Much to the chagrin of his coaches and the BYU guards, Cosic loves to lead the fast break. In practice, back-courtmen have to steal the ball from him to touch it; on occasion he and Fryer have come close to blows. But he is far from being a selfish player; his passing, in fact, may be the strongest point of his game. (Last weekend he was credited with 10 assists, but his teammates blew at least eight other layups after deft passes from the Yugoslav.) Naturally this is all so much Croatian hot dog (kobasica), and it drives some of the Cougars to fury. "I'd like to hit him with a two-by-four sometimes," says Fryer.
"No care," says Cosic. "This is way I always do. No. 1 thing is win. No. 2 is please crowd. If I don't play to crowd in Zadar, oh boy, they throw rock."
Before BYU's opener with Kansas State, Cosic demonstrated his supreme confidence during a team meeting. Disagreeing vehemently with Watts' plan to have him go outside against a 6'7" man, Cosic fairly shouted, "Who is this what I have never heard in my life 6'7" person can stop such as myself? Why every time that I cannot go inside basket where I can work over this little kid?" The team broke up, but some of the laughter was in derision. A few of the Cougars are resentful of the attention and publicity Cosic has received. "The rest of us make a mistake and the crowd gets on us," says one. "Cosic can fall on his nose and it's a standing ovation. Sometimes he hurts us with his circus act."
Against Kansas State, however, BYU was in trouble until Cosic went to work. With his team leading by only 46-45 with five minutes gone in the second half, Cosic banked one in off the glass from a sharp angle. After a turnover, he took a pass at the top of the circle while facing 6'3" Jack Thomas in a mismatch. Cosic cradled the ball, swooped it over the head of Thomas and behind his own head in one motion. While the bewildered Thomas looked for the ball, Cosic dribbled around him and through two other men for an astonishing basket. Moments later he took a defensive rebound, went behind his back on the dribble at midcourt and fired perfectly to Fryer for a layup. Next he threw a jumping 25-foot hook pass to Phil Tollestrup for another layup. BYU led by nine, and the Marriott was jumping, too. Cosic laughed all the way to the bench.
"He's a man among little boys," said Kansas State Coach Jack Hartman after the game. "The looniest guy with talent ever," said St. Joseph's Jack McKinney, who had to find a way to defend against him Saturday night. Bantom had overshadowed Gianelli 20 points to 10 in St. Joe's 64-58 victory (the Pacific center fouled out after playing less than half the game), but Cosic would be a different story. In the title game the teams stayed practically even until six minutes remained. Then Bantom wheeled inside for three baskets, and the Hawks led 68-64. Tollestrup countered with two buckets over the St. Joe zone, and when Cosic hit a long one from deep in the corner with 3:21 remaining, Brigham Young was ahead to stay. Bantom fanned on his three shots down the stretch, but the Cougars missed five free throws to keep St. Joe in the game. Only some monkey business with the clock prevented the visitors' best shooter, Pat McFarland, from setting up for a good shot at the end. Instead, his interception led to a desperation heave that went wide.
"Bantom as good as any," Cosic said after the game. "I not in shape, tired, no dribble. But St. Joe, they go places." Indeed the Hawk will be flapping high this season at the Palestra, while out in the Utah mountains Kresimir Cosic will he whipping those huge crowds into shape. At Brigham Young, oh boy, nobody throw rock.