On Thursday of a week that had the members of the coaching staff out recruiting and the players enjoying an earlier day off, BYU head coach Dave Rose previewed his team's Saturday showdown with Santa Clara, noting that "it seems like a long time since we played."
With seven days between games, Rose gave his players an off day Tuesday, while coaches scattered to get done some in-season recruiting. The team practiced Monday, Wednesday and again Thursday, prepping for a Broncos squad that according to Rose features a "special group of guards," led by the West Coast Conference's leading scorer in junior Kevin Foster, who already holds the school record for three-pointers made, with an even 300 (on 824 attempts; by comparison, Jimmer Fredette holds BYU's career marks with 296 3pfg on 752 3pfga).
"That's a pretty special guy," said Rose Thursday. "They recruit to (three-point shooting), and they play for it when they're out there, on almost every possession."
While only 68th nationally in three-point percentage (at 37%), Santa Clara is 9th nationally in three-point field goals per game (at 9.0). Foster is 5th nationally, averaging 3.5 triples per contest.
"That will be our challenge; kind of run them off the three, and try to (make them) shoot contested twos," said Rose.
About Foster, Rose said "he's just a great scorer; you can do a great job on him, get him to take the shot you want him to take, and he's really capable of making it. He's one of quite a few challenges that this team brings."
You can hear all of Rose's post-practice comments in "Cougar Cuts," above left.
BYU is 14-4 on the season, 3-1 in the WCC, and "I think we get more confidence every week," said Rose.
"Confidence is the key with a young team, and I'm really pleased with Noah (Hartsock), Brandon (Davies), Charles (Abouo) and Brock (Zylstra)...for the returning experienced guys to play as consistently as they have, to help our younger guys to come through."
"Now we're at the point where we need to be more consistent as a group. We've found ways to win; we've found guys who have stepped up every night, now hopefully we can get consistent play from eight or nine players and then continue to get better as a group instead of just kind of trying to figure out who's going to play well that night...we can depend on each other a bit more."
Thursday night in the WCC includes a pair of games on the ESPN family of networks, with Loyola Marymount at Pepperdine on ESPNU and the nation's marquee game pitting Gonzaga and St. Mary's at McKeon Pavilion on ESPN2. Rose, however, said the game that will get most of his attention will be a non-televised affair in the Bay Area.
"The most important game is San Diego at Santa Clara; those are our next two opponents," said Rose. As for the game in Moraga, Rose said "if St. Mary's plays like they played against us, they'll be really hard to beat...but Gonzaga's been in there quite a few times, and they've had pretty good success."
"With it being on a national stage, it's good for our league and it's good for us and we'll kind of watch, sitting back tonight, then jump right back into it tomorrow."
BYU and Santa Clara can be heard on KSL Radio (102.7 FM and 1160 AM) and BYU Radio (SiriusXM 143) Saturday at 6:00pm, with pregame coverage starting at 5:00pm--right after "Cougar Sports Saturday," which begins at noon.