BYU/NCAA notes: Zone defense, other tricks, help BYU score major comeback in "First Four" against Iona

2012-03-14T00:30:00Z 2013-11-06T21:45:19Z BYU/NCAA notes: Zone defense, other tricks, help BYU score major comeback in "First Four" against IonaJason Franchuk - Daily Herald Daily Herald
March 14, 2012 12:30 am  • 

DAYTON, Ohio — "It sucks."

That's what Iona point guard Scott Machado said of losing what was a 25-point lead late in the first half.

"I feel like in games like this," Machado added, taking a large part of the blame for his five turnovers in the second half. "Missing layups and wide-open shots...we have to make those go down."

BYU won, 78-72, with a monstrous second-half rally Tuesday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament that in large part came from its zone defense.

It helped that the Cougars started making shots, and even more that the Gaels started missing them after a torrid start.

The zone defense actually allowed BYU to hang around.

That, Machado had to agree, was an awesome part of the Cougars' attack.

The zone is nothing new to helping BYU try to minimize faster teams.

"I think we felt very comfortable in it. We just wanted to be active...we started getting that momentum and confidence," Noah Hartsock said. "We were being really aggressive in that defense. When we get in that mode, it can be hard to stop."

But seventh-year coach Dave Rose had all sorts of other tricks to unleash, as well.

Anson Winder did not start Tuesday.

That shooting-guard assignment, in BYU's first-round NCAA Tournament game, went back to Brock Zylstra.

Neither he nor Winder had started in the postseason before.

Zylstra had been coming off the bench since Feb. 2. A junior who started the season at point guard, before Winder took over and then Matt Carlino became eligible Dec. 17 — Zylstra's height may have been the deciding factor.

Winder's first start in his second position led in large part to the Cougars' biggest win, at home against Gonzaga.

Winder checked in at 13:56 with the Cougars trailing 22-10. The team had committed four turnovers and three fouls upon his entry.

He was part of that zone defense that Rose said has gotten "better and better throughout the season."

Freshman Damarcus Harrison had 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting in his most extended playing time in months. It was a career high in points after scoring 11 against Longwood.

Rose thought the extra time practicing, not playing since March 3, allowed him a lot of practice in order to find a role.

"He stepped up in a really big-time atmosphere," Rose said.

Also, Craig Cusick came off the bench to record 8 assists. It's the second most assists by a BYU player in the NCAA tournament.

∫In the (not White) House: President Barack Obama did a halftime interview with the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, along with CBS' Clark Kellogg. The world officers then watched the second half in their same seats, perched in the front row behind the basket by which MVSU shot in the final 20 minutes. Ohio Gov. John Kasich joined them, also.

Everyone famous left after the first game, leaving some Secret Service to take up those seats and enjoy some concessions along with BYU-Iona.

∫The joy and the pain: They will not play each other, yet Mississippi Valley State coach Sean Woods and BYU's Dave Rose know all about the elation and heartbreak that can happen in this showcase — within a matter of seconds.

BYU fans probably know all about Rose's Houston team losing the national championship game to North Carolina State on a last-second putback of an airball. Well, Woods is also on the rough side of history.

Woods gave Kentucky a one-point lead in a 1992 Elite Eight game with two seconds left, after banking in a shot. His near game-winner came right before Duke's Christian Laettner received a full-court pass and drilled a jumper at the buzzer in Philadelphia to put the Blue Devils in position to win a national title.

Just as Rose has found success as a head coach, so too has Woods. The former TCU assistant took MVSU to the "First Four," but lost by a point to Western Kentucky thanks to swallowing a 16-point lead with five minutes left.

The Delta Devils started the year 1-11 in the non-conference, with five of the losses coming to current tournament teams. The Delta Devils then rolled through the SWAC at 17-1.

Remember, MVSU lost last year in Provo by 50 points.

∫Well, now that was thoughtful: Injured BYU forward Chris Collinsworth used Twitter to tell his followers that the site crew provided caffeine-free Diet Coke to the team's locker room. "Priceless," he added.

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