Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
There’s plenty of pessimism in Provo right now. BYU basketball fans are frustrated and down on their team’s performance this season. And rightfully so.
There’s been shaky shooting and dreadful defensive rotation. There are flubbed free-throws and brutal box-outs. And let’s not even get started on monstrous moustaches.
Alliteration aside, it all adds up to a team with some serious issues that are preventing it from performing at a high level and, ultimately, winning.
Fans are upset. But let’s settle down, folks.
The sky is not falling
Well, maybe the clear blue has already tumbled in terms of NCAA tournament chances for the 2013 Cougars.
But these struggles are likely little more than a brief blip. Just a bump in the road, and one not unique to Provo. When you put it all in context, BYU is hitting a lull that’s not uncommon, not surprising and certainly not worth melting down over.
But message boards are hotter than a St. George summer. Twitter is a torrid torrent. And some ahem "fans” are even calling for head coach Dave Rose's resignation.
Let’s all take a deep breath, people. The paint may be peeling a little, but the foundation is firm.
To allay some of the persistent pessimism of fans and boost expectations, I present a numeric wake-up call to Cougar Nation.
Did I say alliteration aside? I obviously didn’t mean it.
8 and 6
Eight and six. Just eight teams in America have a longer NCAA Tournament appearance streak than BYU. The Cougars have six straight trips to the Big Dance under their belt. Sure, fans want to see the team there perennially. But the fact is, very few teams make double-digit straight appearances. Those teams are called Duke and Kansas.
Sure, Gonzaga has 14 straight, but they are the major exception. Kentucky, Ohio State, UCLA, UCONN have all missed the dance at least once in the last five years, yet BYU has not. The Cougars have, however, been there nine of the last 12 seasons.
The point is a lull is not uncommon. It’s practically perfunctory.
Speaking of lulls
9 and 21
Those are two numbers BYU fans really should readily remember. That was the Cougars’ record last time they had a major lull in Steve Cleveland’s last season (2004-05) in Provo. It was followed up with a 20-9 non-NCAA tourney season, BYU’s last.
Nobody will argue this year’s team is fatally flawed. You can even argue that’s utterly unacceptable. But the fact is, in a lull year in which the team lost two key scholarship players, BYU is nowhere near the bottom it hit in 2005.
8 (again) and No. 1
Despite the poor performance on the court and the ludicrous losses to bad teams, BYU will win 20 games again this season, making it eight straight such campaigns. Only 11 teams in the country have had 12 or more 20-win seasons since 1999. BYU is one of them.
And number one? Well, that’s the current national ranking of Lone Peak High School’s basketball team. That team has four BYU commits on it spread over three seasons. And those killer Knights represent only part of the high-level recruits Rose’s wily winning program has landed for the next six seasons.
Past, present and future
BYU basketball has a retrospectively rich recent past. And a fantastically favorable future. Don’t let the painfully plebian present poison you with preposterous pessimism.
Oh, and by the way, the Cougars can still make the NCAA Tournament. Improbable? Probably. Impossible? Incorrect.
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