BYU basketball notebook: Cougars preparing for 2 teams as tourney nears

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 6 2015 2:52 p.m. MDT

BYU's Tyler Haws drives on USU's Spencer Butterfield in the Marriott Center. Haws was recently featured on ESPN.com. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) BYU's Tyler Haws drives on USU's Spencer Butterfield in the Marriott Center. Haws was recently featured on ESPN.com. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

LAS VEGAS — The good news for BYU is that it has received a bye until the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament at the Orleans Arena.

The tough part about that is the No. 3 seed Cougars won't know until late Thursday night which team they will play Friday in the quarterfinals.

BYU faces the winner of the late game Thursday between No. 6 San Diego and No. 7 Pepperdine (9:30 p.m. MST, BYUtv).

"This is the second year in a row where you don't have the whole week to prepare for one team," said BYU coach Dave Rose. "You're preparing for two different teams. That's the challenge right now, to get an urgent feel and try to advance to the next round."

If the Cougars win Friday, they will face No. 2 Saint Mary's Saturday. But Rose said he isn't looking ahead.

"We've spent four of five hours (preparing) the past couple of days, and there's been no mention of Saint Mary's or Gonzaga yet," Rose said. "You can't approach a tournament that way."

Both San Diego and Pepperdine have posed a challenge to the Cougars this season. BYU escaped with a 63-61 victory at Pepperdine on Jan. 31, then fell at San Diego, 74-68, one week later.

This week, Rose and his team have been gearing up for the Toreros and the Waves.

"We spend our time in practice working against things from both teams," Rose said. "It's a broad spectrum right now. Then it will narrow down. That shootaround (Friday) will be pretty intense, to get ready for that. Our guys have played them twice already. We got a great game from both teams (on the road). We know we've got a real challenge here."

Next season, Pacific joins the WCC, giving the league an even 10 teams. That will alter the tournament format.

"Next year it will be changed," Rose said. "It will go to quarterfinals, semifinals and the championship game, without any byes."

HAWS READY TO GO: BYU guard Tyler Haws, who leads the WCC in scoring, was sick earlier in the week, but he said he expects to be fully healthy by Friday.

"I came down with something over the weekend but I'm getting better each day. I'll be ready," Haws said. "I've been resting a lot. I'll be 100 percent by Friday."

CATCHING UP WITH CUSICK: Senior guard Craig Cusick hit a dramatic, game-winning shot in a victory over Utah State a couple of weeks ago. Just hours prior to his heroics, he learned that his father, Randy, had been diagnosed with cancer.

Cusick said Tuesday that his dad is doing well, although doctors found some spots on his liver and kidneys as well. The family will know soon if Randy Cusick needs surgery or chemo.

"He's extremely positive. He feels all of the prayers and we believe he'll be fine," Craig Cusick said of his dad. He's going to fight through it."

Rose said Cusick has been very focused on helping the Cougars despite the adversity he and his family have been dealing with in recent weeks.

"He's been really committed to this team. He's been as good a teammate as we've had here," said Rose, a cancer survivor. "I understand that this is a difficult time for him, but he's committed to our team."

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