BYU set a record last night both in terms of largest NCAA tournament comeback ever as well as setting a school record with the first time in school history winning an NCAAT game for three years in a row. I was back and forth on the game. If you read this week’s Ask the Ineligibles you’ll know we all picked BYU to win. But if you ask Carl he’ll tell you that in my first version of the final question, I picked Iona to win this game. And it wasn’t too long into last night’s game that I thought I blew my pick. Halftime came and I was getting increasingly interested in playing Draw Something on my iPod.
I fast-forwarded through half-time and must have hit a funny button because when I saw the game start back up, I hit play and to my dismay, there was only two minutes left. Then much to my delight, the Cougars were up one point. Well, at that point, I couldn’t very well rewind the game, so I watched it out. When Brock Zylstra grabbed that ball and raced the length of the court I expected a foul. When he cut to the hoop I thought he was going to blow it somehow and overshoot the lay-up. But he made it! And I about fell out of my seat.
From there, the Cougars iced the game and I knew I had to go back to the start of the half to get some context for this historic comeback. What I saw was so atypical of a BYU team. I saw adjustments being made. I saw the rotation change and expand. DeMarcus Harrison provided an unlikely spark from someone who hadn’t seen any minutes since before the West Coast Conference Championships. I saw Craig Cusick work deliberately to manage a game and keep the flow of the offense simple rather than the attempted track meet Matt Carlino was running in the first half. The Cougars were patient on offense and let the big men start playing like big men. The shooters did what I hoped they would do and knocked down 35% of their long-range shots. The team started figuring out that patience and size were their allies in the game and they took full advantage. Kudos to Dave Rose, his staff, and his team for providing a fun and exciting end to night one and a start to this 2012 NCAA tournament in true March Madness style.
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