Less than a month ago, Brandon Davies and BYU were making national headlines. The Cougars sophomore had been booted from the team after breaking the team’s honor code, a ruling that sent the nation into a frenzy over BYU’s rules and whether the nationally ranked team could maintain its prowess.
Bolstered by the continued dominance of Jimmer Fredette, the Cougars have proved that they can. A leading candidate for National Player of the Year, Fredette is averaging a nation’s best 28.5 points per game. In NCAA tournament victories over Wofford and Gonzaga, he scored a combined 66 points.
That said, now the question is how far Jimmer can carry the team. The Cougars won those two games against mid-major opponents pretty handily, but now face an SEC foe in Florida that knows it is the highest seeded team left in the Southeast Region. The two tangle tonight for a trip to the Elite Eight.
BYU coach Dave Rose joined The Jim Rome Show to discuss the dominant victory over Gonzaga, if his team can keep this up, how he and his staff gameplan knowing they’ve got Jimmer at their disposal, if he still thought he had a Sweet Sixteen team when Davies was suspended, if the school discussed any alternative punishment and his emotions after the Cougars advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.
Can his guys play any better than it did in beating Gonzaga?:
“Offensively, we didn’t turn the ball over much and we got really good shots. We shot 14-for-28 from the 3-point line and it’s kind of the makeup of this new group of guys and how we play. If we shoot the ball like that, I think we’ll be pretty tough to beat.”
Can they keep that up?:
“We’ll see. We’ve had four, five, six games this season where everybody has been at their best, offensively. Jimmer has carried us, obviously, offensively, throughout the entire year. … But the game is so much easier for him [when others are hot].”
How much of his gameplan goes into figuring out how to get Jimmer looks?:“I think that’s kind of the uniqueness of this team because for Jimmer to get his, the rest of the guys have to be really active. If they just get caught standing, the opportunities for Jimmer to find space and create space [go down]. … Jimmer does a great job of finding players. So probably most of it is where we spend a lot more time with the other players and let Jimmer read and react.”
When they lost Brandon Davies and got beat by New Mexico, did he still think he had a Sweet Sixteen team?:
“Our staff met and we talked about a lot of different things we could do. We went through big games that we had won when Brandon had been in foul trouble. … We just felt like if we could get some time to kind of work through this, that this team would be good. Jimmer’s terrific. He’s as good an offensive player that I’ve ever been around. … We had a lot of confidence. Our challenge was to get our players to believe that they could still be a really good team.”
Was their any discussion about letting Davies play and finding another punishment?:
“I respect the fact that people don’t really understand what the students here agree to. … But the students that do come, they do understand. It wasn’t a matter of having to explain to our team, ‘Hey listen, this is his review, this is a possibility, this might not happen, this might happen.’ They knew. It was a situation where they accepted it. The team accepts it and you move forward.”
Why was he so emotional after winning to make the Sweet Sixteen?:
“I just know how hard these players have worked and not just this group of players. … We have great fans, a great basketball tradition here, an unbelievable administration and commitment to basketball. And now this group of players has actually got us into a spot in the national tournament where we haven’t been for a long time. I just feel genuine joy for these people.”