WACO, Texas — BYU coach Dave Rose will be the first to tell you that his team isn’t really good right now, but firmly believes that it has the potential to be by season‘s end.
The team’s current state was revealed in earnest on the road against a tough Baylor squad that exposed BYU’s biggest inadequacies during Friday’s 79-64 beat down. Despite the tough pill shoved down BYU’s mouth, Rose found enough signs to remain optimistic and hopes his players did as well.
“The most important thing for us going forward is that our guys need to believe we can be a really good team,” Rose said. “We’re not right now, but we have a really good chance to improve.”
One positive to draw on is the team’s ability to plan and execute that game plan against a top opponent. Rose and his staff prepared a good game plan to counteract Baylor’s unique strength, and the team executed that game plan well for the first 13 minutes of the game.
“I thought our guys really prepared and for the first (part) of the game we executed and played tough,” Rose said. “We moved the ball, we got the ball to the basket, we scored and for the most part we did a pretty good job defensively.”
The goal now is simply to sustain a high level of play against a top team like Baylor and not lapse during key stretches. To do so is far easier said than done, but the players at least now have the knowledge that they can travel to a hostile environment and dictate the course of play from the outset.
Another positive is the team’s refusal to quit after incurring a large deficit. Despite going down by 20-plus points early the second half against Baylor, BYU players — particularly guards Matt Carlino and Raul Delgado — played with intensity and even managed a 9-0 run late to cut the Baylor lead to just 13 with a little over four minutes remaining.
With conference play on the horizon, it’s imperative for Rose to cut down his rotation that currently involves everyone on the bench to just eight or nine players. With guards shuttling in and out of the lineup at a furious and inconsistent pace, both Carlino and Delgado may have risen a bit to the forefront with recent play.
Really good teams are often really balanced and involve many players contributing on both ends of the floor. The current BYU team largely has just two players contributing on the offensive end (Brandon Davies and Tyler Haws) and finding at least one more consistent offensive contributor will go a long way in curing the team’s current ills.
“We need to get more consistent play from certain guys,” Rose said. “Some nights the match-ups are good and they play pretty well and nights when our match-ups are really tough and we don’t seem to execute like we need to. We have a lot of room to improve, but we need to get there quick.”