PROVO — Years ago, when Dave Rose coached basketball at Dixie State College and the (then Rebels) had just lost a critical game, Rose let his players have it pretty good afterward.
Rose then left the locker room before returning a few minutes later to basically take back everything for which he had just scolded the players. Instead of blaming his team for poor play, Rose was suddenly bearing all of the burden of the loss, promising his players that he'd do a better job next time of getting them ready to play.
Last March, after BYU's loss to Texas A&M in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Rose was almost unapproachable as he dealt with the Cougars failing to win a first-round game for the seventh-straight time.
Everyone who has played with Rose, coached with Rose, or lived with Rose, knows he has always taken losses personally and often dwelled on them for days. Not so much this season, however.
"I've seen him just brushing it off and shaking it off and moving on to the next game," junior guard Jackson Emery said.
Obviously, Rose hasn't had to deal with losing as much as normal considering BYU's glossy 28-4 mark — the best ever in school history. The 28 wins also match BYU's all-time season victory record. And all four losses have come to teams that will likely get an invite next weekend to play in the NCAA Tournament.
"I'm really pleased that our guys are as focused as they are and that they've been as consistent as they've been," Rose said. "And when you go through a 32-game season and win 28 of them, come on, anyone's going to be pleased. These guys have been terrific."
Still, those close to Rose say he's a different man in how he's handled those losses and how he's making sure everyone associated with BYU's basketball program is enjoying the ride this season. He just seems to have a different perspective following his battle last summer with pancreatic cancer, which made his return to coaching this season uncertain.
"He's just enjoyed (coaching) a lot more," Emery said. "He's not as tense and not as uptight about games. Of course, he's still going to be stressed out, but that's what comes with being a coach. But for the most part he's just enjoyed the process and he's enjoyed every win, and he bounces back really fast after losses. He's just enjoying it because it's a fun time."
As intense as Rose is as a coach, he's only been whistled for one technical foul in five years as BYU's head guy — and that was five years ago. When questioned recently about the post-game incident between New Mexico coach Steve Alford and BYU senior Jonathan Tavernari, Rose's answer reveals his maturity as a coach.
"I've lost my cool a couple of times in my coaching career, and I hope I've learned from it," he said.
JT BOUNCES BACK BIG TIME: Tavernari taking only one shot in 12 minutes at Utah was a statistic that caught the attention of many. Last Saturday, however, Tavernari looked once again like one of the league's top sixth men when he came off the bench to score a game-high 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting, and 5-of-8 from long range. He also had four rebounds, three assists and three steals, and no turnovers.
LONG PAUSE IN FORT WORTH: BYU's game at TCU was senior night for three Horned Frogs — Zvonko Buljan, Edvinas Ruzgas and Keion Mitchem. By the time all three were honored with national anthems from Croatia, Lithuania and the United States, the game was five minutes late starting and the Cougars had spent nearly 10 minutes getting cold back in the locker room. Several players mentioned the long break in explaining BYU's slow start, falling behind 18-4 early.
FLYING LIKE THE REST OF US: The Cougars normally travel to away games on charter planes provided by local businesses, which allows them to fly in and out of the Provo Airport and avoid a bus ride to Salt Lake. Also, it allows the Cougars to return home quickly after Saturday night games. For the TCU game, however, the Cougars flew commercial for only the second time this season, which forced them to spend Saturday night in downtown Fort Worth and return to Utah on Sunday morning.
CORRECTION: A notebook following Saturday's 107-77 win over the Horned Frogs reported the 107 points were the most scored by BYU on the road in 50 years. Actually, the Cougars scored 111 at CSU in 1980.