Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My dedication

I just paid $15 to listen to the Cougars online, and it was worth every penny.

I'm currently in Las Vegas for work, and the only way I could follow BYU was to pay for wireless Internet in my room. Well, done and done.

And BYU comes back from a 14-point deficit to beat the A$$-tecs. Fredette comes up huge in the second half and Emery banks a three to win the game. How can you beat that?

Cougs, you pull my heartstrings, but thank you for beating SDSU and splitting this road trip. This was the biggest win of the season.

Time to hit the craps tables!

Friday, February 20, 2009

The dirty deuce

Tomorrow marks the beginning of a dirty two-game road stretch for BYU basketball.

First up: BYU at UNLV in Sin City. After that BYU will wing its way to San Diego on Tuesday for an Aztec showdown in the Cox Arena.

Brutal games, and both in the Pacific Time Zone.

The last time BYU won in Vegas was in 2005. The last time BYU won in San Diego? 2001.

It's been a while.

History is against us, but I am strangely optimistic. I like our chances at UNLV because the Rebels are simply not the team we thought they were at the beginning of the season. They lose to bad teams, they aren't very impressive and their home court advantage isn't what it used to be.

The caveat is that UNLV--both player and student alike--hates BYU. I expect them to channel their Henderson rage when BYU skips into the Thomas & Mack tomorrow night.

But the fact remains: BYU has bigger, taller, better-shooting players than UNLV, and I think we can win.

San Diego is a different story. They have such good athletes... I just don't know if we match up well. Lorenzo Wade, Billy White and Kyle Spain are all special. And I don't mean Chris Miles special either, Trizz.

We can still beat them, but the Aztecs will be a tougher test than the Rebs.

My X factor for both games is none other than Mr. Gag order himself: Jonathan "JT Money" Tavernari.

Tav, despite a deep and abiding love for Las Vegas ("Just want to say hi to my people in Vegas!"), has yet to really take over a game at the T&M, and that is a big reason we have struggled there of late.

Since JT can put big daggers in opposing teams, I am picking him to be the make-or-break in both games. If JT, more than anyone else, can hit some of his patented open shots, then BYU will find itself in a very good position in both games.

If Tav can't get it going, and we have to rely only on Jimmer and Cummard, I predict two losses. And two losses is costly for BYU at this point. Two losses and we are out of the NCAA tournament.

So what happens this week? Do we take both? Lose both? Split? I am anxious to hear some thoughts.

A sign of good things to come


I usually don't watch a lot of regular season Jazz games.

One reason: There's just so many.

Another: I get too crazy when I watch the Jazz. Every time I watch a game I bring myself a few pulses away from a full on stroke.

Last night's game against the Celtics, though, was definitely circled on my calendar. Did you guys see this game? It was a real jewel. The Jazz were playing from behind the ENTIRE game. They trailed for the first 46 minutes, and were down by double digits for a large portion of the game.

Then Paul Man-sap pumped, got his man in the air, drew contact and then banked in a crazy 20-footer to tie the game in the fourth quarter. He hit his free throw to give the Jazz their first lead of the game with about two minutes left.

Harpring and D-will hit two gigantic shots in the final minute, and Harpring pulled down the manliest rebound I've ever seen before to seal the win. I know... a rebound seals the win? But it's true. You should have seen this thing.

So in the course of a week the Jazz have beaten the Lakers and the Celtics--the two best teams in the NBA--and they've won six of their last seven.

Good things are on the horizon for the Jazz.

We're finally getting healthy (AK was huge in the second half last night), we've got a good schedule in the next few weeks and D-Will is back with a vengeance.

Who knows? We may even have a... Boozer... sighting in the next few weeks. Shh... don't say it too loud. You might frighten him away.

I love the Jazz, guys. I love Deron Williams, I love Ronnie Brewer, I love Millsap and AK47. Heck even Jaron Collins made me smile last night. I love that blasted pick and roll that they've been running since the Hoover administration, and I love when Memo makes a huge three pointer that brings down the house.

All good things.

One thing I don't love, while I'm thinking about it, is how Kyle Korver is the only shooting specialist in the NBA... that misses all his shots. Can anyone remember the last time he actually made a three pointer?

Anyway, good time to be a Jazz fan. It only gets better from here.

