good would be to be consistent in what we are doing and accountable to our game plan and accountable to how we want to run our offense and our defense, but to also be able to consistently win,” Dave Rose said.

“What would be good would be to be consistent in what we are doing and accountable to our game plan and accountable to how we want to run our offense and our defense, but to also be able to consistently win.” — Dave Rose, BYU basketball coach

However, the road to building confidence is a rocky one. In the next two weeks, the Cougars will face two top 25 teams No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 22 Saint Mary’s. But first up is San Diego.

Earlier this season, the Cougars lost to San Diego (11-15, 4-10) in California 88-75. Dave Rose attributes the loss to poor shot selection and not getting back on defense. BYU sophomore Eric Mika says the loss was an off day for the Cougars.

“For San Diego, we didn’t play like ourselves,” Mika said. “There’s a lot of little things that we can fine-tune to play like ourselves, especially on defense, to hold these guys to a lot less points like we are capable of.”

BYU plays San Diego at 9 p.m. at the Marriott Center Thursday night, Feb. 16. Then BYU takes on No. 22 Saint Mary’s on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m.

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