Matt Gade, Deseret News
PROVO — It was a long December for the BYU basketball team.
And a rough one.
But despite the Cougars’ current four-game losing streak, they’re maintaining a positive attitude and working to fix the problems that have been plaguing them the past few weeks.
“All of us have been through stretches like this. We’re staying positive,” said guard Tyler Haws. “All we can do is fight, and that’s what we’re going to do from here on out. We’ve talked a lot as teammates about sticking together. A lot of teams go through this around the country. It’s an easy out for guys to go sideways. Guys truly care about this team and about the program going forward. We’re just going to keep fighting.”
“They’ve done a good job of being positive. Practices have been really good,” said coach Dave Rose. “Outside (of the team), it’s hard because everybody has questions and everybody wants to know what’s going on. But as a group, when we’ve been together, guys have been really good.”
BYU has lost five of its last six games during a stretch that began with a defeat to No. 21 UMass, followed by setbacks at Utah and No. 10 Oregon. Then came a pair of road defeats to Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine in their first two West Coast Conference games.
“It hurts taking two losses like that,” said guard Anson Winder. “We’ve just gotten into practice this week and tried to get better. That’s all you can do after losses like that, and stay together as a team.”
The Cougars return to the Marriott Center Saturday when they host San Diego. BYU hasn’t played at home since a 100-52 victory over Prairie View A&M on Dec. 11.
“Any time we can get back in the Marriott Center and play in front of our home crowd, that definitely helps,” Haws said. “We’re excited to be back here.”
The Cougars say their good off-the-court chemistry is helping them deal with the tough times.
“We’re still smiling, having a good time out here because we can rely on each other and we’re all really good friends,” said guard Kyle Collinsworth. “We’re going through this together. It’s something good for us that we can count on each other through this hard time.”
KAUFUSI STICKING WITH FOOTBALL: BYU defensive lineman Bronson Kaufusi, who joined the basketball team for the start of WCC play last year, won’t be playing hoops for the Cougars this season.
“Bronson’s decided not to play,” Rose said Thursday. “He’s decided that he really wants to commit himself to the offseason with the football team and be there for spring practice. I told him I support that decision. We’ve had a lot of conversations throughout the summer and fall. But he made that decision a week or so ago.”
MAKING IMPROVEMENT: Rose said “there are a lot of different areas” his team needs to improve on, citing defense, free-throw shooting, defensive consistency and shooting.
“Those are the things guys want to focus on and spend time at,” Rose said. “When we’re together as a group, we’re all involved in those things. When you’re in a slump, and not seeing a lot of success, you have to stay true to things that are good and will help you. Then you have to make adjustments so things will turn out different. Obviously, the guys want a different result. Everybody needs to get better.”
NOTES: Guard Skyler Halford was sporting a bandage on his nose at Thursday’s practice as a result of a collision he had with Winder during Wednesday’s practice. BYU has played four consecutive road games for the first time since the 1999-2000 season, when the Cougars played at Air Force, New Mexico, San Diego State and Utah from Jan. 27-Feb. 12, 2000.
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