Still work to do

The BCS may care about "style points," but those ultimately don't mean that much in college basketball. That's good, because if college roundball were a beauty contest, BYU would hardly be the belle of the ball right now. Still, BYU's ugly win over USU did show that there is plenty of work to do.

Getting outshot by a very good team by 10 percent is hardly a recipe for victory, but BYU – aided by homecourt advantage – did enough in other key areas to pull out a narrow win over Utah State last Wednesday. It wasn't pretty, but it sure beat losing.

And it all came in only the second game of the season, at a time when the Cougars are still working on their identity and trying to get some new pieces into place and could definitely benefit from some tough lessons.

Coach Rose can't help but notice some similarities between this year and last year.

"I think some of our issues are really similar to the issues we had early in the season last year … I think we can do a better job of spacing the floor, getting the ball from side to side, getting deeper touches in the post – we're getting pushed out a little too far – all those things cause issues with our spacing. Really pleased with the fact that we only turned the ball over nine times, which is good."

Rose noted that they have a lot of things to improve on – including their assist-to-basket ratio and getting better shots with their transition offense – but he emphasized post play more than anything else.

"Our post play defensively, we need to do a lot more work early in the possession so guys don't catch the ball so deep," said Rose. "We need to be more physical in the post defensively. Offensively, we need to do exactly the opposite where we do a lot of work before the catch and we're catching the ball deeper so our spacing's a lot better."

Last Wednesday saw an unusual lineup in which Noah Hartsock started at the five. Rose likes the combination of Chris Collinsworth and Hartsock on the floor at the same time. Collinsworth, Rose said, is their best consistent rebounder, and Hartsock understands their offense and can facilitate it either by scoring himself or distributing the ball without turning it over.

Lost in the big-man shuffle on Wednesday was Brandon Davies, who only played one minute, while James Anderson played 14 minutes. Davies had started the game against Fresno State at the five.

"Well right now, James is actually a guy that we think is a little bit ahead, maybe more because of just his understanding," said Rose.

Rose and his staff evidently saw some matchup issues with Utah State's post players and Davies, but that doesn't mean that Davies will typically see so little action in games.

"It's gonna be a battle here in the next two, three weeks to see how that shapes out as far as the depth chart is concerned," said Rose.

According to Rose, the coaches are looking for more consistency from Davies more than anything. He is trying to figure out his role as a post scorer and facilitator, and needs to work on not having empty plays due to turnovers or other issues.

New kids on the block

Anson Winder is redshirting this year because of the lack of available minutes at the guard positions, and also because his offseason injury set his development back a little bit. But, Rose likes what he has seen from his other two newcomers (not including those that returned from missions).

True freshman Kyle Collinsworth doesn't seem to be too confident in his jump shot, and after missing two free throws against Utah State he seemed to pull up on a fast break moments later, perhaps not wanting to get fouled and go to the line again.

Nevertheless, he's a young player, and Rose likes a lot of what he sees in Kyle.

"We've asked him to do a lot," Rose said about his freshman guard. "We've got him playing a couple positions, but I'm pleased with the way he facilities our offense. I think he brings a dimension to our offense that is different than the other guys. I really like [how] he's a willing passer. He can penetrate, draw people together. He makes an extra pass as well as anybody we've had here, and I think that will really contribute to the cohesiveness of our offense."

Meanwhile, junior college transfer Stephen Rogers came in with the reputation of being a chucker, but only shot once against Utah State. Instead, his real contribution was getting six rebounds, one block, and taking a charge.

"I was really pleased [Wednesday]," said Rose. "I thought Stephen played really, really well. He played hard. What we need him to do is hit some shots, ‘cause that's what he is – he's a great perimeter shooter, can really score from that, and that can really help us. But he's still looking for that first one to go, and I think once that goes it'll kind of get him started. But I thought his effort in the post defensively was terrific, his rebounding was good, and those are all signs, really good signs for adding a player into the depth of our rotation."

Rose compared Rogers' situation to that of Tyler Haws last season, who came in as a great scorer and shooter but ended up taking a little while to get his outside shots to fall.

Haws missed his first 11 three-pointers as a Cougar, but ended up making 25-of-68 (43.8 percent) the rest of the season.


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