Usually a BYU basketball season that includes wins again Texas, Stanford, and Gonzaga, along with a season sweep of Saint Mary’s could be considered a successful one. However, the 2014 campaign might go down as the season that got away from the Cougars. It could have been so much more for BYU.
While the team that BYU put on the floor could be exciting at times–even the majority of the time–it could likewise be painful to observe. Losses to programs like Portland and Pacific cannot be tolerated from a program with the alleged prestige of BYU. While Portland is a much improved squad, their talent doesn’t match BYU’s. And the loss to Pacific is just not supposed to happen. Much like football, if BYU wants to compete with the big boys, they need to act like the big boys.
Their entrance into the March Madness tournament was a splendid surprise. However, there are too many questions that need answering concerning this season, and those to come in the near future.
Was their bid into the NCAA tournament really a surprise? Why should the Cougars consistently be surprised to be let into the tournament? Why should that be the goal every year? Why can’t they beat Gonzaga more than one time every other season? Is Tyler Haws really elite?
These questions bring into light a larger question of the program. Dave Rose no doubt is the leader of this program and has made it into a contender every year. However, is contending for a West Coast Conference title really where BYU should be right now? When they came into the WCC a few years ago, the expectation, at least from a fan perspective, was to dominate. That was a fair expectation considering who BYU has played year in, year out for over a decade in the Mountain West. The Cougars should accept nothing less than being favorites in this conference. It’s that simple.
It won’t be easy with a program like Gonzaga. However, when you think about it, can you name another thing that Gonzaga cares about more than basketball? Their basketball program is the life blood of their university. It should be selling out their 8,000 person stadium every game. It should be recruiting the best Canadian born players every year. However, BYU has the money, the resources, the network, and the “power” to win on a consistent basis, don’t they?
BYU had a season that really could have brought this program to new heights. They fell short in the critical contests time and time again this year. Such is the case in the debacle against Oregon, the bird that flew away against Iowa State, and the effort that was just not good enough again Wichita State. BYU needs to expect more of themselves if they are ever to be taken seriously. And it needs to start next year; otherwise, cougar fans across the globe need to be okay with mediocrity and underperforming athletes across the board.
BYU should consider taking the route of Notre Dame with a slogan/phrase in their locker room that they touch before every contest. The quote that should hang fittingly comes from Gordon B. Hinckley:
“Mediocrity will never do. You are capable of so much more.”