BYU basketball: Cougars preparing for Monday night NIT game
Ravell Call, Deseret News
PROVO — It's uncommon for BYU to play Monday night basketball, especially at home.
But that will be the case when the Cougars tip off their second-round National Invitation Tournament game against Mercer.
No. 3 seed BYU hosts No. 7 Mercer Monday (7 p.m., MT, ESPN/ESPN2).
The fact that BYU doesn't practice on Sundays, due to school policy, could pose a challenge.
"It's a hard situation for us," said senior guard Brock Zylstra. "We're going to practice late on Saturday because obviously we don't practice on Sunday We'll come here Monday for shootaround and go harder so we get our legs back."
Is not practicing on Sunday a disadvantage?
"No, I don't think so," said guard Tyler Haws. "We've had a good week of practice. We're going to practice (Saturday night) instead of during the middle of the day. I think a good day of rest Sunday will definitely help us going into Monday."
Coach Dave Rose didn't seem too concerned about playing on a Monday night when asked about it Friday.
"We don't do it very often," he said. "But when we do it, we just kind of deal with it."
NEW YORK STATE OF MIND?: Last November, BYU played a pair of games at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., losing to Florida State and Notre Dame.
The Cougars would love to return to the Big Apple for the NIT Final Four.
"That was definitely a highlight of the season, going back to play in the Barclays Center," Haws said. "It was a great experience. We want to get back to New York and play in Madison Square Garden."
But Rose wants his players to take the proverbial one-game-at-a-time approach.
"I hope that's not the motivating force here," Rose said of the potential of traveling to New York. "I hope the motivating force is that they have a game. Let's go win a game. If you keep that as your focus, everything works better. The prize at the end of the deal here is hard to see. What we need to do is focus on the competitive nature of our business. Right now, we have a game. A lot of teams don't have a game. Let's go try and win it."
IT'S MERCER: Following BYU's NIT first-round victory over Washington last Tuesday, Cougar guard Matt Carlino said he looked forward to playing Tennessee.
Of course, No. 2 seed Tennessee still had to play Mercer. As it turned out, the Volunteers lost at home to the Bears.
"I almost corrected him," Haws said of Carlino's "Tennessee" comment. "I was by his side when he said that. You can't come to any conclusions in March. Anyone can beat anyone. We were just waiting for the game to be over. Mercer's a really good team and we're going to have to be ready to play."
INJURY UPDATE: Forward Josh Sharp (Achilles) and guard Raul Delgado (tailbone) were sidelined for the Washington game.
"Josh hasn't practiced, but Raul has practiced the last two days," Rose said Friday. "That's good news."
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