BYU Basketball fans will never be happy to see BYU get an NIT bid over an NCAA Tournament invite, but not getting an NIT invite is…not good.
First, I would like to mention that this is an editorial piece and that these words do not represent the overall feelings of FanSided or Lawless Republic. This isn’t a hard news story, but rather an opinion piece of an experienced writer and fan of BYU Basketball.
Last week, before BYU Basketball lost to San Fransisco and Gonzaga, the Cougars were sitting at a three or four seed in the NIT projections across the board. However, following two bad losses, the Cougars are now projected as one of the first teams out in some projections.
Last Tuesday, we said that the SF vs BYU game would be the biggest game of the year. Now it is looking like the final regular season game against San Diego will be the biggest game. Not only do the Cougars have to win, they have to win by a lot or else fans will be sweating on selection Sunday, not over the NCAA Tournament but over an NIT invite.
Going into Tuesday, I was excited for the San Fransisco game. A chance to be the two seed in the WCC Tournament, even though we all knew that BYU would still not be even considered for the NCAA Tournament. Myself and many other fans were excited.
But at this moment I realized something was wrong, regardless of the outcome of the game.
The two losses last week were to good teams and even acceptable, but the overall trend of the team is not going in the right direction. Despite the core group of players getting older for BYU, the final results over the past six years have been increasingly disappointing.
- 2014 saw the Cougars make it into the NCAA Tournament as a 10 seed. Although they lost to Oregon in the first round, this would be the last year that BYU would make the tournament in the field of 64.
- In 2015, BYU Basketball made it into the play-in game as an 11 seed against Ole Miss, or in other words one of the last two teams in, and lost 94-90, failing to advance to the round of 64 teams.
- In 2016, the Cougars were the No. 2 seed in the NIT and advanced all the way to the semi-finals before losing to Valparaiso.
- 2017 saw BYU have even a tougher year in the NIT. Despite earning a three seed, the Cougars lost to UT-Arlington in the first round105-89.
- 2018 was the first year that BYU found themselves on the bottom half of the NIT bracket as a six seed. They lost to the three seed Stanford 86-83.
- 2019? We don’t know yet, but projections currently have them right on the inside or outside of the NIT both of which would be yet another step down.
If you look at the 2014 roster and the 2019 roster there is little argument that 2019’s stacks up better than 2014’s, yet here we are sweating over an NIT invite, not what seed BYU will get in the NCAA Tourney as we were then.
Five years ago, the basketball team would have to travel to the Richards Building to practice if the Marriott Center was not available. Today, the Marriott Center Annex offers 12 basketball hoops to shoot at, a full court replica of the Marriott Center, two half courts, a weight room, study room, film room and full medical room with taping tables, hot tubs, ice baths and even a Cyro Innovations Nitrogen machine.
The fact of the matter is, BYU Basketball is slowly getting worse and worse despite more high school talent and resources. And for the most part, fans are sort of okay with that. There is complaining but it is the kind you hear when there is a lot of traffic or when someone cuts you off; upset, yes, but not to the point of actually doing something about it. There is not a lot of call to change. This is because it has been a slow downfall. I guarantee that if BYU went from the 2011 performance to 2019’s in two seasons, there would be a lot more accountability than what we are seeing.
I fully recognize and know that BYU would not be a Gonzaga this year. But to be finishing likely 4th in the WCC and possibly miss the NIT, or at best be the lowest NIT seed in program history is not acceptable.
During this gradual downfall players have graduated, assistant coaches have left and the annex has been built. The only thing consistent through all of this has been Coach Rose. I love Coach Rose and as a person he is wonderful, but when things aren’t getting better there needs to be something to point to, and through all of this he is the one leading the team.
Rose’s run of 14 straight seasons winning 20 games is in jeopardy this year, but even if he hits it, it can not be the standard to meet to be a successful coach. I get consistency is hard to have, and even having a bad season from time to time happens, but this isn’t time to time or just one bad season. This is a downward trend that has lasted over half a decade.
I’m not a fair weathered fan, I am a fan who is taking a big step back and seeing what is happening and realizing that it is a lot worse than I thought it was.