Workforce Worries

Nate Crain takes a look at the task faced by Cougar hoops coach Dave Rose in managing an unbalanced roster.

BYU's new men's basketball coach, Dave Rose will have his hands full the next couple weeks and years as he makes personnel decisions that will affect the long-term success of the program. It has been well documented that the basketball program could have as many as nine juniors on the roster next season. When there are only 13 scholarships available, that's too many players in the same class.

Here's a breakdown of how the roster may look:

Sr

Joshua Burgess

6-8

F

Sr

Brock Reichner

6-4

G

Jr

Austin Ainge

6-2

G

Jr

Keena Young

6-6

F

Jr

Jimmy Balderson

6-6

G

Jr

Mike Rose

6-2

G

Jr

Sam Burgess

6-3

G

Jr

Garner Meads

6-8

F

Jr

Derek Dawes

6-11

C

Jr

Rashaun Broadus

6-0

G

Jr

Fernando Malaman

6-9

C/F

Fr

David Burgess

6-10

C

Fr

Trent Plaisted

6-11

F

Fr

Lee Cummard

6-7

G/F

Fr

Jackson Emery

6-3

G

Some of this scholarship bunching has not been the fault of BYU coaches. For example, Mike Rose returned unexpectedly from his mission to take a roster spot this season. In addition, Derek Dawes and Garner Meads have suffered pre-season injuries in recent years that forced the coaches to redshirt them.

But to be fair, the coaches have made a few choices that contributed to the junior logjam. For example, Steve Cleveland pulled Jimmy Balderson's redshirt out of desperation this season. In hindsight this was a poor move considering the team ended up at 9-21. Also, the choice to recruit two junior college sophomores at the same time in Keena Young and Sam Burgess when there was already a glut of sophomores on the roster may cost BYU in the long run.

BYU has caught one break in that the NCAA has repealed the rule that restricted each team to sign five new prospects per year and eight over a two-year period. Last year BYU actually signed six new players in David Burgess, Sam Burgess, Chris Miles, Trent Plaisted, Joshua Reisman and Young. That would have left BYU with only three scholarships to give this season. But without the rule, BYU can now sign as many players as there are scholarships available – which would be four.

Lee Cummard's situation may also have affected this season's recruiting strategy. He too returned early from his mission, and will be taking one of those available scholarships for next season. From many reports, Cummard will likely have a greater impact than nearly any JC player BYU could have signed.

Point guard Rashaun Broadus from Western Nebraska JC will take up another of this season's scholarships. Based on last year's guard play, it's hard to fault Rose for signing an immediate impact player despite his junior status.

A third available scholarship for next season will be used to find immediate JC help in the post. Rose hopes to have found that help in Brazilian power forward, Fernando Malaman. Without knowing beforehand what kind of impact either Plaisted or David Burgess will make on next year's team, a legitimate post presence is sorely needed.

At least BYU signed one high school player in guard Jackson Emery of Lone Peak. But since Emery has mission plans, he may not contribute for several years. This will always be the challenge of planning the BYU sports programs.

If all eight or nine potential juniors graduate in two years, BYU will paint themselves into a corner. They'll witness a mass exodus after the 2006-07 season. To put it mildly, allowing all eight or nine players to graduate at the same time would devastate the program. For this reason, BYU needs to start considering its options.

To alleviate this glut of junior players, Coach Rose may be forced to redshirt some of the players who have them available namely Balderson, Sam Burgess, Rose, Young and/or the JC recruits. The problem with this approach is that it would eliminate the availability of at least a couple of contributing players and there would be very few available scholarships for the 2006-07 season, although Plaisted may go on a mission.

A more viable approach may be to encourage those players not meeting expectations to leave the program a la Jesse Pinegar and Shawn Opunui a few years ago. This approach is enticing because it would allow Rose to recruit better players who could better balance out the young and experienced players in the program. All these decisions may need to be made in the near future.

Oh, and while he is dealing with these personnel issues, Rose is expected to actually win games. All the fans ask is that he gets the scholarship situation at BYU under control, wins the Mountain West Conference, takes the Cougars back to the NCAA tournament, and win a tournament game on occasion. Hopefully, he's up for the challenge.

Good luck coach!


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