NEW ORLEANS — Dave Rose will need a little time to let this 32-5 season settle in. He isn't ready to let go.
And who can blame him after BYU's 83-74 loss to Florida in New Orleans Arena — an end to the Cougars' stirring run in the NCAA Tournament?
That came following a Mountain West Conference championship, a run to the Sweet 16, an All-America guard in Jimmer Fredette who broke BYU's scoring record alongside the school's all-time steals leader, Jackson Emery. What's more, they piled up the most wins in school history, plus a No. 3 national ranking for a week.
What will he remember the most about this season?
"Well, I think that their competitive spirit, this group, they're just tough," said Rose.
"You know, they all have a different personality of toughness, but the bottom line is that they're competitors, and they want to win, and they trust each other and they play together.
"Jimmer's ability to make shots late in the game, Jackson's ability to defend and rebound and make winning plays consistently, Logan's (Magnusson's) ability to come in and just give you whatever you need to win a game. I mean, those are three great seniors that we'll be proud of their season once they can get through this."
The Cougars end the season with wins in seven of their last 10 games. Saturday's loss to Florida marked the deepest the Cougars have advanced in the NCAAs since the Danny Ainge era three decades ago.
A reporter asked Rose if you'd told him in October he'd lose both Collinsworth brothers, one for most of the season, and be without Brandon Davies for the final week of the conference season and still make it to the Sweet 16, would he believe it?
"I think that that group of players in the locker room, we just ... it was a pretty tough eight to 10 minutes we just had together as a group because they have been through a lot, and we've been through a lot as a group," Rose said. "We've always seemed to find a way to rise up and be successful.5 comments on this story
"There's so many goals that you set as a team before the season starts, and probably your biggest goal is to qualify for the NCAA Tournament and then advance in that tournament. We were able to advance twice and came pretty close to advancing the third time.
"That will probably feel better later, because it's tough to ... I told the guys that the toughest thing for us as coaches is that we don't get a chance to bounce back from this. That seems to be a real trademark of our guys and our program is that we have a chance to bounce back after we get beat, and this time we don't have that chance."