BYU Men’s Hoops: Cougars hold last exhibition, Emery won’t play this week
It’s been a little over a month since the BYU men’s basketball team began official practices.
With the Cougar Tipoff and two exhibition games under their belt, the Cougars face Colorado College on Wednesday in their final exhibition and open the season on Saturday at home against Mississippi Valley State.
Dave Rose and his coaching staff have had about five weeks to prepare for the season, and Rose said good progress has been made.
“I think it’s a team that has really grasped our defensive concepts,” Rose said. “I know it’s a real small sampling, but the two nights of team’s shooting threes against us, New Mexico shot way too many but only hit 17 percent. I think we guarded Westminster well from the perimeter, at least in the first half.
That’s a big improvement for our team. That’s by design and I think the guys are adjusting to that very well. Offensively our ability to be efficient, especially on the second and third side of the floor is way better.”
That last part needs a little translation. First side of the floor is the first pass in the offense. Second side is when the ball is reversed and third side is when the ball is reversed again.
“If you look at our first side attempts, we’re shooting in the low 30’s,” Rose said. “If you look at our second and third side attempts, we’re shooting in the 60-percent range. That’s something that is important to us as the season moves along for us to get better in the half-court offense. We’ve always been a good first side team but as the possession gets longer, we’ve not been nearly as efficient.”
Colorado College is a Division II school located in Colorado Springs. The Tigers were 11-15 overall last season but 10-4 in Southern Collegiate Athletic Association play and return its top two scorers in 6-7 senior guard John Hatch (17.5 points per game) and 6-1 senior guard Erick Houska (17.1 ppg).
“They are similar to Westminster,” Rose said. “They have a lot of returning players and a lot of seniors. They are a good team and run good stuff. I’m excited to see how our guys respond to this kind of a game.”
Sophomore guard T.J. Haws said the team is still building chemistry.
“I think it’s just an everyday process,” Haws said. “It’s early in the season and we’re trying to find our groove, find our chemistry with guys. A few of us have played with each other a couple of years, and that helps. I feel like with this team a huge thing we’re trying to do is make the right play. That builds chemistry very quickly. For this offense to work and for us to work it, it takes trusting each other. I feel like that’s coming along great right now.”
Rose said this game will be a good test for his team.
“It’s an important game for a lot of the guys that have played some minutes but have really not played as well as they want to or are capable of, to get comfortable doing that,” Rose said. “It’s also Important for guys who haven’t played a lot of minutes to get some minutes and respond to it.”
Rose said junior guard Nick Emery will not play in Wednesday’s exhibition game or in Saturday’s opener as the program waits for word from the NCAA on his eligibility. Emery is being investigated by the NCAA for alleged improper benefits provided by a booster.
Rose was asked if it was safe to say Emery won’t play again until BYU hears back from the NCAA
His reply: “That’s pretty safe to say. That’s how I understand it. The exhibition games, we knew he could play in. This week I didn’t want to (play Emery). I wanted to get ready for Saturday’s game and there’s no reason to play a guy who’s not going to play, in my opinion. So that’s where we are.”
BYU is already without sophomore center Ryan Andrus, who had knee surgery last month and hasn’t participated in practice. Last Saturday, junior forward Braiden Shaw sprained his ankle. Rose said Shaw won’t be available for this week’s games.