So BYU lost to Utah again last night. It wasn’t a big surprise, because BYU has never beaten Utah 3 times in a row at the Huntsman Center, and had they hung on to a late lead they would have accomplished it yesterday. But it was a disappointment, partly because BYU led for most of the game and had several chances to put it away, but mostly because of the huge volume of Ute smack that I get from Ute “fans” who decide they like Utah only when Utah is good. Like twice a decade.
I, on the other hand, am a BYU fan even when things are bad, and things are relatively bad right now. Yes, BYU was 10-3 in football this year and is currently 15-5 in basketball, so it’s not like we became Wyoming or something silly like that, but we lost to Utah in football, which is a big deal, and the basketball team still doesn’t have a game to hang its hat on. Losses to Wake Forest by 7 and Arizona State by a mythical 1 point are no shame, since those teams are ranked in the top 15, but losing at home to UNLV is not acceptable (even though BYU had lost just once in 54 games at home before that), and losing to New Mexico by 20 is out of the question.
But being a FAN of my team, I take joy in the fact that BYU did beat San Diego State last week, and played very well last night in losing in overtime on the same floor that has claimed Oregon, LSU, and Gonzaga this season already. Utah plays well, rides its big man, and gets just enough from its other players to win. It’s a good formula. It won’t work in three weeks in Provo, and it won’t work in Las Vegas in the conference tournament, but it will work well enough to get Utah into the NIT and to make a run at the NCAAs. BYU counters with superior small forward and guard play – an excellent game from Lee Cummard and good performances from Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery – and tries to get enough from its big people to win. Chris Miles, who will be at Twelfth Night this weekend, played his best college game, but he was up against a legitimate NBA center and couldn’t do much with him. I thought Dave Rose had an excellent game plan based on penetration and drawing Utah’s center, then kicking to Miles or Anderson for a short jumper. It was a strategy that worked very well almost all game.
I’m proud of my guys. They battled, and came up short. This team has a habit of that. Some years are like that.
While this game was going on, I was calling the Springville/Provo high school game for www.totalutahpreps.com, that featured BYU’s big recruit for next year, Brandon Davies, Provo’s center. He scored 26 points, had 9 rebounds, and scored on a huge array of moves from leaging the break, dunk putbacks, 15-foot jumpers, 3-pointers, and a thunderous one-handed throwdown on the fast break that was one of the most athletic moves I’ve ever seen from a teenager. If you have Comcast, do the On-Demand thing and watch the first quarter.
Then, as the sun rises on another Red Day, you can take good comfort in the thought that a certain 7’2″ center up north is a senior, and NEXT year, it will be the fellows in blue, once again, that have the advantage.