Bench Will Be Key as BYU Hits the Road

Wednesday's tilt against Colorado State marks the first of a two-game road stretch for the Cougars, and the start of a stretch where four of the last six games of the regular season will be away from the friendly confines of the Marriott Center. As the Cougars hit the road, they'll rely on a bench that has Coach Rose very pleased.

Even though BYU's remaining road games all come against teams that having losing conference records (Wyoming, Utah and TCU) or against a team in Colorado State that hasn't been competitive against the Cougars in the past several seasons, the Cougars will have to manufacture a way to remain focused and not take anything for granted.

Fortunately, Coach Rose's teams have shown that they can do just that and avoid taking teams too lightly. His teams have a 54-14 record in conference play on the road during the regular season, winning 79 percent of their MWC road games.

Part of that is because Rose makes sure his teams understand how difficult it is to play on the road in the MWC and what it takes to win in those environments.

"Like I said, it will be a real challenge, and anytime you go on the road you want to make sure that your players prepare themselves for a really hard-fought, tough, intense, competitive game," Rose said.

Teams typically get up to play BYU, something Jimmer Fredette implied can sometimes be due to the Cougars "putting it on them" in past matchups, such as they did with Colorado State earlier this season. But BYU will also often draw other teams' biggest and rowdiest home crowds (although the remaining road opponents typically don't have the attendance that teams like UNLV, New Mexico and San Diego State do). However, Fredette said that playing in front of so many sellout crowds, or at least big crowds, doesn't wear on him.

"No, I love it that way. I think it gives you more energy … ‘cause if you're playing in front of [small crowds] a lot of times you have to make your own energy from the bench and everything. But if there's a packed crowd and they're all getting hyped, obviously you're gonna be excited, you're gonna be ready to play."

One thing that will need to be ready to play down the home stretch (or rather, the ‘road stretch') for BYU is the Cougars' bench. According to Rose, the team's bench takes on a whole new role later in the season, as it is even more important to keep the starters fresh and executing at a high level.

Of course, the bench players aren't going in to purely spell the starters, and Rose said they need to perform when they get in games. Earlier in the season Rose said he felt that his bench was really strong, but that it needed to be more consistent. Now, later in the season, it appears that consistency has been found for the most part.

"Well, I think we're playing as well as we've played all year as far as the effort that we get off the bench [and] our execution, and then we've been really efficient off the bench," said Rose. "I mean, we're scoring, we're getting good defensive help, and now we get Brandon [Davies] back, and that will really help us. I was glad we were able to play him a little bit in the [Air Force] game the other night, ‘cause we're gonna really need him on this road trip."

Davies' return will help BYU's post presence and depth. While he was out following his appendectomy the team played a little less through the post, particularly when Chris Miles came out of games, Rose said.

Rose also praised Michael Loyd's play, saying he has been providing a good lift off the bench. With Lamont Morgan still healing after having his knee scoped, Loyd will play an increased role.

Rose said Davies, Loyd and Charles Abouo in particular will be important from here on out.

"I just feel that we have a lot of confidence in our bench and those three guys will be a big key factor down the stretch here."

Of course, one cannot forget Jonathan Tavernari as well, though it is easy to not quite view him as a bench player since he has started so many games in the past and still plays a lot of minutes while playing a big role on the team. In the past two games Tavernari averaged 17.5 points and connected on 59 percent of his shots. When he is on, BYU is that much more dangerous and the hostile road is that much friendlier.

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