BYU to Honor Seniors on Wednesday Night

On Wednesday night BYU will honor three seniors on the basketball team: starters Ben Murdock and Sam Burgess, and Vuk Ivanovic, who hasn't played in while due to injury. The game is obviously not the last game of the season, but it is the last game at the Marriott Center, a place where these seniors played a role in helping to put together a 46-game winning streak.

"It probably hasn't been exactly like I expected it, but it's been unbelievable," Sam Burgess said of his time at BYU. "We had a conference championship last year, and hopefully another one this year … you can't ask for more than that."

Well, there is one more thing that Cougar players and fans alike wouldn't mind asking for, and that is to advance in the NCAA Tournament. Don't think that Burgess forgot about that, however.

"You know, it's [kind of] sad to see your last game here, [after] being here four years, but you know, I'm more excited about what we're [going to] do this year … it might be my last game here, but we've got a lot of games left to play, and hopefully we can do something special in the postseason," Burgess said.

In the meantime, Burgess said that it has been good to see what the team has done and where it has gone during the past few years, and that he is glad to have been a part of that. In addition, prior to worrying about the postseason, the team is focused on winning its second outright championship in a row. The last time BYU won back-to-back outright conference championships was during the 1978-79 and 1979-80 seasons. The Cougars are all alone in first place, and Burgess said the team is right where it wants to be.

"We don't have to rely on anyone else," said Burgess. "We control everything that happens. You know, we just have to win our games and [the conference title is] ours to take, and so you can't ask for any better position than that."

With Wednesday's game being Senior Night, it presents an opportunity for the players to get caught up in their emotions and lose focus on the actual game. However, Coach Rose said the staff doesn't prepare for Senior Night any differently than any other game.

"I don't really know exactly how [Senior Night] affects [the seniors], but what we try to do as a coaching staff is to try and to make sure that this is as normal as possible, even though you know it's going to be different," said Rose.

Coach Rose added that there is a lot of energy and emotions on Senior Night, and if the team can control those, they can use them to their advantage.

Of the three seniors - Burgess, Ben Murdock and Vuk Ivanovic - Coach Rose said that the common thing they all share is that they are great teammates, and that they have given their best effort to the team regardless of what roles they've had.

Coach Rose said it is an emotional thing for both the players and the coaching staff to part ways, as they grow really close to each other over the years. Nevertheless, he said he knows it's a process that they go through each year, and he wishes departing players the best. He also added that it is a goal every year to send out the seniors with good feelings and success, after having been part of a good team.

Meanwhile, Coach Rose said he has been able to keep in contact with many different players that he's coached over the years, whether that contact is in person or through emails and text messages.

"There usually is not a day or two that goes by where I haven't heard from one of [my past players]," Coach Rose said.

His former players (whether from when he was a head coach or assistant coach) are scattered all over; some are on the West Coast, some are back east, and some are even overseas. Among the players that Coach Rose has been in some form of contact with recently are Travis Hansen, Mark Bigelow, Mike Rose and Austin Ainge. He also jokingly mentioned that he sees Brock Reichner every once in a while. That should not come as any surprise, as Reichner is Rose's son-in-law.

"That's one of the great parts about coaching: that you have these great relationships for a lifetime," said Coach Rose.

Burgess echoed Rose's sentiments, saying that the things that will probably stick with him the most are the people he has met and the lifelong friendships he has formed.

As for a particular moment that has been his favorite, Burgess could not pick just one.

"You know, this year has [had] some of my most favorites," said Burgess. "The New Mexico game was a lot of fun. But last year we had plenty: beating Utah to win the conference championship at the end of the year, winning at Utah, just huge games last year, and then playing in the NCAA Tournament. That was an experience that I'd never had and it was a lot of fun being at Kentucky at Rupp Arena, and hopefully the best memories are to come. I could list, you know, five or ten, but hopefully our best game and most memorable [moment] will be in the future."

Ben Murdock Update

Speaking of the seniors, Ben Murdock's ankle is gradually getting better according to Coach Rose. Rose said that it was really sore on Sunday after Murdock started against Air Force, but that the soreness was expected.

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