Cougars meet the press in Dayton
DAYTON, Ohio – The day before its first round NCAA tournament game against Ole Miss, BYU basketball met the media on Monday at UD Arena. The Cougars also had a chance to get on the floor for the first time during an evening open practice.
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BYU and Ole Miss, both 11 seeds in the West Region, play Tuesday at 9:10 p.m. EDT on truTV. The winner will advance to play Xavier Thursday in Jacksonville, Florida.
Q. You've looked at film of their guard line. Could you tell us your impressions of Moody and some of the others?
SKYLER HALFORD: He's a short guard but has a lot of balance. He's pretty athletic. He's a great shooter. We know they've got some great athletes on their team, and we know what it's going to take to stop them. We'll have to crowd space especially on Moody and make him drive and take away that 3-point threat.
Q. Kyle, does Ole Miss remind you of any team you've played this year, any similarities to anybody that you've played?
KYLE COLLINSWORTH: I'm not sure yet. We haven't seen a ton on them but we will again tonight and in the morning. They're heavy guard, they have a lot of guards. So that's kind of like our team. It will be a good game and a good pace.
Q. Tyler, some of your teammates were here three years ago, I think Josh was and Anson. What have they told you about this arena and the atmosphere and what to expect?
TYLER HAWS: Well, I think it was a great memory that they had. They had the greatest comeback in NCAA history. But I don't think we want to get into that type of a situation again. But they said it's a fun atmosphere, fun court to play on, and we're excited.
Q. Tyler, Andy Kennedy says he played against your dad in college. I was wondering if you're aware of that. If your dad had spoken to you about it or if you had any kind of scouting report on that?
TYLER HAWS: No scouting report, I guess. But my dad actually did mention that to me. He said he thought he recognized Andy Kennedy from somewhere. And I think he was on a team that snapped my dad's winning street or something one of the years they played in the late '80s. So it's pretty cool. He played at BYU.
Q. Kyle, usually you guys are overmatched inside, just the makeup of your team, but looks like this is one of the rare games where you might have some sort of inside advantage, at least heighth wise. Is that something that you guys think you can exploit?
KYLE COLLINSWORTH: Yeah, like you said, there's usually seven-footer on a team and that's a disadvantage to us. But I don't think it really matters. We're going to play at our pace, and we're always undersized a little bit and stuff. But we're just going to play our game and push the tempo like we always do.
Q. The best game you guys have played in a while was up in Spokane. What elements of that game do you think you can recapture here in the first round and which ones are really important to you, and then comment on Anson.
SKYLER HALFORD: With the game up in Spokane, I think we just had -- we were all on the same page as far as tough mentality goes. I think it was a big step for our team. We didn't play our best game up there. We didn't shoot the best, and we were able to pull out a win. And I think if we can have a tough mentality going into this game and trying to get off to a good start, I think we'll be great.
KYLE COLLINSWORTH: The game at Gonzaga was what got us here at this tournament and we had that intensity and it was a huge opportunity and this game's the same way. It's a huge opportunity for us. So we're going to approach it the same way and give it all we have.
TYLER HAWS: I think we had an edge to us that's kind of helped us through our conference tournament and hopefully we can have that edge again for 40 minutes.
Q. About Anson not being, we're not sure what his availability is at this point, but I think he had a pretty big role in that game up in Spokane, didn't he?
SKYLER HALFORD: Yeah, he did. We want him back. If he can play, we're excited. We hope the best for him on Tuesday.
Q. Tyler, you get down to the end of your great career. Are you feeling any pressure to kind of maybe leave on, like stamp your legacy, maybe give BYU fans something to remember you by in a real positive manner, not that you haven't already, but you understand what I'm kind of getting at, are you feeling that sort of pressure to do something Jimmer-like, so to speak?
TYLER HAWS: No, I don't think so. There's no pressure. We just go out and play hard. I think all our guys are still hungry to prove ourselves in this tournament, and we've done a lot to get ourselves to this point. So I think everyone's on the same page and playing for each other and I just want to go give my best effort and where it lands, it lands.
