Just three weeks ago BYU was the toast of the town when Ty Detmer came to the Big Apple to accept the Heisman Trophy.
This week, BYU bombed on Broadway as the basketball team lost two games in the Holiday Festival, including an 85-70 defeat to Rutgers Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.The loss was the Cougars' worst of the year and caused Coach Roger Reid to keep his troops in the locker room for 33 minutes after the game. Reid wasn't happy at all with his club's play.
"That's our worst performance of the year," he said. "I don't think we did anything well tonight. I don't know if it made a difference coming back from playing South Carolina tough the other night, but it shouldn't."
The same disease that has plagued the Cougars on and off all season - the dreaded TOs (turnovers) - came back to haunt them Saturday.
The Cougars turned the ball over the first three times they had the ball, setting the tone for the whole evening. By the end of the night they had 22 TOs. "That's good enough to get you beat by 20 points," said Reid, whose team did trail by 20 in the final minute.
The fact that BYU was playing in the consolation of the 39th annual tournament, shouldn't have made any difference according to Reid.
"That's the thing that disappoints me," he said. "Every game is the World Series to me. We're playing a good basketball team at Madison Square Garden in New York. I though we had more character."
BYU got a good performance from Steve Schreiner, who responded well as a starter again with 16 points on 7 of 9 shooting. Shawn Bradley, who revealed that he has been battling the stomach flu all week, scored 21 points, but was below his season averages with 7 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.
Those two didn't get much help, however. Nathan Call played 36 minutes but was virtually invisible with 3 points and 3 assists. Scott Moon was 0 for 6 from the field. Jared Miller had 5 turnovers, mostly on offensive fouls, while Mark Heslop shot 2 for 8 from the field.
"We didn't come ready to play," said Bradley, who again patiently waited around afterwards answering questions from various media. He said his teammates shouldn't have been emotionally drained from the close loss to nationally-ranked South Carolina Thursday. "Give Rutgers credit. We just weren't ready to play."
The Scarlet Knights, who broke a 3-game losing streak and improved to 6-3 on the year, were led by forward Keith Hughes with 24 points and center Brent Dabbs with 20.
"That's the way I'd like to see us play all the time," said Rutgers Coach Bob Wenzel. "We adjusted to Bradley real well. He's a heckuva player. We're not going to schedule them two years from now when he comes back from his mission, I'll tell you that."
The Cougars, now 6-7, got off to a shaky start, committing turnovers on their first three possessions. They actually took a lead at 6-5, but then were outscored 14-2 as the Scarlet Knights turned up the fullcourt pressure.
The lead went as high as 17 at 30-13 with 8:07 left when Hughes scored a pair of slam dunks and a 3-pointer. The Cougars made a brief rally with seven straight to close within 38-31 at the half.
Two nights earlier, the Cougars had trailed by seven at the half and came out strong with a 9-1 run to take the lead and nearly win the game.
This time, however, the Cougars had no such rally in their arsenal. Rutgers kept a steady 10-point lead and then extended it with a spurt midway through the half. When it got to 73-57 at the four-minute mark, Reid cleared his bench.
Asked why he took so long afterwards with his team, Reid said, "I told them we played a very tough preseason schedule and now we play for real. Now it's the WAC and everybody's 0-0. We didn't play well tonight and we need to come back and play well this week."
Considering what happened to the football team, you could say Saturday was certainly no `Holiday' for the BYU athletic program.
GAME NOTES: The N.Y. Daily News reported Saturday morning that the Holiday Festival may be in trouble because of decreasing attendance. Only 9,000-plus watched the first-round games and only 3,000 or so were present for the BYU-Rutgers contest . . . The Cougars play at San Diego State Thursday and at Hawaii Saturday . . . This is the first time since 1985-86 that BYU has gone into WAC play with a losing record.