LAS VEGAS — Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating and BYU's Dave Rose had the same concern:
Would their locally raised players thrive back home?
Guard Evan Roquemore had a little trouble settling into Saturday night's West Coast Conference quarterfinal.
Roquemore sure had support, though. He hails from Las Vegas, and his contingent could be heard loud and clear at Orleans Arena.
Literally having a "home" court advantage can be a problem, as friends and ticket concerns, among other distractions, can divide focus.
BYU certainly hasn't run into that yet with its Vegas kid, a childhoood friend of Roquemore's.
Junior guard Anson Winder produced 16 points and six steals against Loyola Marymount in an earlier game Saturday. Winder produced three first-half thefts that set the tone on a fairly dominant first-game win.
"I think what has really been a change is just the attitude of our group," Rose said more generically when asked about Winder's defense. "Anson’s defensive presence has really helped us in specific areas. We put him in to start on certain guys, starting with (Gonzaga's Kevin) Pangos and (San Diego's) Johnny Dee and (Saint Mary's senior) Stephen Holt and (Josh) Sharp from Portland. That was kind of the reason for us to make that change, but he has been so good for us offensively, too."
Roquemore finished his college career coming off the bench. He had 12 points in a starer's-like 34 minutes, making 3-of-5 shots in a last-second loss to Gonzaga.
Winder's gone in reverse of his pal, now starting. And he's better for the win column, too.
BYU hasn't lost with him in the starting lineup (6-0), including this current five-game winning streak.
∫Other good family news: Saturday afternoon, the hot topic for BYU followers was Tyler Haws winning in Vegas while his brother won a fourth 5A state high school hoops championship for Lone Peak in Salt Lake City.
That sibling feat was matched by Gonzaga. Guard David Stockton defeated Pacific with a driving layup with 1.5 seconds left to break a tie score. Then he found out his sister finished a title-winning season at Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, Wash. It just so happens the Stocktons' father — a guy by the name of John, you may have heard of him — was an assistant coach.
∫And speaking of Gonzaga: Saint Mary's will face GU in Monday's semifinals. The Bulldogs and Gaels going at it is nothing new — it's happened in every WCC title game since 2008.
This year was different though, as GU is the No. 1 seed and Saint Mary's is an uncharacteristically low No. 4.
SMC also reached its season's low point by getting blasted by GU at home on senior day, 75-47.
SMC shot 23 percent.
"We just didn't compete, didn't play hard," Holt said.
Added center Brad Waldow: "We have to play hard the entire game. We’ll be ready for the full 40 minutes this time.”
∫Not liking the format: If the impression is that GU gets every break and decision in the league it's owned for more than a decade, coach Mark Few isn't buying it.
He flat-out hates the new tournament format. At least the part about the four teams that play before the quarterfinals getting a game in the arena, then a day off before playing in the quarterfinals. GU's longtime coach despised how its late Saturday opponent, Santa Clara, had a chance to play Thursday.
“It’s a setup for a 10-seed or an eight to advance,” he said to reporters after defeating SCU on a last-second layup by Stockton. “They get a day off to rest up, they’re used to the rims, they’re comfortable."
The women's tournament is set up differently. For example, Pepperdine had to play Thursday and then Friday in the quarterfinals against BYU. The Cougars tried to take advantage of the fatigue factor, which didn't exist in the men's bracket. It's unclear if that competitive concern will be addressed in the future. Few had an idea, though.
“What we need to do is take the women’s tournament and move it — let it stand on its own and quit acting like High School Harry," Few said.
According to Urban Dictionary, if you were wondering, High School Harry is a person who has already graduated high school, yet still hangs out at all the high school spots with all the kids still in high school.