Dick Harmon: Cougars continue to have the time of their lives

Published: Friday, Oct. 9 2015 6:34 p.m. MDT

If they quarrel, we don't know it. If there are ugly tiffs, we haven't heard of it. They act and talk like they're having a riot — the absolute best days of their lives.

Winning can do that. So can chemistry. There's no mixture of water and oil here.

BYU's No. 7-ranked basketball squad is living in a fish bowl. They are swimming around avoiding hooks. They've endured intrusions from Facebook, Twitter and tons of national attention. Still, they look happy and carry themselves like buddies and friends on the first day of Scout camp. They look like guys who genuinely like each another.

On a team with a rock star, that is the exception, not the rule. By nature, aren't we all selfish, jealous and conspiring over what is owed us?

Not these guys.

They're setting records for wins, scoring, and their numbers in steals and assists are extremely notable.

BYU's players felt a certain bond way before the circus started with senior Jimmer Fredette.

They say it was all that inordinate travel, eating together, hanging out in hotels and airports, making two trips to the state of New York, another to Padre Island, Texas, and Anaheim, Calif. They bonded before the dam broke and Jimmer became a national obsession.

"I think it's been a lot of fun," said junior Noah Hartsock. "The team is really together, enjoying the success we're having. We're just enjoying every moment."

The native of Oklahoma said he never believed he'd be part of a Top-10 team.

"That's not what I thought coming here to BYU, but this is just great, playing so well together," he said. "Plus, being members of the church, having common feelings and goals together to compete, it is something to enjoy."

The players are very aware of the attention and the national press they've received. They are fully aware of attention on Facebook and Twitter. They joke about starting something about themselves outside of their star, Jimmer.

"Yeah, we're aware of it," said Hartsock. "We know what is going on but we just keep playing basketball. People can say whatever they want and as long as we try to avoid it and not be a part of it, it works out OK.

"I do read it. It's cool. You see yourself on ESPN and see what people write about you, it's really cool. When (NBA star) Kevin Durant tweeted about Jimmer, saying he's the best scorer in the world, I think it was a lot of fun and part of college basketball."

BYU players admit things have gotten a little nuts. Home games are sellouts and they've played before a steady diet of sellout crowds at Colorado State, Air Force, almost at New Mexico, and will face a capacity crowd at TCU on Saturday.

Can they handle it?

Apparently they can.

Not every outing is perfect, however. At times they've had to hold on, but they've kept winning, and we haven't seen a sourpuss in the bunch.

"This is fun," said senior Jackson Emery. "This is really fun. Anytime you win, it's fun. It's not fun if you're losing. I think we're all enjoying this. We're enjoying the moment and the most important thing is we are having fun, while at the same time we recognize what we want to accomplish because there is so much more basketball to play."

The camaraderie hasn't been lost on outsiders, in particular, the foes who are looking carefully for dents and scratches.

San Diego State coach Steve Fisher knows about coaching superstars and he's been to the Final Four when he was in the Big Ten with Michigan. Fisher knows Fredette put his name in for the NBA Draft, pulled it out and now is experiencing something of a lifetime that would have eluded him had he forgone his senior year.

"He's had the kind of year you dream about having," said Fisher, who told reporters this week he saw the music video where LaVell Edwards, Shawn Bradley and Chad Lewis performed a tribute.

"They were dressed up like the Beatles," said Fisher. "Crazy things have happened to him and he's deserving of the recognition he receives. He's earned those stripes he's gotten this year."

And so have the other guys.

It's the time of their lives.

e-mail: dharmon@desnews.com

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