BYU-Portland mbb Zac Seljaas shakes hands with Yoeli

BYU senior Zac Seljaas (center) shakes hands with teammate Yoeli Childs after a win against Portland in the Marriott Center on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020.

Here’s what’s going on inside Darnell’s head on a snowy Sunday in January. I saw on Twitter that there is finally a Mountain Dew Zero (no sugar, no calories). What is this witchcraft? And if my garage is too small to store my supply, what’s a good place to rent a storage facility?

The benefits of experience

One of the complaints former BYU men’s basketball coach Dave Rose brought up repeatedly toward the end of his career was his program’s inability to get old. Whether it was guys transferring or leaving the program to pursue a professional career, Rose never seemed to have a lot of seniors, or as he termed them, “program guys.”

BYU last made the NCAA Tournament in 2015 with four seniors — Tyler Haws, Skyler Halford, Josh Sharp and Anson Winder. The following year, the Cougars reached the semifinals of the NIT with Kyle Collinsworth, Chase Fischer and Nate Austin as seniors. In 2017, BYU failed to make the NCAA Tournament with two seniors — Kyle Davis and L.J. Rose — who both missed a large portion of the season due to injuries. In addition, Eric Mika left the program after that season was over.

In 2018, BYU had zero seniors and Elijah Bryant left early for a pro career after no NCAA bid. Last season, the Cougars didn’t make the NCAA or the NIT with two role playing seniors in McKay Cannon and Luke Worthington.

It’s ironic that Rose retired last spring because this year the Cougars have seven seniors, five on scholarship. There are a couple of key reasons why you want to have seniors and I think this is especially important at BYU.

One is that your program guys will do whatever it takes to win. Guys like Dalton Nixon and Zac Seljaas are willing to accept whatever role they are asked to take on and truly don’t care if they score 20 points or zero points as long as the team wins.

Another key reason you want seniors is that they have seen everything and are able to adjust to changes on the fly.

Twice this season the Cougars have had to make major adjustments in their game plan because Yoeli Childs was unavailable — first when Childs was sitting out nine games due to an NCAA suspension and the last two because of an injured finger. BYU fashioned a 6-3 record without Childs early on and split two games without him last week, losing in overtime at Saint Mary’s and winning big at home against Portland.

Against the Gaels, the Cougars ran a bunch of isolation plays for TJ Haws and Jake Toolson, who combined for 53 points and nearly pulled off the upset. Against the Pilots, it was back to ball movement and cutting and a variety of BYU players hit a bunch of shots, all orchestrated by superior passing from Haws (14 assists, zero turnovers) and Toolson (eight assists, zero turnovers).

Credit the coaching staff for coming up with the different game plans and credit the seniors for being able to focus and get it done each game.

That’s how you post 29 assists and just five turnovers in a game.

Go, team, go

Reason No. 2,312 that life is good: Watching NFL playoff football with my family is awesome. Some of them aren’t big pro football fans but they really get into the outcome of these games. Same with the College Football Championship game.

Plus, we’ll get to eat great food.

A long drop

We took down our Christmas decorations last week, including the projection lights we used instead of hanging lights from the roof. My wife said she wants to hang real lights again next year, which reminds me of this old joke: “My husband is on the roof, only a few inches away from an insurance claim that could completely change my life.”

I’m kidding, honey. We all know you’re the one that gets up on the roof to hang the Christmas lights because I don’t “do it right.”

Rock star

When Jon Stanley came into the BYU-Penn State volleyball match to serve on Friday, you would have thought a pop star Shawn Mendez or actor Leonardo DiCaprio had stepped onto the court based on the reaction from Cougar fans.

Stanley is a redshirt freshman and younger brother to senior setter Wil Stanley. He’s obviously endeared himself to him teammates and BYU fans despite the fact that Friday was the first game of his career. And when Jon Stanley served an ace late in Set 3, the roof nearly came off the Smith Fieldhouse.

Asked about the younger Stanley’s popularity, BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said, “He’s probably some kind of social media star I don’t know about. We love him. We weren’t able to travel him last week (to Loyola-Chicago and Lewis), but every day this week I’ve been telling him, ‘Jon, you’re going to come in and serve an ace.’ His energy is awesome.”

Teammate Davide Gardini said, “We love Jon, so when we heard he was coming in we hoped he would get an ace. That was super cool.”

Welcome to the family

We got a new dog for Christmas. His name is Cooper and he is a 4-year-old cocker spaniel who cracks me up. I mean, how does he decide what to pee on when I take him for a walk? When anyone in the family is eating he fixes us with the most heartfelt stare, even though we tell him this is people food and he doesn’t get any. Plus, he tore apart a couple of toys we got him in about 10 minutes.

He’s a chewer.

But he’s endeared himself to our whole family and is a good dog. Now, it’s time for me to suck it up and figure out how to install a dog door.

I bought a jigsaw. Hopefully I can install the thing without losing a digit.

That all for now, but for this: True friendship is walking into your neighbor’s house and your Wi-Fi connects automatically.

Have a great week.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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