Defending a title with your team intact is one thing, but it's another thing when your team has lost three starters, one of which was last season's Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. Nevertheless, Plaisted said the team had a great feeling about its chance to repeat as the conference champ despite the loss of some key players, and he talked about what has helped the team overcome those losses.
"I think the thing that makes this year's team special is our ability to defend, and you know, we really get after it on the defensive end," said Plaisted. "And obviously we're able to score points, but I think our defense is what wins games for us."
Many Cougar fans naturally worry about there being a letdown when the team plays at TCU on Saturday, given the fact that BYU has already clinched the outright title and the top seed in the conference tournament, and is playing a team much lower in the conference standings. Thus, it would seem that the Cougars have little to play for and could also underestimate their opponent. However, in addition to playing for a good seed in the NCAA Tournament, Plaisted has plenty of motivation to play well; he will be returning to his home state, and he plans on having a lot of friends and some old coaches in attendance to see him play.
"That's not something you get to have happen very often, so it will be really special for me," Plaisted said.
The TCU game will also be a homecoming of sorts for Coach Rose, another Texas native.
"Well, I think that the most interesting thing about playing at TCU is that I played in [TCU's] Daniel-Meyer Coliseum when I was playing at the University of Houston," Coach Rose said.
During Rose's playing days, TCU and Houston were in the same conference. He recalled winning an overtime game at TCU as a junior, and then winning a double overtime game at TCU as a senior. Rose said it was similar to how he can't go back to the Pit at New Mexico and not think about the national championship game his Houston squad played there.
As for the here and now, Coach Rose is not worried about his team's mental state going into the TCU game.
"One thing that has always been a real priority for us is to make sure we're getting better," Rose said, "and that's what we want to do on Saturday night, is go out there and play well, and play how we play, and really compete well, knowing we're playing against a really good team that's going to be a good challenge."
In regards to the one-game-at-a-time philosophy, Coach Rose said there are times when people have to fight their personality and just get through it. However, don't expect Rose to be one of those people.
"For me, that's not an issue," said Coach Rose. "There are times seriously when I don't know who we're [going to] play next until after we just finish the game."
True to form, Rose was not aware that a win on Saturday would set a new BYU record for regular-season wins (25), or that the team could also conceivably match or break the BYU record for total wins in a season (28). It seems as though Coach Rose and his team aren't just dispensing clichés when they talk about not focusing on the past or the future, but only on the present.
"I think that that's a real sign of maturity when you can let whatever happens go, and then move on," said Coach Rose. "We've done a good job in both situations; we've done a good job when we really needed to let it go because we didn't play very well, and then we've had some real emotional situations … that could lead to a letdown, and you [have to] let that go and prepare for the next one."
Plaisted to go Pro?
One hot topic of discussion among BYU fans is whether or not Trent Plaisted will opt to forgo his senior year at BYU in favor of entering the NBA. In an interview with Greg Wrubell after the Wyoming game on Wednesday, Plaisted said he would not make a decision regarding that until later on. The next day after practice, Total Blue Sports asked Plaisted not about what his decision would be, but rather what factors would weigh into his eventual decision, whatever it will be. Plaisted was still noncommittal.
"That's something that's to be looked at later on down the line," said Plaisted. "You know, talk to me in three weeks, and then maybe I'll even start to even think about it or contemplate it. But right now, I'm just worried about, you know, going to the Mountain West Conference Tournament, going to TCU, you know, winning these games that we got coming up, and then that stuff will be addressed."