BYU basketball: A really good team with a special player
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
PROVO — After Jimmer Fredette's dominating 43-point performance in No. 9 BYU's 71-58 victory over No. 4 San Diego State on Wednesday night at the Marriott Center, Jimmermania dominated cyberspace, and the television and radio airwaves Thursday.
The senior guard is a national story, a national celebrity. He conducted interviews with national radio and TV talk shows and was filmed by an ESPN crew for an upcoming ESPN All-Access special.
These days, this is Jimmer's World. His play, and his story, have gone viral. By late Wednesday night, celebrities and athletes, like NBA star Kevin Durant, had weighed in on Fredette through Twitter and Facebook. Durant, after scoring 47 points himself Wednesday night, tweeted that Jimmer is "the best scorer in the world!!"
Fredette doesn't even have a Twitter account, but he's hearing about all of the chatter from those who do.
"It was definitely fun to see some of that stuff," he said after Friday's practice at the Marriott Center. "It's great to be talked about a lot. But we have to continue to play well for that to keep happening."
BYU travels to New Mexico for its next game Saturday (2 p.m., Versus) at The Pit.
"Kevin Durant would know something about scoring," coach Dave Rose said. "He's a pretty good scorer himself. I asked Jimmer about that and he just kind of approached it like a lot of things. He actually almost seems like he's a little embarrassed about it. But he can score. I think that the second part of the season, more and more people will watch him score, because his name is out there."
Is all the attention on Fredette, and demands on his time, overwhelming?
"It's been OK," said Fredette. "It's a little different than what I've been through, but you take it all in stride and try to get into a routine. You've got to find things off the court that you enjoy doing to take your mind off it. Then when it's time do all that stuff, do that as well."
Rose and his team, which has won 10 straight games and is all alone in first place in the Mountain West Conference standings, enjoyed the win over San Diego State.
"It was a great Wednesday night," Rose said. "It was a quite an atmosphere, quite a game. I was really proud of our guys for how hard they competed for 40 minutes. It was a great game."
Now it's all about keeping his team focused on the goal of winning the MWC championship.
As a player at the University of Houston in the early 1980s, Rose dealt with a similar phenomenon as what Fredette and the Cougars are experiencing now. A sportswriter dubbed the Houston Cougars "Phi Slamma Jamma," a catchy nickname that attracted significant hype and notoriety.
"It took a whole life of its own. Now we've got Jimmermania," Rose said. "What I believe this is that this is a really good basketball team with a special player. You can call it whatever you want, but this is a really good basketball team. And when he's special and has a great game, then we're really hard to beat."
Rose reminded reporters that as great as Fredette is, it's still a team game.
"I'm really happy for this team because they work really hard. Winning games is their whole priority," he said. "We knew that if Jimmer had the type of year he was capable of having, there would be a lot of national media on him. I don't know if we expected him to have a year like he's having right now — hopefully he can keep it up.
"These players kind of play out here in the West sometimes in obscurity. It's good for them to get a chance for people to see our team play. Again, you have to win games. Jimmer could be doing all this for a team that's 9-15 or whatever and it wouldn't be a story. The story is that we're winning games."
Cougars on the air
No. 9 BYU (20-1, 6-0 MWC) at New Mexico (14-7, 2-4)
Saturday, 2 p.m.
The Pit, Albuquerque
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
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