Tony Ingle has lost game after game as BYU's interim basketball coach, but he hasn't lost his sense of humor.
"I feel like Jerry Lewis coaching against Carl Lewis," he said after Thursday's 40-point loss to TCU. Moments later, after shaking hands with a high school recruit who had come to watch the Cougars play, he said, "Bring your shoes next time; we'll play you."Laughing and crying are the same release, Joni Mitchell sang. The Cougars and Ingle are enduring the worst season of basketball in school history, and things don't appear to get better anytime soon.
BYU, 1-12, will meet SMU, 10-4, tonight in Dallas at 6:30 MST. Both teams will attempt to bounce back from lopsided losses and injuries to their best players.
Stephen Woods, SMU's star freshman point guard who averages 15 points per game, will not play tonight. He sprained an ankle against Utah on Thursday. With Woods on the floor, the Mustangs played the Utes evenly for a half; without him they were routed 74-57.
Meanwhile, Jeff Campbell, BYU's lone senior and top scorer (17.5 points per game), never left the bench in Thursday's 101-61 loss to TCU because of a back injury. His status for tonight's game won't be determined until before the tipoff.
"It hurts," says Ingle. "It sets up a mental thing. The Indians follow the chief. Jeff is a senior and our go-to guy."
Campbell also missed the second half of last Saturday's game against Utah, as well as the TCU game. In both games, only one BYU player scored in double figures - Justin Weidauer, with 11 points in each.
"We've got to have guys who can step up and hit open shots," says Ingle, whose team is shooting 40 percent from the field and averaging just 63 points per game.
"We've got to look for something positive," Ingle says after each loss, but it isn't easy. There is this: Weidauer, who struggled throughout the preseason, has played dramatically better since conference play began. He has averaged 11.3 points and 11 rebounds in three league games.
The Cougars' weaknesses are especially obvious in road games, where they have lost by margins of 51, 17, 19, 22, 28 and 40 points (a 29-point average).
"This is tough for the kids," said Ingle after the TCU rout. "It's tough to bounce back for SMU."
SMU, 6-1 on its home court, will start three seniors and two juniors against BYU's young team. Jay Poerner, a 6-10 center, averages 16 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Guard Jemeil Rich averages 12 points.