One Game at a Time

With six games left in the season, BYU head coach Steve Cleveland is taking a simplified approach with his team. Coach Cleveland is only concerned with two things: preparing for his next opponent and extracting the most effort possible from his players.

BYU head basketball coach Steve Cleveland has three things on his mind right now: Wyoming's wings/guards – Jay Straight, Dion Sherrel and Jerry Webb.

"Right now," Cleveland said, "I'm trying to figure out how to guard those three wings – they're really athletic – and how to keep the ball away from [Justin] Williams."

A month ago, when BYU lost 83-71 in Laramie, the three wings combined for 39 points. Williams added another 19. The game though was close for the most part, BYU even led in the second half before the Cowboys pulled ahead in the end.

Wyoming is the first of a two game home-stand that, with two wins, could see the Cougars double their wins in conference play from two to four. Coach Cleveland though is taking it one game at a time.

"To be honest," he said, "I haven't given five seconds thought to Colorado State. We need to focus on the task at hand. When the (Wyoming) game is over, we'll start working on CSU."

Guard Jimmy Balderson knows not only how important these two games are, but what it will take to win them as well.

"These two games are huge for us," he said. "They're home games. We have to have a sense of urgency, like coach always says. We can't be casual with these two games. But we can't be thinking two games; we have to get the first game first. We've got to come out and give everything for that game."

The two home games come a good time for BYU as they hit the road for three straight after these two. It is arguably the toughest road swing in conference play – at New Mexico, at Air Force, at Utah. It is a chance for the young Cougars to regain some of their confidence and get ready for the final stretch of the season.

To get ready for these final games, Coach Cleveland has taken the team back to the basics. Some might wonder why basics are being stressed so late into the season, but Cleveland has a reason.

"I don't want to look back in April and say, ‘I wish we had worked harder,'" Cleveland offered. "We're not going to look back and say, ‘we wish.' There's not going to be any of that. I want to get everything I can out of this group. That's why we've gone back to the basics. It's critical to getting as much as we can out of these young men."

Wyoming seems to be getting quite a bit out of its players right now. They've won three in a row and four of their last five. They are playing with a lot of confidence and will really test the Cougars.

In addition to Wyoming's excellent wing play of late, there are BYU players of concern to Cleveland. Center Derek Dawes and guard Austin Ainge have been limited in practice this week due the flu that is spreading amongst the team. Mike Hall has also been afflicted, but he has been able to practice. Cleveland is hoping fatigue will not be a factor this weekend.

Other non-healthy players include Keena Young, who sprained his ankle in the second half against San Diego State. He is expected to play and be at full strength. His back-up, Garner Meads, will most likely not play as he continues to rehab a deep bruise on his leg. Cleveland said that Garner's injury is "not responding to any treatment."

Cleveland and the players are not worrying about who will and won't play, and they aren't concerned with conference tournament seedings. They have one thing on their minds:

"We're just trying to win as many games as we can," the coach said. "We've got six left and we're going to make an effort to try and win all of them."


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