BYU basketball channeling confidence in comeback week


BYU junior Elijah Bryant drives through the paint in a game against Illinois State. (Photo by Rebecca Lane/UV360)bryant

One loss always hurts a team, but back-to-back losses inevitably cut deeper.

Last week, BYU basketball suffered two losses: one to then-No.12/14 Gonzaga and the other to Loyola Marymount, a team that was sitting at the bottom of the West Coast Conference.

A 15 percent shooting night in Spokane, Washington against conference foe Gonzaga may have taken a toll on that confidence. Or maybe that 3-for-20 effort just took a toll on fans’ confidence.

During BYU’s post-practice press conference Tuesday, BYU coach Dave Rose told the media he had just watch 19 consecutive 3-point shots go in the basket without touching the rim.

“If you believe that we’re a 40 percent or a 35 percent 3-point shooting team, then you believe that when one weekend doesn’t pan out, the next weekend has to be better,” Rose said. “If you don’t believe that, there’s not much point. I just watched 19 balls go into the net during our shooting drills, 19 in a row, and not one of them hit the rim. So you just believe it’s going to get better.”

Rose believes his team has what it takes to bounce back from last week’s two losses and that confidence begins with the coaches.

[pullquote]“I think right now it’s a confidence issue, especially when you get beat twice in a row and get yourself on a losing skid. Your players have to have confidence in themselves. I believe that starts with the coaching staff.” — Dave Rose, BYU basketball coach[/pullquote]

“I think right now it’s a confidence issue, especially when you get beat twice in a row and get yourself on a losing skid,” Rose said. “Your players have to have confidence in themselves. I believe that starts with the coaching staff. They have to believe that the coaching staff believes in them. That’s probably been our biggest focus this week: to make sure these guys understand how good we think this team is as coaches, how good we think they can get. Let’s put the past in the past and move forward.”

BYU has averaged 36.9 percent from behind the arc throughout the 2017–18 season. And BYU’s leading scorer Elijah Bryant, who went an uncharacteristic 1-of-11 from the field against Gonzaga, is feeling better after taking a hit to the head during the game against LMU last week. Bryant saw a doctor and received treatments that have helped him.

“He’s having a tremendous year,” Rose said. “He’s been so efficient and such a great part of our team. I think he’s being singled out so (teams) guard him pretty good. Guys are being physical with him.

“He’s really diligent with his preparation. In the training room he stays after. He’s in early, he eats well and has a great nutrition regimen. Those are extra, things that guys can do to help themselves and he’s really good at it. Some guys are in late and out early and don’t spend much time on anything but their game. He spends as much time on his body as he does on his game.”

Having Bryant back full force will help return the Cougars to normal. Also, throughout the season, the Cougars have sang the same tune — take one game at a time.

“I think right now Coach Rose has a really good focus with the team and it’s just playing the next game,” said BYU forward Luke Worthington. “We need to play and beat Santa Clara and that’s our only focus individually and as a team. As long as we can stay locked into that one game at a time we’ll put ourselves in a really good position come the end of the year.”

Earlier this season, BYU easily beat Santa Clara 84–50 on a solid shooting night.

“I think the second time through in league you see a lot of real-time adjustments,” Rose said. “We also see the adjustments to begin the game that is different than the game before, but then there are a lot of real-time adjustments in the game. Hopefully we’ll be able to adjust to it.”

BYU plays Santa Clara at the Marriott Center on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 9 p.m. MST. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.

Rebecca Lane

While her first language is sarcasm, Rebecca dabbles in English and Russian to achieve her lifelong dream of being a journalist. A BYU sports fan, reading enthusiast and wannabe world traveler, Rebecca is a Colorado transplant that is convinced Colorado's mountains are much larger than the many Utah County peaks. Rebecca manages for Bennett Communications. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccalane.

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