|Tyler Haws fights for a shot against Santa Clara|
They started off with 2 losses on the road at Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. While they snapped back fairly well after that, it is still coming back to bite them now, especially since Loyola Marymount is now in last place in the WCC, at 3-10.
They finally broke a four-game losing streak and won their first conference game at home against San Diego on January 4. This game marked a really important milestone, in my opinion-- Skyler Halford got the start instead of Matt Carlino, and it's been that way ever since. I saw news article after news article in the following days and weeks saying how brilliant Dave Rose was to make that change. Not to toot my own horn, but I had the idea first . . . in fact, I've been saying since last season that Carlino is much more effective as a backup than a starter, and this year, that has proven to be true. I know, I'm a genius-- what will it take to get the credit I deserve for my brilliant insights into the Cougar roster? :)
After 4 more wins, including revenge games against Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine, the Cougs played in one of the most memorable games that has happened this year in all of college basketball. Unfortunately, they came out on the losing end, falling 110-114 in triple overtime at Portland. I think I lost at least a few years off my life watching that game. It felt like a full 2 games-- not just one. It was not all terrible, though-- Tyler scored a whopping 48 points, and they put up a really good fight. I think it made them extra tired and frustrated going into the Gonzaga game a few days, later, though, and they got creamed, 69-84.
Since the Gonzaga game, the Cougars haven't lost. Tyler has been playing amazingly well, scoring points in a Jimmer-like fashion. Nate Austin has been racking up rebounds like crazy, and Kyle Collinsworth has been filling in all kinds of stat sheets. They notched home wins against Pacific, Santa Clara, San Francisco, and -- best of all -- Saint Mary's. No Dellevedaggers this year! By the way, on a side note, I think it's totally ridiculous that the Gaels are retiring Dellavedova's jersey when BYU travels there on Saturday. I prefer Nate Austin's idea that they retire his mouthguard instead . . . stupid beaver.
Anyway, right now, the Cougars are squarely on the bubble for the NCAA tournament. They have to beat Pacific tonight. They have to beat Portland at home and San Diego on the road. They can maybe lose on the road at Saint Mary's or at home against Gonzaga-- but definitely not both. And I think they need to make a good run in the conference tournament-- preferably making it to the championship game-- to make a good case for an at-large bid.
If they do make the NCAA, they could be really good, although they have been known to flake out and lose several games they should have won. It's definitely iffy at this point, and a ton depends on what happens in the next few weeks.
I know I'm strange in having this opinion, but I think I'd almost rather have them go to the NIT again-- I'm always happy when they get to play more games and have a greater chance to go deep in the tourney, even if it's not THE tourney. If they go to the NCAA, they will probably lose in the 1st or 2nd round, and I'll always prefer extending the season as long as possible. Last year, they were still playing in April, and I LOVED it!
Anyway, whatever happens, I'll always be loyal, strong, and true. Hope they start off the home stretch with a win tonight. Tipoff at Pacific coming soon . . . Go Cougs!