Revitalized Tavernari Key to BYU's Success

Jonathan Tavernari shot a combined 4-of-20 from the field in the season's first games against Utah and San Diego State, both three-point victories for the Cougars. Those were the first two games in BYU's current nine-game winning streak.

Since then, the team has continued winning but has done so is a generally more convincing fashion, thanks in part to a revitalized Jonathan Tavernari, who escaped a tough shooting slump that had plagued him during those games and a number of other ones earlier on.

"I know as long as we're playing defense we'll be fine ‘cause somebody's going to score, but I've got to step up and make some shots," Tavernari said.

The team's overall offensive struggles were what Tavernari said accounted for San Diego State giving BYU such a tough time in the Marriott Center earlier in the season.

"We couldn't score," said Tavernari, who admitted that he had a horrible game shooting in the first matchup.

"Our whole focus is winning basketball games on defense, but we've got to make baskets," he added.

That will definitely be key as the Cougars take on the Aztecs in San Diego, where the Cougars are much less likely to be able to overcome a subpar offensive performance than they are when they play at home in the Marriott Center.

The Cougars have had a tough time as of late at SDSU's Cox Arena. When asked what made it such a tough place to play, Tavernari said he personally didn't think it was that tough, as he had a good game there last year.

Indeed, Tavernari led the Cougars in that game with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. Instead of attributing the loss to Cox Arena being a tough environment to play in, he said it was more a case of the team coming out flat.

But Tavernari, who exudes a lot of confidence, said that won't happen again, even going so far as to guarantee that. He said it would be a "completely different game, completely different scenario, completely different feeling, completely different team."

As for overcoming his shooting slump, Tavernari said there wasn't anything really different between when he was struggling and when he started playing well again. He said it just came down to having patience and getting into a rhythm.

"I know I went through a slump," said Tavernari. "Like I said, I didn't want to talk about it because I didn't want to make a bigger deal than it is because it's not about me, it about a team."

Tavernari's improved play can be attributed to more than just his improved scoring as of late; he has also contributed defensively and by snagging rebounds, and has shown some nice passing and some ability to dish out assists. He said he believed that his game was going to develop sooner or later. In fact, he said that one of the reasons he chose BYU was because he felt in his heart that Coach Rose was going to push him to become a better player, and added that all of the coaches on the staff challenge him every day to become better.

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