3 Business Lessons Learned from BYU’s Record Comeback Against Iona

March 15, 2012
Brigham Young University’s men’s basketball team came back from a 25-point deficit to win their game against Iona College on March 13, 2012, marking the biggest comeback in NCAA tournament history. Was that luck or skill? BYU men's basketball player Noah Hartsock, Fishbowl Inventory BlogMost of the time when a basketball team finds itself in a situation where they’re down by two-dozen points, they aren’t able to score a victory. They’ve fallen too far, and they don’t have the time or mindset to turn the tide. So what is it that makes the difference for a team like BYU in this instance? It’s not necessarily that they’re the best team in the NCAA or that they are an unstoppable scoring machine. If that was the case, they probably wouldn’t have gotten into such a dangerous spot in the first place. Luck may play a factor in this victory, but it’s certainly not the driving force behind it. I believe the secret of BYU’s success is a combination of three things:
  • Changing their strategy to fit the situation
  • Shutting down their opposing team’s offense
  • Stepping up their offense to live up to their potential
All three of these things apply to businesses, so I’d like to show how you can make it look like you’re unbelievably lucky when you’re actually exceptionally prepared.

New Strategy

After the first half, BYU knew they needed to change quite a few things if they wanted to get back in the game. So they took the unorthodox move of benching their Point Guard and Shooting Guard in favor of less-proven players. And that turned out to be the right call because the players they put in proved crucial in helping the team win. Sometimes you’ll find that what you’re doing in your business just isn’t working. Your competitors are snatching customers away, you’re losing revenue, and you’re not running as efficiently as you would like to. Something’s gotta give. You need to rethink your business strategy from the ground up and try things that would ordinarily seem crazy.


The first thing BYU had to do was stop Iona from scoring the way they had in the first half. After all, if you don’t stop a leak in your boat, it won’t matter how much water you dump over the side; you’ll continue to take on more water than you’re getting rid of. Start talking to your customers, and figure out what you’re doing well and what issues you need to address. That way, you can stem the flow of leads and customers who you fail to hold on to. Then you can turn your attention to your competitors’ weaknesses. Look for pain points that other companies aren’t addressing and start fulfilling them in your own unique ways.


BYU started scoring like crazy in the second half, grabbing more than a dozen rebounds and scoring on almost every possession. They found their groove and took full advantage of every opportunity to score that they could find. This reminds me of another great story I once heard. Steven Spielberg got his big break in 1975 when he directed the big-budget movie Jaws. It wasn’t luck that the promising young director scored that career-making opportunity. He had been making low-budget films for years, and some of them were actually quite good: Duel and Sugarland Express, for example. So when the Jaws producers went looking for a talented filmmaker to direct their picture, Spielberg was able to make a persuasive case that he was the man for the job. As I’ve often heard, it takes a long time and a lot of hard work to become an overnight success. Don’t wait for your big moment to come. Start creating your own little successes so you’ll be experienced and ready when the time comes to do something great. Luck favors the prepared. So start preparing by using inventory management software to plug holes in your business’ finances and place yourself in a better position to beat the competition.