It's the week of the Utah-BYU rivalry game, so that means it's time to pull out the fiery rhetoric, right? Maybe not. So far, BYU coach Steve Cleveland and Utah coach Rick Majerus are positively gushing about the opposition.
It actually started off this past weekend, when Majerus said he "loved" BYU forward Justin Weidauer. "He's a great player. That's why I offered him a scholarship. I keep telling people they're a good team," Majerus said.By Monday, Cleveland was on the same page. "This may seem strange," said Cleveland, "but just speaking of Utah, I've been as impressed with that program as any program in America the last few years. I don't mind saying that. Because in saying that, it means that's where we want to be."
If you're a live-and-let-live kind of person, this sort of talk among rivals is good news. But if you're the no-prisoners type, it makes you wish Wayne ("I hate BYU!") Howard was still around.
ACHING BONES: Speaking of Weidauer, he is the lone senior on the BYU team. He is also the only player who was around when the Cougars were a 20-game winner. Weidauer was with the 1991-92 team that went 25-7, tied for the WAC title, won the WAC Tournament and played in the NCAA Tournament.
But Weidauer may not be around this week. Bothered by two badly sprained ankles, he didn't practice last week and played hurt over the weekend.
"He's been in pain all year," said Cleveland. "There hasn't been a single game or practice in which he did not play with excruciating pain - ankles, knees, back, he's had it all."
Added Cleveland, "I'm not sure about this week. I don't know if he'll play that much."
EASY RIDER: Assistant coach Heath Schroyer loves his Harley-Davidson. All he needs is a place to store it.
Schroyer, who assisted Cleveland at Fresno City College, lives in the same condominium as another coach, Nate Call, and has had trouble finding a suitable place to park his motorcycle. Consequently, he began fall practices parking it along the outside wall on the lower level of the Marriott Center, just outside the coaches' office.
Predictably, BYU parking services took a dim view of the practice and eventually asked Schroyer to park his hog someplace else. For now, that happens to be in the garage of another BYU assistant, Dave Rose.
Word is the parking people got serious about getting the Harley moved when they learned of an upcoming visit by an LDS General Authority and didn't want the church leader to be greeted by a Harley at the front door.
STATE OF THE COUGS: With eight games left in the season, and their hopes for a berth in the conference tournament fading, Cleveland says his team is going back to basics.
"We're going back to practice, and we're going to work as hard as we did in September,' Cleveland said. "We're going to work on our defensive stance, individual skill work and try instilling con-fi-dence."
Cleveland said he knows his team is an underdog in all the remaining games. That probably even includes Air Force, which beat the Cougars in January at Colorado Springs.
"We need the next four weeks of practice to be committed to the point that we can look back and say we worked as hard as we could."