“I think what makes us better this year is our chemistry that we’ve developed from the get-go,” said Winder. “I mean, it had been getting stronger all season and from the season last year. It’s good and we’re gelling well, better than last year. I think we’ve developed a sense of urgency to play for each other, to play as a team, and to play for each other.
“That’s something that we’ve developed and is an aspect that’s going to change this year is our defensive presence. We know we’re going to score a bunch of points, but it’s always better to be able to guard in order to make for better games this year.”
With five seniors in Nate Austin, Skyler Halford, Tyler Haws, Josh Sharp, and Anson Winder, the Cougars will hit the ground running in the 2014-15 season with many of the chemistry kinks worked out. That bodes well for a fast start while teams are looking to develop what the Cougars already have.
“Oh definitely,” Winder said. “There are teams around the country that don’t develop that chemistry until halfway through the season when they’ve kind of gotten on a role. If we hit the ground running with our team chemistry on our backs already I think it will help us in the long run. Then we can focus on different aspects of our game instead of figuring out if we can gel or not and what lineups go together. All that stuff is put behind us and we can go out and win games.”
For Winder, he doesn’t have any personal goals for himself for his final season as a BYU Cougar. Rather, his goals are to ensure the team’s goals are met.
“No personal goals,” said Winder. “I just want to contribute as much as I can to help our team win. Goals for me would be our team goals to win championships. To win our conference, make a tournament, and make a run. Winning as many games as possible is the goal for me.”
He’s confident he and his teammates will accomplish those goals this season.
“I’m extremely confident,” said Winder. “I think we believe in each other and we believe in our system and we believe in our coaches. And we’re ready to hit the ground running. We have five seniors and the experience we need to battle this year, and we have the toughness and the depth to really continue that legacy and win some games this year.”
As for Winder, he simply wants to leave all that has on the court for his final senior season as a BYU Cougar.
“It’s the final go-round,” Winder said. “It’s excited and saddening at the same time, but this is the time of the year that you leave all your chips on the table and hopefully at the end of the day I can say I gave it all that I had.”
Reaching those team goals seems more feasible with the return of junior point guard Kyle Collinsworth. Collinsworth suffered an ACL tear eight months ago. His hard work paid off and he has been cleared to play. The return of Collinsworth is a big boost to the team’s confidence and moral.
“He’s one of the biggest parts of our team and he’s our best rebounder,” said Winder. “He’s one of our best attackers and just a leader. He contributes so much to the different categories of the stat sheet. It just helps our team tremendously and takes our team to a different level. He’s the kind of guy that you want to play with after having been playing with him for years. You he’s a guy that you want to go to battle with every single day.”
Coach Rose and his hoops squad received some additional help with the move of Corbin Kaufusi from the football program to the basketball court. Kaufusi is an active big man who enjoys defending the rim.
“Corbin is just a big defensive presence that we haven’t always had here at BYU,” said Winder. “He’s active big and he can run too. I’m excited to have him down there protecting the pain and just bringing the high energy out there. It’s good to see him out there.”
Cougar Cam: Tyler Haws
Tyler Haws talks about what he tried to develop within his game over the off-season. He talks about what the team learned about the team after their exhibition opener and what they must do to get better. Haws talked about the up and coming game against Seattle Pacific, the return of Kyle Collinsworth, and much more.