Oh wait. One more thing I don't love (hate): The cowardly, spineless, annoying, bandwagon Laker and Celtics fans that somehow make their way to Salt Lake City when their "team" plays the Jazz. Nothing worse.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

McGrady's season is over

This just in from ESPN: Tracy McGrady says he will have season-ending surgery

I know this sounds sad, but the good news is McGrady is likely to make it past the first round of the wheelchair league playoffs.

Low blow?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cancel that trip to Logan

I owe an apology to all Utah State fans.

Mere days after promising to attend the Aggies' last home game in Aggie Blue if they were to win every game up until that point, they lost to Boise State in Boise. It effectively ended my dream of snaking through Sardine Canyon on my way to the Spectrum in March.

It appears the Aggies were jinxed. And as the jinxer, I feel complete remorse.

But cheer up, State! You're on your way to an outright WAC championship. That's something, right? And hopefully come selection Sunday you will join your Utah brothers in the NCAA tournament.

It is a shame, though. I actually really wanted to see a game in the Spectrum.

"We've got it all"

This is the poster and slogan for this year's BYU women's basketball team (Courtesy of BYUCougars.com):

Does anyone else think this marketing approach is a little odd?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Write it out: Coach's Dilemma

I have an ethical dilemma.

Actually, that’s not true at all. No dilemmas here. But I THOUGHT of an ethical dilemma that would be a tough one for anyone who actually has deal with those kinds of things.

Imagine you are a basketball coach. You have a certain number of scholarships to give to your players, and that number is set in stone—no flexibility whatsoever.

One of your star players has decided to enter the NBA Draft, thus freeing up one scholarship. As a sign of good faith, you decide to give that scholarship to a walk-on who has been a part of your program for a couple years. He doesn’t see much playing time, but you still value his contribution.

Now the dilemma.

You’re in your office one day when you get a phone call. It’s a tip about an athlete who is not only a very good basketball player, but also very interested in BYU. He is receiving a lot of interest (even offers) from some elite programs around the country, but after meeting with him it is made clear that this guy is yours to lose.

You have two scholarships to give, but they are already taken by other recruits. Good recruits.

Now it’s a coach’s prerogative to evaluate each player after each season and either grant or remove scholarships based on this evaluation. So you could, in theory, strip one of your players of his scholarship and offer it to a new recruit.

My question: Would you, as the coach in this situation, strip a player of his scholarship (in this case the former walk-on) to offer it to a better athlete who will most certainly make a bigger contribution to the team?

What do you think?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Just-past-mid-season awards

This is my “mid-season award” post. I was hoping to get this post up before we started the second half of the season by absolutely embarrassing Colorado State, but then life happened.

And by life I mean Hollywood Week.

So that’s why this is my “just-past-mid-season” award post. Sorry for my tardiness.

I’ve decided to give everyone on the basketball team an award at the MWC break. I don’t know what they’ll do with it. They could put it up on the mantle, or they could just toss it in the dumpster. It doesn’t really exist, physically, so I frankly couldn’t care less.

I’ve broken it up by position.

Guards

Jimmer Fredette: MVP. How can you not love what Jimmer does for our team?

Jackson Emery: Defensive Player of the Mid-Year. Emery is my pick to guard the very best player on the other team.

LaMont Morgan Jr: The Pleasant Surprise Award. He doesn’t shoot often, but when he does it usually goes in.

Forwards

JT: The Colossus Award. It’s a heck of a roller coaster ride being a JT fan.

Lee Cummard: The Shadow Award. Lee seems to do his best when he’s out of the spotlight.

Charles Abouo: The Heir Apparent Award. When Sweet Lee graduates, who will pick up the slack? This man. Charles Abouo (pronounced AB-woah)

Archie Rose: Most-Improved. Archie has turned himself into a serviceable player here at BYU. Remember watching him last year? I rest my case.

Noah Hartsock: The Wasted Year Award. I like this kid, and it’s a shame that he didn’t redshirt this year.

Centers

Chris Miles: The Gettin’ There Award. I love what Miles can do for our team. He just needs to remember to come out and play every game.

James Anderson: The Offensive Big Man Award. Anderson is our best scorer down low. He has a nose for the basket.

Gavin MacGreggor: Backin’ it Up Award. Gavin knows his role and plays it well. Get well soon big guy.

I’ve seen BYU at its best and its worst this year. Considering how young BYU is as a team, I consider it quite an accomplishment to be contending for their third conference championship.

