Cougars Coming Together

The 2009-10 men's basketball season is inching closer and closer, as there is just more than a week until the Cougars open the season against Bradley. Coach Dave Rose and his staff are working to best prepare their team and integrate the newer players before that time arrives. Like a true coach, Rose has liked some of the things he's seen and hasn't been satisfied with other things.

Last week before the team participated in the Cougar Tipoff, Coach Rose praised his team's effort but said he wished they were moving along a little quicker and that their execution needed a lot of work. Don't get too nervous Cougar fans, however, as he did acknowledge that it's that way every year. Rose's teams have come together quite nicely in past years, so it's safe to say things should turn out just fine.

In any event, Rose and his staff are still tinkering around with the team and finding how all the individual pieces fit together. Fortunately, among those pieces are returning starters in Jimmer Fredette, Jonathan Tavernari, Jackson Emery and Chris Miles.

"We're in a situation now where we're trying to play different combinations, different lineups every practice," said Rose, "and the core group of guys as far as Chris and Jimmer and Jackson and JT [has] kinda stayed together, and then we're rotating different groups with them. So I think that the main personality trait of this group [is] they play really, really hard, because I think they know the depth that we have, and hopefully we'll be able to play a lot of guys and we'll be able to play at a really high rate of speed, really intense."

When asked if there were any surprises as far as individual players during camp so far, Rose said that the players have played about how the staff expected them to. He did say, however, that recent additions in true freshmen Brandon Davies and Tyler Haws, transfer Logan Magnusson, and recently returned missionary Brock Zylstra are coming along.

He said "those four guys are really kinda picking things up quick and they've all got pretty good basketball IQs, and that's a good sign as we can get those guys involved as soon as possible."

During practice the team will often be divided up into two teams, the blue team and the white team. The blue team is generally made up of returning starters and more experienced players, while the white team generally consists of the younger and less experienced players. While the blue team regularly had the upper hand during early practices, Rose noted that the gap between the two teams has lessened. In fact, the white team has started to win some drills and competitions.

Tyler Haws

Still, one of those newcomers recently missed some action. Haws sat out some practices and the Cougar Tipoff because of a minor knee injury. And while he is now back and fully participating, missing some time could make things particularly difficult for a true freshman trying to adjust to Division I basketball and an entirely new team.

"Well, I think that the more repetitions you get the more confidence you get, especially in a new system," Rose said, noting how sitting out may have affected Haws.

In other words, Haws may have been affected more mentally than physically. But, Rose doesn't seem too concerned about him falling behind. He pointed out that Monday's practice was the best Haws has looked in a while and that he simply needs to get out on the floor to build up his confidence.

Brandon Davies scores during the Cougar Tipoff

Post Presence

Though the guards are the strength of this year's squad, they'll need the post players to score some points and take some of the heat off of them. When evaluating last week's Cougar Tipoff, Rose singled out the play of his big men.

"What we were really pleased with is our post scoring, scoring the ball. We scored the ball really well, and hopefully that's indicative of our post guys offensively becoming better and more confident and not a sign [that] our post defense isn't very good," he said with a laugh.

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