BYU basketball coach Dave Rose still calls his team's next time on the floor a bounce-back game.
The NCAA Tournament is in some ways a new season, the past not totally mattering. The main-bracket teams (64) are merely six games away from being champion.
Yet Rose's point is well taken. His team is again coming off a loss.
That's been the case going into the postseason all six years under Rose in Provo, including this fifth consecutive NCAA bid. His team has never won the conference tournament championship game, so it's gone right to the next step.
This one appears to be a little steeper, just because the recent trend of shooting — aside from Jimmer Fredette — has been peculiar.
His teammates in the last two games of the MWC tournament were a combined 21 for 65 (32 percent) from the field. Fredette's mere presence, his passing or the horde of offensive rebounds the Cougars snared to earn more chances weren't nearly enough in the previous game.
They were 12-for-31 in the semifinals against New Mexico, when Fredette went off for 52 points.
It would be impossible to expect a performance like that the following night. And, what hurt was his teammates were even worse in the Mountain West title game with San Diego State: 9-for-34. Fredette had one more shot made than his teammates that night, even with a worn down body.
"I think it's really important we get ourselves in a positive frame of mind, and we make shots," Rose said on Selection Sunday about what's important besides getting ready as a No. 3 seed to face No. 14 Wofford in Denver on Thursday evening. "We had really good looks at the basket the other night. For whatever reason, we had a hard time getting them. This can be a really consistent offensive rebounding team. When we're in the right mindset, and playing with the right energy, we get a lot of second and third possessions."
BYU has loads of NCAA experience. It remains to be seen how valuable first-timers, freshman Kyle Collinsworth and junior-college transfer Stephen Rogers, handle a unique environment that Rose pointed out astutely just "has a a different" feel than anything in the regular season or even a conference tournament.
Fredette and fellow senior guard Jackson Emery are confident they can help get everyone on the same page, when another off night could be the end of a 30-4 campaign.
Fredette is a marquee, nearly unstoppable scorer. The likely national player of the year honoree should give his team a fighter's chance to get out of the first weekend, keeping alive a national story as he became the face of the game this year. Just the way teams have been forced to guard him will create opportunities. While the team won't talk about it, it's clearly still reeling from a strategic standpoint of how to cope without suspended center Brandon Davies.
Depth has been a major factor with two significant absences, Davies and fellow post player Chris Collinsworth a while back because of a knee injury.
Rogers, who had been a very solid spark off the bench during a good chunk of conference play, is also back to his early-season minutes of being a relative non-factor.
BYU is 3-2 without Davies after rising to No. 3 nationally (after the Feb. 26 win at San Diego State) in significant part because of his development.
"Obviously we have a lot of things to work on ourselves," Emery said.
Fredette is a huge factor, of course. The nation's leading scorer (28.5) accounted for nearly 1/3 of his team's shots made from the field (314 of 939).
But the "supporting cast" lent more than a fair hand, shooting 45 percent on the year (625 of 1,388).
∫Yes, they know each other: BYU and Wofford probably didn't watch each other much this season. But the coaching staffs know each other.
Wofford coach Mike Young relayed a story Monday on a teleconference about getting to know Rose and his fourth-year aide, Terry Nashif, who made several trips to South Carolina (where he happened to also serve an LDS mission) to recruit recent signee Damarcus Harrison. Harrison played his senior year at a private school in North Carolina, yet Young said he was impressed with the time and energy the Cougars put into Harrison.
"They recruited (Harrison) and never blinked," Young said. "They recruited him hard. It was like every gym I went into, and it was like two or three times, and Damarcus Harrison was there, lo and behold, here sits Dave and Terry. And I accused them of having a rental property in South Carolina.
"The job they did with that kid, following him and pursuing him. It came down to Clemson and a couple others. But golly, If there was a staff that deserved to get a good player, it was them. They worked hard at it.
"I just admire the heck out of Dave and Terry. Terry called me (Sunday) night. We had a nice chat. It will be nice to play them. I don't look forward to playing their team, I will tell you that."
∫Cute kid: Check out this clip of a little BYU fan having trouble with handling that Cougar loss last weekend to SDSU: