A welcome sight for BYU Basketball coaches, players and fans was forward Stephen Rogers on the practice floor Tuesday in Provo--two days ahead of the Cougars' next West Coast Conference game, a road test at Loyola Marymount on Thursday night.
Rogers underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus on December 15th, and was given a recovery window of two to four weeks. A little less than three weeks after the injury, Rogers is back on the floor and pacing to play on Thursday; officially, Rogers is a game-time decision. He did dress but sat out each of the last two games--at St. Mary's, and home to San Diego.
Noting that Rogers practice "a little bit" on Monday and "quite a bit more today," Rose said the junior forward "felt good coming into practice today, which was the best sign, because the soreness is what you worry about."
"We'll see how, after a pretty good workout today, how he feels tomorrow," said Rose. "You can see he's still kind of favoring it, not any pain--maybe that's a mental thing--but he got in practice, made some shots, and I think that encourages everybody, to get him back soon."
You can hear Rose's entire post-practice media session in "Cougar Cuts," above left.
Rogers told me that "for the most part, I was able to do everything" in Monday's first practice back, and that "obviously today (Tuesday), I was able to participate in every drill, and it felt good." Roger said he "woke up today and it felt great, and hopefully it will just get better and better."
"The 'wind' is a process, and will come back eventually, but it just felt good to be out there with the guys and playing again," said Rogers.
Rogers missed a total of six games, with the injury occurring only two days before BYU's high-profile matchup with Baylor on December 17th. "It was terrible" having to miss the game, Rogers told me today.
On what he expects from himself on Thursday in L.A., Rogers said "just to play my best, play my hardest. I know I won't be able to last a long time for a big stretch of the game, but just come in, provide energy and do what I can while I am in there."
Other health-related notes included forward/center Nate Austin missing practice with the flu. "We'd love to have him around, and Nate wanted to be here today to watch film," said Rose after practice. "We just thought 'let's give him another day and get him here tomorrow."
Rose also updated us on forward Chris Collinsworth, who continues to recover from a mid-December surgery to shave back a calcification resultant from micro-fracture knee surgery last winter. The coach says Collinsworth is "actually doing better; the swelling in his knee has gone down...the knee looks a lot better." Rose says "the first ten days after the surgery were really kind of discouraging for him," but that he is now "walking without a lot of pain...he is progressing, but it's quite slowly." Rose said he is not sure when Collinsworth will be able to practice again.
Rose also talked about the team's injury issues from a big-picture standpoint, noting that the health hurdles are "part of the game, and part of trying to put yourself in position to where you're trying to win a championship."
"Things aren't going to go right all the time, and when you have challenges like that, someone else needs to step up, and we've had in that time frame (without Rogers) two or three players really step up, they made a difference, and hopefully that helps us down the road, where we can get a couple more guys with a little more confidence who can help our team."
On facing a Loyola Marymount team that opened WCC play with an overtime win at San Francisco last Saturday, Rose said "it's an interesting scout, because they've had a lot of the same challenges we've had."
"They've had a lot of players who have been out for a game or two--a couple of players who have been out for quite a few games...when you look at their stats...it;s kind of hard to get a read on the team."
Saying "they've got a lot of guys who have had really big games," Rose is preparing for an LMU team that features six players with career scoring highs of 21 points or more, with two players (guard Jarred DuBoise and forward Drew Viney) who have scored 35 or more in a single game.
"What they do really well just naturally, inherently causes us problems," said Rose on Tuesday. "We're going to really have to focus in and execute a game plan, defensively."
BYU has never played a game at LMU's campus home floor at Gersten Pavilion, but I have been on L.A. road trips in the past during which the team has practiced at the Lions' facility.
"It'll be another interesting trip for these guys, as far as just the newness of everything (in the WCC)," Rose says.
hey're a tough team to get a read on.