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An update on the Cougs' basketball scheduling strategy ...

OK, I wasn’t planning on writing again this week — we’re not trying to load up your inbox with posts — but this was too good not to share with y’all. I’m not going to say that Kyle Smith reads these newsletters, but I’m not not saying it, either.

On Tuesday morning, I sent out a post detailing just how difficult the Cougs’ schedule had been this season, pointing out that their strength of schedule in the Pac-12 was No. 1 and that their national SOS was No. 5.

Tuesday evening, Smith got on his coach’s show with Matt Chazanow and said this:

“We looked at it, with John1, earlier — it’s the fourth or fifth hardest schedule in the country, but also number one in the Pac-12,” Smith said. “We’ve had the hardest schedule in the Pac-12. So it's like — sheesh! It does mean it gets easier, but that’s been a tough stretch.”

COINCIDENCE?

I’ll let you decide.

Joking aside, I actually thought this might be interesting to you as a follow up to Tuesday’s newsletter. You can watch the relevant portion below, and I’ve also provided a transcript. (Lightly edited for clarity, to account for Smith’s brain often moving faster than his words.)

As always, thanks for subscribing, and Go Cougs!

CHAZANOW: I gotta ask — was that the plan? Do you want to have a top five schedule difficulty?

SMITH: No! [laughs] No, never again. Like I said I think I told you it's like we knew that healthy, I feel we had a good team. We said, you know, we wanted to take on some challenges and try to elevate the profile of our program. I knew it wouldn't affect our NET — like our NET’s still pretty good — if we picked up a couple more wins we'd be … you know, if we're 13-12 right now, we're top 40 team … but you don't want to be playing around with .500 or whatever.

We didn't have enough home games in our non-conference, really — and we played really well at home. So it was trying with the injuries and that stuff, but you know — you need a little more, a few more breaks in the schedule I'd imagine.

CHAZANOW: When was the game this year — was it Baylor, was it UNLV, maybe even earlier, maybe it was right away, maybe it was right away against Boise, like, right off the off the tip — where you go, “This is gonna be really really hard but we're pretty darn good. We're gonna compete in all these games.” When did you get a sense of your identity?

SMITH: I thought, uh, I — it was maybe not ‘til — [gutteral tone] — it just was — we weren’t able to get it because Andre goes down. You know I felt good when we had our two scrimmages. We played really well, and it's like we're kind of a new team and then Andre [Jakimovski] gets turf toe, and [DJ] Rodman gets sick in the Boise game, and then playing Prairie View … then Jabe [Mullins] goes down, and it's like — so we’ve just been piecing it together and haven't been able to quite do that.

But I felt, obviously, we played well in Arizona — that helped. You know what? I know we put them in a bad spot in that Christmas, you know, when Baylor went, Christmas, and then we came out of that, we played really well against UCLA and USC, and we've kind of been — we've been there, you know, we've been competitive. We've just got to keep punching away.

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