Following BYU’s loss to Saint Mary’s on Saturday, BYU freshman TJ Haws called the game “frustrating.” Now BYU coach Dave Rose is worried about discouragement.
“The game the other night didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to and we’ve had disappointing losses before, but I saw something in those guys the other night in that second half that I haven’t seen in our team,” Rose said. “Hopefully we can fight back from that. That’s what I worry about more. Just confidence, self confidence where these guys believe in themselves and they believe in each other and have a group personality where they can get it done.”
In Tuesday night’s post-practice press conference, Rose said the spirit of the team was down at practice. Part of the reason for the slump, Rose said, was BYU freshman Yoeli Childs didn’t practice Monday and Tuesday because he rolled his ankle during the game against Saint Mary’s.
The 6-foot-8 forward fell early in the second half against Saint Mary’s and had to leave the court for treatment. He returned later in the game with a taped ankle. Rose said the ankle was swollen and sore after the game, and they were unsure if Childs would play against Portland on Thursday.
Childs said he heard a pop when he went down Saturday night, which scared him. However, he says he is feeling better.
“I’m just taking it day by day,” Childs said. “I’m a guy who will play through anything, but it’s just whatever I can give my team if the coaches think it’s going to be beneficial for us, then I’ll go.”
Without the freshman forward — who is averaging 25.4 minutes, 9.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game — BYU would once again need to shift its starting lineup late in the season.
Rose says one thing that could help the team break the end-of-season blues is leadership.
“I think that this group needs to find a core leadership group that can step up and bring them back to a really positive spot.” — Dave Rose, BYU basketball coach
“I think that this group needs to find a core leadership group that can step up and bring them back to a really positive spot,” Rose said.
Despite both seniors being injured and unable to play, the Cougars are bringing their two seniors, L.J. Rose and Kyle Davis, on the road with them this week to help with that leadership void.
“They are awesome leaders,” Childs said. “Throughout their whole process — whether they are on the court or off the court — they are talking to guys, helping us through things. I think they’ll have really good affect on us on the road, in the game, in practice, on the plane talking about things we need to focus on. They’ve been through a lot. They been through different schools, different programs. They just have a lot of knowledge they can spread to us.”
And BYU sophomore Nick Emery has an answer of his own for the team’s discouragement.
“I think right now it’s just a process of getting better each and every day,” Emery said. “We still have a lot to accomplish this year and that’s what we’re telling all the guys.”
BYU (19–10, 10–6) will first work on building its confidence against Portland (10–19, 2–14). When the Cougars played the Pilots at the Marriott Center three weeks ago, the Pilots led at the half. However, the Cougars came back and won the game 73–62.
BYU plays Portland on Thursday in Portland, Oregon at 8 p.m. MDT.