Las Vegas – The Cougars’ whirlwind season has brought out a side of the team fans have not seen in a while. They have watched the Cougars fail, succeed and through both eventually morph into an aggressive and intimidating team, which has in some cases proved untouchable.
Continuing to build a versatile team, the Cougars’ confidence is sky high. This resourceful group of players is all about adapting and winning, their main mindset marching into the WCC tournament.
“We play the winner of LMU and Portland and honestly, I don’t really care who wins,” sophomore guard Kyle Collinsworth said. “We’ll be ready for both teams and I’m looking forward to it.”
Looking back on the season the Cougars did not always have such a positive outlook on the season and their opponents. They struggled early on against ranked teams, coming up just short on multiple occasions, losing by five points or less.
In the middle of the season, BYU found itself drowning after a four game losing streak, some of the games against teams BYU expected to handily beat. Others, teams that BYU had never beaten.
“I think our team is hungry, our guys are confident and we are eager to come out on the floor and play every game.” junior forward Nate Austin said.
What this team has mastered through the season is not necessarily its play on the court, but rather the play from game to game. Coming off wins, the Cougars continue to make plays trying to stay consistent on offense, constantly working to master their weaknesses. When faced with losses, they pick themselves up, work harder and play harder resulting in exciting wins against big conference teams like Gonzaga and Portland.
“These last regular season games have meant a lot to our progression through each season and that is something that the guys should be proud of,” head coach Dave Rose said. “Some really important things have happened this season which is really good for moving forward.”
This functional team can accredit its ability to adapt to the players, a group of guys that harness their individual roles ultimately working together to lift the team as a whole.
Collinsworth has tightly secured a spot as an example of this resiliency, becoming one of the best guys to lift the team with his high level of play over the course of the season. Collinsworth has shown versatility as well, being able to efficiently play anything from point guard to power forward.
“He has done a really great job, getting back into shape and really makes the guys around him play better.” Tyler Haws said.
The WCC tournament is vastly approaching as BYU secured the No. 2 seed just behind Gonzaga, a tough conference opponent BYU recently beat in the Marriott Center at the end of the regular season. With the Cougars playing their best basketball yet, their multifaceted game will come to the tournament along with their growling spirit.
BYU’s first game of the tournament is this coming Saturday, against the winner of the LMU/Portland game tonight.