That's a word that frequently comes to mind when getting to know Terrell Lyday.
It is also a word Lyday believes will be used by BYU basketball fans to describe this year's team. Lyday, a 6-3 junior from Fresno, Calif., is one of six new faces on this year's men's basketball team.
But, surprisingly, Lyday grew up in California's Central Valley with dreams of excelling on the gridiron, not the basketball court.
"I really had no interest in playing basketball," says Lyday when he was a youngster. "I wanted to play football." Terrell's mother Susan Lyday remembers those days well.
"He really had a thing for football, but I was always worried about him getting injured."
As Terrell spent more and more time on the court in front of his house, it quickly became apparent basketball was where his future was. Since Terrell is an only child, he had to turn to his cousins and friends for pickup games.
"We played ball all day and all night. That's all we did," says Lyday. And while all night basketball games might irritate some neighbors, Lyday says not on his block.
"Sometimes they'd come out and watch me. They liked to see me play."
Lyday's audiences grew even larger as he made his way to Fresno's Hoover High School, the same school where current BYU head coach Steve Cleveland prepped. Lyday says he didn't hear much about Coach Cleveland's days at Hoover while in high school, but Cleveland certainly knew about Terrell.
Cleveland was the head coach at Fresno City College while Lyday was scoring 21 points a night on his way to earning North Yosemite League Player of the Year honors in 1997. After Lyday's senior year, Coach Cleveland came calling.
"He asked me to come to their gym and play with some of their players after the high school season and I really liked it. They had a real nice team. I knew that (Fresno City College) was going to be one of my choices."
Lyday received other recruiting attention out of high school, but his mother, who had seen all of the home games he'd ever played in, wanted to continue that trend.
"My mom convinced me to stay near home the first year," says Lyday "and I thought it was best for me to stay close to home as well." But before Lyday had enrolled at Fresno City College, Coach Cleveland landed the head-coaching job at Brigham Young.
So while Cleveland started re-building the BYU basketball program, Terrell started re-writing the Fresno City College record books. In two years at the school, Lyday was twice named All-Conference guard, led the team in scoring, helped the team to a 32-4 record and Conference title in 1999, and along the way was a part of a 16 game winning streak, the second longest streak in school history.
Those numbers once again caught the eye of Coach Cleveland, and after playing at the same high school and junior college as Cleveland, Terrell finally is getting his chance to play for the man has been following all these years.
After watching Terrell win the three-point shooting contest and the slam dunk competition at the Varsity Preview, Cougar fans might think instant offense is what Lyday is all about, but Terrell thinks his biggest contribution might be on the other end of the court.
"I really take pride in my defense. I don't want to let my man score." That attitude has caught the attention of Cougar assistant coach Heath Schroyer who calls Lyday "the best perimeter defender we have."
So far, Lyday is very happy he chose to come to Provo.
"This is a fun place to be and everyone's so nice. It's just totally different from where I came from. You feel safe in this area." But while he says he feels safe here, it has been an adjustment, "The biggest shock to me is probably how cold it's getting right now." And with the cold comes snow, something Terrell can't wait for.
"When I came here on my recruiting visit, they took me snowmobiling. The snow was really thick then. I can't wait to get in that kind of snow again."
In addition to the weather, the intensity of practice was a surprise as well. "They really work you here," says Lyday, "I haven't really done this much work anywhere I've been. It's like a different world." But Terrell has been able to meet the coaches expectations in practice.
"He's been a joy" says Coach Schroyer. "Everyday he comes and straps it on and really gets after it."
Lyday has been a winner everywhere he has played. Coming to a program that only won one game a few years ago will be a challenge, but Lyday's positive attitude is a real strength.
"It's good to go to a program like that, because you are part of a rebuilding stage," says Lyday. "This year, if we go to the NCAA tournament, we will always be remembered as a team that wasn't expected to go, but went."
"He has played in 60 games and won over 50 of them, so he is used to winning and that attitude is starting to rub off in the locker room," says Schroyer.
While Terrell's life seems very complete, he says there will be one big thing missing this year.
