BYU San Diego Basketball

Brigham Young forward Gavin Baxter, center, grabs a rebound alongside teammate forward Yoeli Childs, right, as San Diego forward Yauhen Massalski defends, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Here’s what’s going on inside Darnell’s head, where my mind is made up so don’t confuse me with the facts.

Let’s talk about second place

With three games remaining in West Coast Conference play, it appears second is where the BYU men’s basketball team could finish. That’s not a big surprise — the Cougars have finished second or third in all seven previous seasons it has been in the league — but a couple of months ago, I was pretty sure BYU would finish in the middle of the pack. That was back when the Cougars couldn’t win a game on the road and were getting blown out by any decent team with a pulse.

Something has happened to Dave Rose’s team. I think they finally understand what it takes to play consistent defense and the 3-point shooting has finally come around. They are 5-2 on the road in league play and recovered from double-digit deficits to beat both San Diego and Loyola Marymount this weekend.

A win on Thursday at home against San Francisco would probably be the clincher for BYU, which also must go to Gonzaga and hosts San Diego to end the regular season. The Gaels also have to play Gonzaga and will travel to San Diego as well.

It’s probably too late for this improvement to get BYU into the NCAA Tournament unless it can pull off an upset of Gonzaga in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks, but you take whatever momentum you can get and make something of it. Remember, this is a young team with only two seniors. Getting to the NIT and winning a few games might be something worthwhile as they eye next season.

We all know Gonzaga is just in another stratosphere. Second place for the Cougars would be a nice accomplishment and gets them a bye to the semifinals of the WCC Tournament. It’s still basketball. Anything could happen.

Changes are coming?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints announced last week it would allow its missionaries to call home weekly instead of just twice a year (Christmas and Mother’s Day) and I was amazed at how polarizing the responses were by those on social media.

I think that a similar policy when I served would have been distracting, but that was more than 30 years ago. Times have changed. We’ve raised a generation of multitaskers with a cellphone in one hand and a tablet in the other. I suppose there are those who will be aided by the change, but like any rule, it has the capacity to be abused as well.

With all these recent policy changes by the LDS Church, I wonder: Could the honor code be next?

BYU’s honor code is obviously very important to the school’s mission, but at times it also seems a bit archaic (no beards???) and holds the students to a higher standard than regular members. Maybe it’s time for a bit of a shake-up.

Big upset

Speaking of second place, the BYU women’s basketball team likely solidified its hold on second place with a 66-64 win at No. 13 Gonzaga on Saturday. Not only is it the first time the Cougars have swept the series with the Zags since joining the WCC in 2011-12, but it was their first win in Spokane in 18 years. In eight previous visits, BYU had lost by an average of 24 points and its closest loss was by 14 points in 2010.

The only other team to beat Gonzaga this year was Notre Dame when the Irish were ranked No. 1 in the country.

In other words, Saturday was a really, really big win.

Gonzaga leads the WCC with a 12-2 record, one game in the loss column ahead of BYU (12-3). The Cougars end the season with home games against San Diego (1-14), San Francisco (2-12) and Santa Clara (4-10).

The Zags finish with road games at Santa Clara and San Francisco and home games against Pepperdine (10-4) and Loyola Marymount (8-6).

Regardless of whether the Cougars catch Gonzaga, BYU has a great shot at finishing second and, just like the men, receiving a bye all the way to the semifinals.

Listen up

This is not a political column by any stretch of the imagination, but I did have a good chuckle reading former BYU basketball standout Mark Durrant’s tweet this week.

“I’m glad I’m not a Democrat. I don’t have time to run for president this year.”

Follow him @DurrantMark if you need a good laugh.

The long, boring game

Volleyball is a sport where the women’s game is sometimes much more entertaining than the men’s game.

In the women’s game, there are long rallies. In the men’s game, we often are subjected to dozens of service errors only occasionally interrupted by spectacular play.

Another thing I’ve noticed recently is that if the video challenge system is available, get ready to add another 20-30 minutes to a match. The BYU-USC men’s match on Saturday had some interminable waits for video replay. USC coach Jeff Nygaard must get a salary bonus if he utilizes all of his challenges because he burned through all three in less than two sets — losing all three, by the way, but effectively creating a stall tactic to keep BYU from gaining any momentum until much later in the match.

Spring is coming

I was a little worried when the BYU baseball team managed just 11 hits in splitting the first two games of the season against Northwestern in Arizona. But the bats came alive in Game 3, with the Cougars banging out 13 hits in an 11-2 win. On Monday, BYU has a pretty big challenge against Cal. It’s way early, but the vibe coming from Mike Littlewood’s crew is pretty good.

That’s it for now, but for this: Don’t yell at your kids. Lean in close and whisper. It’s much scarier.

Have a great week.

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