After an impressive start to the season, including 29 points against Louisville and 18 points against North Carolina, Jonathan Tavernari has struggled to keep up the pace offensively. Against Michigan State, he had only eight points on 3-of-11 shooting. Last season while coming off the bench, Tavernari was the leading freshman scorer during conference play (8.3 points per game), earning him the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year award. On the season he averaged 6.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 12.3 minutes per game. He also led the team in scoring three times and in rebounding two times, and scored in double figures six different times.
Coach Rose said that Tavernari is very consistent in his work ethic, regardless of whether he is playing well or struggling, and that he's real honest with his performance; he knows when he's playing well and knows when he needs to play better.
Tavernari has been criticized for some of his shot selection, and while Coach Rose has said that the staff has worked with Tavernari to improve that, they nevertheless can't completely change who he is.
"There are some players that are much better scorers when they are just in situations that they feel really comfortable with, and that's a shot that he feels real comfortable with," said Coach Rose, referring to a tough turn-around jumper that Tavernari made early against Lamar.
Rose added that the coaching staff must adjust to what the players are comfortable with in regards to the shots they take.
Meanwhile, Coach Rose said that Chris Collinsworth right now is trying to adjust to - and fit in offensively - with what the team needs, something that Rose said is tough to do. He added that Collinsworth will probably become more of an "opportunity scorer" in this system.
When asked about other BYU players that Collinsworth might be comparable to in regards to style of play, Rose said he reminds him of former Cougar forward Eric Nielsen (1997, 2000-02). Collinsworth's attributes, Rose said, include a lot of confidence and a good combination of an inside game and a perimeter game. Rose praised Collinsworth as a good perimeter shooter, and said he is a real skilled four-man who can pass, catch, run, dribble, rebound and break the press.
Against Lamar, Collinsworth demonstrated his perimeter game by hitting a shot from beyond the arc. Rose said that was important for Collinsworth because he already makes a lot of shots in practice, and doing so in a real game will help him become as comfortable in a game-setting as he is in practice.
We Must Protect This House
If the Cougars defeats Pepperdine on Saturday, then they will have won their 37th consecutive home game and will once again own the nation's longest home winning streak. The Cougars briefly took sole ownership of that streak last year after winning at Air Force, a team whose streak was tied with theirs. However, the Memphis Tigers, by virtue of having their conference tournament on their own home court, were able to surpass BYU's streak.
Since taking over the football program, Bronco Mendenhall has repeatedly stressed to his team the important of defending their home territory. However, Coach Rose doesn't seem as concerned about that as Coach Mendenhall does.
"Not that much," answered Rose when asked on if it meant much to him to possibly have the longest home winning streak on Saturday. "It does matter if we win, but not for that reason."
When asked if he could believe that after losing his first actual game as head coach at home, he hasn't lost at home since, Rose said it wasn't something he cared to dwell on.
"I don't look back very much, and I don't look forward at all," said Rose. "When I got the job I didn't look into 37 games down the road, and after we win a game I don't look back on them."
A Different Kind of Rebounding
Coach Rose praised his team's ability to rebound, but wasn't referring to rebounding in the traditional basketball sense.
Instead, Rose was referring to his team's ability to rebound from tough losses. He said he was pleased with how well the team responded following the disappointing defeats against North Carolina and Michigan State.
"I think a lot of it has to do with our coaching staff and our preparation and our approach," said Coach Rose of being able to rebound after tough losses. "But I think the main point is from the leadership within the team [and] from your captains, and you look at the games, especially the game [against Lamar], and Trent [Plaisted] and Lee [Cummard] specifically were terrific in that game, and I think they took it upon themselves to make sure their team was ready to play. Those are important signs."