BYU comeback display’s Dave Rose’s best coaching job ever

Long after BYU’s historic comeback victory over Iona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament here, folks were still buzzing about the dramatic game.

You can paint it a couple of ways, BYU was tremendous or Iona choked.

By Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

When Brandon Davies blocked a shot in the final seconds and Brock Zylstra took it the distance for a lay-in and was fouled and converted, the Cougar comeback from 25 points down left the arena drained.  The first game was similar, but this one took the prize.

Twice in the second half, BYU’s smothering zone confused and frustrated Iona’s guard-heavy offense.  Iona had two long scoring droughts of more than 9 and 4 minutes in the second half and it doomed them as BYU plodded along with Davies and Noah Hartsock delivering bucket after bucket.

I credit Dave Rose for this win. It was one of his best coaching efforts of his career.  Consider his team was beat up and embarrassed at half, giving up 55 points.  His backcourt panicked and stopped or short-circuited the offense by taking ill-advised quick shots.  He had the courage to sit down Matt Carlino and go with the junior Craig Cusick and he trusted that if he put in Demarcus Harrison, who’d played sparingly and scarce minutes all year, he’d make some plays.

Rose also trusted that his zone defense would produce stops.  It did. Time and time again, Iona’s quick guards made their moves and came up against Hartsock and Davies and a weakside adjustment and it toppled their confidence and led to turnovers or bad shots.

It was a remarkable comeback, perhaps one of the best in school history.  Yes, it was against a No. 14 seed, but the Cougars have not been playing very well of late and they looked cooked and done early in this game.

Rose’s ability to create a vision of winning for his team at halftime was a remarkable feat of selling a belief, even if it appeared impossible to sell, he did it.

I credit Davies, Hartsock, Zylstra and Cusick for making big plays in this win.  But I’ve got to say this was one of the finest coaching jobs ever by Rose.



  1. motorpike

    “I credit Dave Rose for this win. It was one of his best coaching efforts of his career. Consider his team was beat up and embarrassed at half, giving up 55 points.”

    Could not disagree more. This never should’ve been a ballgame. Anyone with a basketball IQ knew that BYU’s only chance of losing this game was to get caught up in playing Iona’s game and what did Coach Rose allow his players to do for the first 16 minutes while digging a 25 point hole????

    I give credit to Rose for making the adjustment and getting the win, but it amazed me that he would play into Iona’s hands like that in the first place. The truth is that Iona is not a good team and Rose was very fortunate that his coaching mistake didn’t cost his team the game and was even more fortunate that Iona couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn after hitting the 55 point mark with 4 1/2 left in the first half.

    • Daver

      Not sure if this was Rose’s best coaching effort, but it was a good one. I was in the Dayton arena watching and Iona was so hot in the first 10 minutes that it was difficult for the coach (any coach) to quickly rein in the carnage. BYU was a bit flat but Iona shot the lights out even with defenders hanging on them sometimes. Folks around me were awed by the shooting spree. Eventually Iona cooled off as they had to, and I think the coaching adjustments really helped changed the nature of the whole game. Watching it as it happened was incredible. Rose surely didn’t “play into Iona’s hands” and the defensive pressure once the hot streak ended was great.

    • JR Fezziwig

      “The truth is that Iona is not a very good team …”

      Ummm, the truth is that Iona is a 25-win team with victories over a 17-win ACC member Maryland, a 20-win St. Joseph team, and a 20-win Denver team. The truth is that Iona is the nation’s highest-scoring team this year. The truth is that the Iona point guard averages 10 assists per game.

      Looks to me like the truth is that Iona is a very good team, and it didn’t surprise me that BYU, after 10 days off, was a bit sluggish and out of sync to start the game. We’ve seen it before with many teams. It didn’t surprise me to see BYU trying to play at Iona’s speed, because that’s the speed the Cougars like to play at anyway.

      What does surprise me is the assertion that Iona isn’t very good. Certainly it isn’t a top tournament seed — but no one said it was.

  2. Steve Andrus

    I think tonight showed the brilliance of Dave Rose! To be able to make his team believe they could win after the horrible first half they played and also have the guts to bench Abouo and Carlino in favor of a walk-on (Cusick) and a freshman who hadn’t played meaningful minutes since January (Harrison) took real guts. Switching to the half court zone trap slowed the pace and enabled BYU to spread Iona out and stopped it’s running game. Cusick may have been the MVP of the game, 8 assists and 5 rebounds Vs. 1 turnover is impressive and more than his numbers it was how he got the team settled down and into the offense. Dave is showing why he one of the best coaches in the country.

    When I get frustrated with this team I have to remind myself that this team lost Jimmer, Jackson, Collinsworth to a mission, another Collinsworth to injury, Rodgers to injury, Hartsock looks like a train hit him, Abouo has been out of it for weeks and Carlino is one of many freshman playing meaningful roles on this team! This has been one of the best coaching performances I have ever seen.

  3. Brady S

    Definitely has to be one of his most satisfying wins. I know I felt sick when BYU was down by 25, and wondered if it was even worth my while to keep watching. I have to think that the players were feeling terrible as well,so for coach Rose to help lead them back, and to keep them confident that they could win it, it was an amazing job.

  4. bublnet

    This year has been Rose’s best coaching year. I’m confused why he doesn’t get more press and people atleast in Utah aren’t taking notice of what he’s done at BYU. This year is big because it’s post Jimmer, no Collingsworth, no Rogers, limping Hartsock, and freshman galore. Yet he has 26 wins, another advance in the NCAA’s and he reloads again for next year. Then factor in the recruiting pool is small compared to other schools who can convenienlty look the other way, and the BYU story with Rose is an incredible tale.

  5. Maury

    Totally agree with Harmon. And what I love is you can feel a growing shift in BYU’s confidence and reputation in the Big Dance. Had we lost the way the game started it would’ve erased last year and given more fodder for dismissing it as all Jimmer. Of course, the run last year was Jinmer, but it’s awesome to see the program building a reputation better than one and out!

  6. Melba Gulliver

    What a great game. I watched the first half and was ready to give up. I don’t know how they could come back from so far down. I am 86 and that was one of the best wins I have ever seen. My hat goes off to coach Rose.

  7. Rob

    Great Job, Coach Rose! Extra nice win against a pretty good team. Amazing to believe enough to chip away and overcome a 25 pt. lead. Congratulations. Dave Rose is a fine coach and a class act! And I’m a big time Noah Hartsock fan. Put the ball in his hands and good things happen!

  8. Mark Stoddard

    Dick is correct. The Greatest Comeback Since Lazurus. Granted it wasn’t the championship game, but it was a win in the NCAA Tournament. And Iona is a very good team as 25 other teams will attest.

    Here are a couple of more moves Rose made:
    1. To start the comeback he started pulling back from offensive boards and sent 3 guys back. A classic Majerus move that worked so well. Once he did that the guards of Iona had to work harder.
    2. Rose knew Iona fades in games because they have a very weak bench. By dropping 3 back, playing an active zone that made the Iona team work, he wore them out, physically and mentally.
    3. Rose stopped the BYU guards from shooting so much and had them pound the ball inside, causing the Iona inside players to foul, ending up in foul-outs by several key inside players for Iona.

    Excellent coaching. Hope he has some magic for Marquette.

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