"Since I was in high school, my mom has seen all my home games and some of the away ones too, I'm going to miss seeing her in the stands." The feeling is mutual for Susan Lyday.
"It's lonely here. I miss him. He's kind of messy" says Susan, "We always had a thing about keeping his room clean, and that's something he never did."
In spite of not being able to see any of his games in person, Susan says she feels terrific about where Terrell chose to finish college, "I feel like he is there with people who truly care about him. Not only in playing basketball, but in him turning out to be a good young man."
Now his roommates, teammate Silester Rivers and student assistant Brian Dignan have to deal with his messy room. But the biggest worry in their apartment seems to be who can beat Silester at Nintendo.
"I hate losing to Les at video games" says Terrell, "He just rubs it in." In addition to their video game expertise, Lyday is impressed with his teammates basketball ability.
"We are a lot more athletic than a lot of the teams we are going to play," he says. "It's fun playing with all these guys" Terrell continues, "My teammates are great, we all get along really well. I feel like we can win any game we play."
Surprising talk from a member of a team picked to finish closer to the bottom of the conference than the top, but don't discount that talk as mere athletic bravado.
"I've never been in a losing program" says Lyday, "and that's going to continue here. I don't see why that should change now."
BYU is a surprising place to be for a young man whose first love was football, who had never seen real snow until coming to Utah, who has unknowingly followed a coach throughout his life, and who had never played a home game without his mother in the crowd until this year.
"I just can't wait to play, you'll see, we're going to surprise a lot of people this year." Not surprising.
The Fresno Connection
Fresno City College has produced several basketball prospects attractive to four-year universities, including Terrell Lyday.
BYU Coach Steve Cleveland began his seven-year head coaching tenure at Fresno City College, his alma mater, in 1990.
Around 18 players have played for the FCC Rams and signed on to play at NCAA Division One schools, including Lyday.
"When I coached there we were committed to having our players graduate and receive an opportunity to receive a scholarship at a four-year school," said Cleveland.
"A number of Division One institutions began sending players to us (at Fresno City College) because they knew we ran a disciplined program with an emphasis on academics. Because of that, those players enhanced the image of our program and made us more competitive."
When asked about former Fresno City College and BYU players Mike Garrett and Ron Selleaze, Terrell said "I talked to Ron and Mike and they both said that it (BYU) was a good place, and they would come back if they could. They are right, this is a fun place to be and everyone is nice."
Selleaze made the second team All-Western Athletic Conference Mountain Division team in 1997-98 and was named to the All-WAC Newcomer team. The 6-6 forward had a career high of 31 points against UNLV and was selected as the team MVP.
Selleaze joined BYU's team nine games after the season started in 1997 and led the Cougars in scoring and rebounding with 16.8 and 7.0 averages, respectively before leaving Provo with Garrett.
After sitting out last season, Selleaze is now playing for Cal-State Bakersfield where he leads the team in scoring (19.7 ppg), rebounding (6.7 rpg), assists (3.7 apg) and steals (2.3 spg).
Selleaze has led his team in scoring all three games so far, including a season-high of 28 at Western Washington. He also led them with 12 points while leading all rebounders with eight boards at Stanford. He has played the 1, 2, 3 and 4 positions and is undoubtedly the team's best player and could be a lock for a DII All-American award.
Garrett was a student at BYU, but did not play for the Cougars. He signed a letter of intent last season with UNLV, but is not with the Rebels this season.
FCC Player Four-Year School
Larry Abney Fresno St.
Tom Alfaro Kansas St.
Clarence Allen Cal-Santa Barbara
Rafer Alston Fresno St.
T.J. Atkins North Texas St.
Dave Barnett Fresno St.
Mike Garrett BYU, UNLV
Lonnie Hughey Fresno St.
Frank Johnson Oregon
John Loyear Missouri
*Terrell Lyday BYU
*Terri Miller Fresno St.
Tim Natsues Kansas
Andre Patterson New Mexico St.
Roscoe Pondexter Long Beach St.
*Ron Selleaze BYU, Bakersfield
Kenny Travis New Mexico St.
Daryl Wolfe Pacific
Kenne Young San Jose St.
*currently playing this season