Dick Harmon: Dick Harmon: Brandon Davies' high school coach torn by events at BYU

Published: Saturday, March 5 2011 2:01 a.m. MST

Provo High School Head Boys Basketball Coach Craig Drury poses for a portrait at Provo High in Provo on Friday, February 26, 2010.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

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PROVO — Craig Drury understands team chemistry, emotion and BYU sophomore Brandon Davies.

As one of Utah’s most successful high school coaches ever, Drury coached Davies in his early days.

He knows BYU is figuring out an emotional Rubik's Cube in wake of losing Davies, the team's leading rebounder, something needing a resolution before today's regular season ending game against Wyoming in the Marriott Center.

The university disallowed Davies on Tuesday from playing basketball the rest of the season for breaking the school’s honor code, reportedly for having sexual relations outside marriage.

Drury, the Provo High School coach, who works across the street from BYU, has provided nearly a fourth of No. 3 BYU's roster with Davies and Chris and Kyle Collinsworth.

"Losing Brandon the way they did was more devastating to the team than just losing a player for a game or two," said Drury.

It showed in Wednesday's loss to New Mexico. It was too soon to manage everything in 24 hours, the least of which were Xs and Os. The digestion of everything, a re-settling of the needle that only time can provide, had not happened.

"If they would have lost a player, whether Brandon or somebody else, to a sprained ankle or appendicitis, I don't think it would have been nearly as devastating," said Drury. "Brandon was one of the guys. Listening to players talk after the game, they expressed it. They love and support him and they are emotional about it. Basketball is a game of emotion and whether those guys want to admit it or not, it had to take some of the emotional heart out of them.”

When the Lobos shot out to a lead, you could see BYU's players press. The result was the worst shooting percentage by the Cougars in the Marriott Center this season.

"I couldn't be more proud of them, even in the loss, because they kept getting up after getting knocked down," said Drury. "I watched the New Mexico game to the end because I admired how they kept at it when under emotional stress as players and coaches.

"Brandon has been kind of everyone's little brother on that team. Everyone watches out for him. Everyone wants to take care of him. During warmups, who's been the one in the middle of the circle, gyrating and dancing? It's been Brandon.”

BYU's administration has ruled Davies cannot represent the school as a basketball player in uniform. But would it hurt for him to lead that gyration in street clothes today before tipoff? Or if BYU wins and clinches the MWC title, could he be given the courtesy of helping cut down the net and receive his piece of string?

After all, as athletic director Tom Holmoe told the media Thursday, "We care about Brandon. We love him. He is family."

Holmoe said Davies could not play basketball but told reporters he is a member of the team. If so, could Davies be allowed to linger, even if not perched on the bench? Or is the Scarlet Letter pinned on him too big?

"I think it's taken a lot more from them than just a player," said Drury. "If Brandon had just sprained an ankle and missed a few games, they would have been a better team. The players were missing Brandon the teammate and I think that hurt them more than anything else."

The day Brandon Davies' name exploded live on the news-ticker wire and became a punch line on national late-night TV, he sequestered himself in seclusion and teammate Kyle Collinsworth skipped school to be at his side. Two PHS Bulldogs — a pair of teammates standing side by side.

That's what teammates do.

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