STANFORD, Calif. — BYU women's basketball coach Jeff Judkins was disappointed with his team's 74-63 loss to Stanford on Monday, yet managed to take a positive line of thinking on his team during the postgame press conference, and for good reason.
For much of Monday's game the Cougars proved competitive enough to match whatever the NCAA tournament-seasoned Cardinal threw their way, with Judkins taking time to admire the program Stanford is. It's a program he wants his own to emulate, and if Monday's loss served as any indication, Judkins' team might not be all that far away.
"Stanford is a great team. They're well-coached and one day that's where we're going to be. There's no doubt in my mind," Judkins said. "It was a fun tournament and our team grew in so many ways to make us a better team for the next few years."
Judkins' comments have to be taken seriously, considering the relative youth of his team and what his players showed throughout the year in exceeding most expectations.
Matching what Stanford has become isn't an easy task by any means, however, considering its stellar resume. The program's win on Monday marks the 12th straight year it has reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament, an achievement any program would be hard-pressed to match.
But with what BYU has going for it, including showing the ability to play the Cardinal tough at Maple Pavilion, certainly indicates better days ahead, at the very least.
SMALL BUT LOUD SUPPORT: A few fans followed BYU to Stanford to cheer them on in the tournament — most notably former BYU quarterback great and Super Bowl MVP Steve Young, who attended both Saturday's win and Monday's loss.
BYU players also received a lot of support from family, with parents and other family members traveling out to loudly and enthusiastically cheer from behind the bench.
Cougars sophomore guard Paisley Johnson may have received the most family support with her father, Brent Johnson, being among six Johnson family members who made the trip out to Stanford.
"It's so much fun for all of us. We don't see each other as much as we like, so it's great to get together for us," Brent Johnson said. "We've loved getting to know all the other families and it's an experience we won't forget."
CARDINAL PRAISE FOR GONZALES: BYU freshman guard Shaylee Gonzales captured a lot of attention in scoring a game-high 32 points, with Stanford players serving notice to her great play.9 comments on this story
Turns out Stanford coach Tara Vanderveer recruited Gonzales to play for her program, and when asked about doing as much after the game, she responded with a smile that her recruiting efforts were, "Not hard enough."
"I think she's a special player," Vanderveer continued. "For a freshman to come into this atmosphere and against some real quality players that she played against, she's very poised. Her numbers speak for themselves."
Gonzales' numbers included 12-21 shooting from the field, and a perfect 4-4 from 3-point range.