Q. What's Dave's best advice been to you guys? He's an experienced coach in this tournament, as a player, and as a coach. What has been his best advice for you as you prepared the last 24 hours?
TYLER HAWS: I think his advice to us was understanding what has got us to this point and to bring, understand those things and do them for 40 minutes. And I think just little things like rebounding the ball and having an edge to us and playing for each other. Just those little things and starting right from when the ball gets tipped up.
KYLE COLLINSWORTH: I think the teams -- he said the teams that win in this tournament are the teams that play the most like themselves. And I think that's our advantage. We're a unique team. We push the ball. We get a ton of 3s and just our pace. If we can play our game, I think we'll have a chance.
SKYLER HALFORD: Just to reiterate what they said is we were a team that loves to play with pace, and when we play our style of play, we're a really good basketball team. And when we play at that pace with an edge like Ty said, that's key for us. And we'll see what the outcome is, but I think it will be good for us if we can play that way.
Q. Ty and Sky, last year you hit the NCAA Tournament with Kyle back home. Would you mind comparing how you approached last year with that situation and having him between you tonight and ready to play tomorrow?
SKYLER HALFORD: Yeah, whenever you lose a player like Kyle last year, it's really hard to replace somebody like that and to have him here next to us now, and he's such an asset to our team. And definitely helps us all out as a team. He does so much for us. So feel a lot more comfortable, I guess, here having Kyle with us. And really excited about it.
TYLER HAWS: Yeah, last year I think it kind of took the wind out of our sails a little bit. But Kyle's just a huge part of our team and makes everyone better and you want to go to war with a guy like that. And he plays for all the guys around him and wants to win. So we're excited to have him this year.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Coach, if you'd like, start with an opening statement and we'll open the floor for questions.
COACH ROSE: We're excited to be here. It's been kind of a quick turnaround from the announcement yesterday evening and getting us all loaded up on the plane this morning, getting here. But we're excited to be here. I think that our team is really looking forward to this opportunity. Our coaches have done a great job being able to become pretty familiar with our opponent to this point and Ole Miss has had a great team and I congratulate Andy and his team for being here. And we just look forward to the game tomorrow.
Q. As you've looked at film of Ole Miss, is there any team that they remind you of that you've played this year, and maybe talk about what challenges they pose for you guys.
COACH ROSE: That's a good question. Their athleticism and length remind us of the first game of the year against San Diego State, one of the first games of the year against San Diego State. They don't play with that pace at all. San Diego State is more of a real controlled, slower-paced team. Extremely athletic. They're really balanced but they have a scorer who is consistently -- can really score well. But it's a team that hopefully, that we can compete with their athleticism, because they're extremely athletic, and they play fast. And we look forward to that challenge.
Q. Dave, could you kind of break down how Anson's situation and how questionable that's been, how you've kind of fit in Frank into the lineup and another answers for him when he's not been available, and kind of how that challenge has been for you as you've made the adjustment?
COACH ROSE: That started with the road trip with the Pacific and Saint Mary's games right at the end of the first half of league play. And we didn't practice Ans for a couple of days, taking him on the road trip thinking he would actually play. And he didn't play in either game. So we got back and really tried to start to wonder what would the future hold for Anson. And I think there's a couple things that really happened right there, Dick. Number one is Frank really was able to kind of step in on the defensive end of that opportunity with his athleticism and his strength, and then I think Skyler really kind of took over on the offensive end. And Skyler's last five or six weeks of the season was as good as anybody on our team, not only energy-wise, but efficiency, offensively. So between those two players, we've been able to kind of find our way, both ends of the floor. And when Ans came back we were really good. Because we had two guys who were really on it with Frank and Sky and Ans came back and gave us the same lift that he was giving us all year. So in some ways I think it made us a little bit better. Now we get to the conference tournament and he gets knocked on his other knee and ends up not being able to play in the semifinal game or the championship game. And he's practiced a little bit today. Hopefully we'll see how it is tomorrow as far as the swelling and maybe, hopefully we might be able to get him in the game tomorrow night. We'll see.