However, the second half of the season is going to be a rough one, and to reach their goals BYU can only lose at most one more game this season. Here’s hoping we can go on the road and get some big games.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Memo to JC transfers

Consider this post a direct message to our new recruits from the Junior College ranks.

The message? Get your butts on the field in 2009.

JC guys are not like normal recruits. JC guys are brought into a program specifically to fix holes—to patch up cracks. Most recruits have 4-5 years in one program; JC guys only have two (three if they’re lucky enough to get a redshirt year). JC guys need to make an immediate impact in those two precious years, otherwise their scholarships are just a waste.

BYU brought in three JC recruits yesterday to fix some holes in its defense: Brian Logan, Lee Aguirre and Jordan Atkinson—two cornerbacks and one linebacker, respectively.




Both Logan and Aguirre have good measurables (speed, stats, etc.), and Atkinson is a BYU lifer who works hard and plays tough. All three have the potential to make a big impact next year.

BYU needs these guys. We need them to step in immediately and shore up our defense.

BYU also took a chance by bringing in these JC guys. BYU and its coaches showed good faith and offered them FBS scholarships, and now the burden is on them—Aguirre, Atkinson and Logan—to get game-ready by opening day.

See, JC transfers play well at their level, but they are always risky because they’re unfamiliar with the speed and intensity of FBS football. Remember Tico Pringle? Remember Aundre Saulsberry? These were two JC cornerbacks that BYU recruited after the 2005 season. Both guys were supposed to bolster our pass defense. Tico turned out to be a bust, and Saulsberry played sparingly in 2007 before graduating.

Most JC transfers, unfortunately, have similar careers.

Let’s hope Lee Aguirre and Brian Logan don’t go down that road.

Let’s hope these JC transfers will put in the time—especially now during the offseason—to get themselves ready for what I hope will be great, impactful college careers.

So boys, if you’re reading this, get out there and do a few more shuttle runs. Push yourselves to the limit by yourselves, because come fall camp you’re in for a rude awakening.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Signing Day Luncheon

Bronco and I are on the same page again.

We had a nice long talk, we worked out our issues, and I’m happy to say everything’s right as rain between the coach and me.

In case you didn’t know, today is one of my favorite days of the year: Signing day. It’s when starry-eyed high school football players officially declare their intentions to ride the pine at the university of their choice.

BYU got a fresh crop of letters of intent today (I chronicled each one via Twitter), and I was lucky enough to attend the official press conference/luncheon. We ate cheap lasagna and watched a highlight video depicting each recruit and their feats of strength.

Then the main event: The keynote speaker was none other than Coach Bronco Mendenhall himself. (This is the part where he won back my heart.)

Bronco started his address by talking about some recent BYU history. He emphasized a few points that we BYU fans are quick to forget. Here are some:

Over the Last Three Years…

*There has only been one—only one—non-BCS school ranked in the top 25: BYU

*There have only been 8 schools total—in all 119—that have been ranked each of the last three years. BYU is one of them.

*Only 5 teams in the entire world of FBS College football have had more wins than BYU in that time period.

*BYU has been undefeated at home. Never before in its long and storied history has BYU gone three years without losing a home game.

Impressive facts. I know I was certainly impressed, and I was immediately grateful for a strong, consistent program.

He then talked about our seven players in 2008 who garnered some sort of All-America honors.

Then he spoke about our Freshmen All-Americans over the past four years, and explained that those athletes are the kind of men BYU is recruiting.

All in all, it was the kind of meeting that gave mopey fans like me a much-needed shot in the arm. I realized finally that Bronco is not an idiot—what’s important to me is certainly important to him, and BYU football will be at the top of the MWC for years and years to come.

Good things are in store for BYU football. We signed another incredible class, we’ve got a great coaching staff, and the stars are aligning once again for the mighty Cougars.

Signing Day!

Hey everyone, I know it's a little late, but I'll be watching the signing day news like a hawk today. If anyone wants to see the recruits as they roll in, I'll be posting each and every one of them on Twitter.

Follow me on Twitter and see each recruit as they send their letters into BYU!

Monday, February 02, 2009

My apologies...


I would like to issue a public apology to everyone I encouraged to bet on the Cardinals to win the Super Bowl.

Sorry guys. I saw Kurt Warner on Biggest Loser last week and figured he was a shoe-in.