"I think our success is going to be determined on how we play together," freshman Noah Hartsock said. "We have a bunch of new guys and incoming players. Right now we're still adjusting and getting used to it. We're trying to learn more about how we all fit in together and how we can better develop our strengths while working to fix the things we need to work on. I think the more experience we have will help us."
The team features a combination of players hailing from all different backgrounds.
"We're all from different places," Hartsock said. "Some of us are from junior colleges, or played here last year or are coming off of missions. We're all learning at difference paces and at a different speed as well, but through developing our team during practice from those things we learn in our games, we should be good. It's just more about getting our team on the same page and learning what we need to do better. I think we're making progress."
"I think there are various things that are vital to your team's success," said head coach Dave Rose. "Preseason play is one thing that allows us to further develop our team to play the different styles of basketball that you'll see other teams have. Then there are really big teams that you want to play and beat in order to get your team playing on a national level."
Coach Rose has the task of getting his players to perform with cohesion and making sure their development and overall progress continues.
"Coach Rose is doing a good job," Hartsock said with a smile. "He's had to have a lot of patience with us and he's gotta be patient with us. But it's going well. I can see how he's helped us improve from the beginning of the season to now."
Patience has been the key to the development of these Cougars. The good thing for the basketball program is that the hard work and patience have been paying off this season sooner rather than later. It certainly helps that numerous players on the team have learned patience through various experiences while serving as missionaries. Hartsock and sophomore Jackson Emery, as the two players most recently returned from missions, have no doubt had to exercise patience as they have strived to get back in shape.
"Patience is something that many of these players have learned from the mission field and is something that can be applied to the basketball court if they let it," said Coach Rose. "I think that is how each individual player seems to deal with it. It's okay to be patient in one area, but I'm not going to be patient in another on the basketball floor. It's more of trying to apply it to our game is the key, and I think both Jackson and Hartsock have done well for the most part in that way."
Patience must be a common thread that runs through the team and coaching staff, but it also must be accompanied by hard work.
"I believe the harder your team works, the better success you'll have," Coach Rose said. "I also believe you have to have patience. In that first game you roll the ball out there and want them to play just as well as the last game your team played, which was last year. You got some players that are gone and new players with inexperience. It's a real challenge because you get frustrated. You see thing happen out there that you know just shouldn't happen.
"I was talking about this with my staff. You're watching a lot of basketball all around the country, and you see your team going through a lot of the same frustrations that you see other teams having. You'll see in December a lot of teams getting cleaner, and then in January you'll see some pretty high-level performances and teams executing at a higher level. You have to believe that the harder you work the better you'll get, and then you have to be patient with your players and give them a chance to be as good as they possibly can be. You have to have a lot of patience when you're dealing with those things."