Q. You've faced some interesting matchups in the WCC with a lot of seven-footers, a lot of big guys. How different will this be, this Ole Miss team, from what you're used to playing against?
COACH ROSE: It's different. And I think the one thing -- what I can remember of the 10 years and the 10 postseason games that we've played, two in the NIT and seven in the NCAA Tournament, tomorrow will be the same way, is the first five or eight minutes of the game, when it just feels free, because you don't really know that team and they don't really know you as well as you've just played the last 18, 20 games. And so I think that's something that both teams kind of look forward to in postseason play. And this team, they don't really post their guys in the low post with their back to the basket, similar to us. But their post guys can spread the floor and they shoot really well. They can catch and finish really well. They're really good at rebounding the ball. But Andy's teams are really well spaced, and he has skilled guys in every position. And they're really athletic. So that will be our challenge.
Q. Just a couple years ago, Coach, we were here against Iona, the incredible comeback to move on in the tournament. Does this arena have mojo for BYU?
COACH ROSE: I hope it's the second half mojo and not the first half. Because we were really struggling to find ourselves in the first half of that game. But then that was another team. Iona was a team that was pretty fast-paced game and you knew even being down there were going to be a lot of possessions in the second half. And there were and we were able to get a little roll, on a roll and finish that game off. I think this game could be similar to that, where there's a lot of possessions and kind of goes back and forth and hopefully our guys are -- we get their best effort and their best energy. That's kind of what you hope for the most because we're all in kind of the same spot. It's whatever our records were and wherever we came from, and whatever happens to this point it doesn't matter, because we're all 0-0 and we're trying to move forward. If you end up with a win, you get to advance. And a loss, no matter who you are and where you came from, your season's over. So hopefully we get our best effort here.
Q. A few years ago you guys played Xavier and they had Lavender, a very good point guard, very big challenge for you in that game. Could you break down how Moody is maybe similar or is he different or is he the same kind of player?
COACH ROSE: No, he's pretty similar. I think that he has the ability to create his own shot and make his own shot, or the ability to draw defenses and kick. And I think that our defensive matchup hopefully will be a little bit better. This will be tough on Kyle, because this is a smaller, quicker guy, but Kyle's length can cause some problems. Kyle's playing some of his best basketball, and we'll run Skyler at him, and hopefully we can run Frank and Ans at him and just see what feels the best for us. I think we have more options than maybe we had with that team against Lavender.
Q. Between player and coach that you've been, NITs and NCAAs, could you describe where Dayton fits into the whole postseason experience you've had and now you're seeing it for the second time?
COACH ROSE: I told the guys today there's one thing about this tournament that's magical and that's when you advance. And the three times we've been able to advance, one of them was here. And when we landed and somebody on the staff asked me, man, you remember that -- at least we get to fly to Jacksonville if we win. Because we had the bus ride from here to Louisville last time. And they all were talking about how long that bus ride was. And to tell you the truth, I don't really even remember the bus ride, because that's what the feeling that you have when you advance, it's pretty special. And so that's a good memory from Dayton, at least for our staff and the couple of guys that were on that team. And hopefully we can recreate that and experience it again, because it's pretty special being invited to the tournament and getting an opportunity. But that feeling of being able to advance and move forward is pretty special.
Q. Can you contrast what it's like to go into a tournament with Kyle as opposed to last year when you knew you weren't going to have Kyle for the tournament?
COACH ROSE: Yeah, I know that right after the disappointing loss against Gonzaga, I had a few people ask me, well, why don't you kind of -- how do you feel walking out of the arena this year compared to walking out of the arena last year, with the same result. And I just said, I feel a lot better because Kyle walked out of the arena this year and he wasn't wheeled out in a wheelchair. That is a special thing for him to be able to have that huge disappointment and then be able to lead his team back and get the opportunity, because that's what we all play for, and I think that the chance that he has now to be able to experience the tournament, he experienced it in a nice run before his mission when we got to the Sweet 16 and got beat in overtime by Florida to go to the Elite Eight, that he gets a chance now to experience this tournament again and hopefully the results are really positive.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
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