BYU junior guard Matt Carlino probably said it best for the entire Cougar men’s basketball team after practice on Thursday:
“We just want to win you know,” he said. “This is very uncommon for our team, for every player. Whatever it takes, we just need to get a win.”
There’s little doubt BYU supporters feel the same way after a disastrous four-game road stretch that has seen the Cougars go from being asked about joining the elite of college basketball to battling to stay above .500.
There have been plenty of obvious problems: Defense, free throw shooting, 3-point shooting and turnovers to name a few.
I would expect BYU head coach Dave Rose to be able to add a number of other, less-visible things if he broke everything down.
But now the biggest question is whether the Cougar players are locked in on the most important areas of improvement.
“There are a lot of different areas that we can improve and hopefully we can do that,” Rose explained. “The huge key is for guys to stay positive and that we improve on those area, improve on our free-throw shooting, improve on our defensive assignments and consistency, improve our shooting percentages. I think those are the things guys want to focus on and spend time at.”
Carlino said there had been no shortage of things to work on.
“We’ve talked a lot,” he said. “When you’re not playing well, there is a lot to say you need to improve on. We keep saying we need to improve on this and improve on that but at some point you can’t be talking about it. You have to be about it. That’s just where we need to get.”
BYU junior guard Tyler Haws added that he’s seen his team keying on certain areas in preparing to take on San Diego on Saturday at the Marriott Center (7 p.m., BYUtv).
“Any time you lose three or four in a row, you get exposed,” said the Cougars’ leading scorer. “You really have to take a look at yourself and your weaknesses, things you can work on to help the team. A lot of those things have been addressed.”
But practice is still just practice.
It’s a different world, a different atmosphere and most importantly, facing off against a different opponent when you take the floor for a game.
“It is different in practice than it is in a game,” Carlino said. “You try to simulate as much as possible. We have simulated it more and it’s been quality reps in practice. That’s been good.”
Haws said he’s looking forward to squaring off against another opponent and finding out where his team is at.
“The games will tell,” he said. “The games are the biggest test if we are changing anything or fixing stuff. I feel like there might be changes that can be fixed. Guys want to win in this program and so we are doing everything we can to get back on a winning track.”
Trust Rose to take the classic coach approach, saying you plan in a game as you practice.
“You try to develop all of those habits so they carry over into a game,” he said. “When you are in a slump and not seeing a lot of success, you have to stay true to the things you know will help you. But you have to make adjustments so things will turn out different. Obviously guys want a different result.”
The different is going to happen — no, BYU won’t lose the rest of its games — and I’ll be pretty surprised if it doesn’t happen on Saturday.
All of the factors will be in place since the Cougars will shoot better on their home court, they will get more energy from the crowd and San Diego isn’t exactly a world-beater at 9-6 (0-2 in West Coast play).
It won’t be easy but I fully expect BYU to have more points at the end of the contest — but I also don’t think it fixes the problem.
I compare it how some golfers act when they have a club that isn’t working. Maybe it’s the driver, maybe it’s the hybrid or an iron or a wedge. I know people who just toss that particular club in their bag and give up on it for the rest of the round.
For me, though, I’m more about pulling that trouble club out as often as I can to try and work out what I’m doing wrong.
The Cougars need to get back to that trouble spot — road games — and show me they can win in that environment before I’ll believe they have turned a corner.
No LeBronson: Rose did say that BYU won’t be getting help from the football team this year as defensive lineman Bronson Kaufusi will stay with a gridiron focus.
Sorry, Cougar fans, you won’t get to see the lineman pounding guys down on the blocks — sometimes literally. He’s a great athlete but right now the football team needs him in offseason workouts and getting ready for spring.
Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd.