Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes
The 2012-13 BYU hoopsters hit the Marriott Center hardwoods under the lights for the first time on Wednesday night, with the Blue outlasting the White by a score of 84-70 in the annual "Cougar Tipoff."
Tyler Haws paced the Blues and led all scorers with 26 points on 9-for-17 shooting, while Brandon Davies led the Whites with 20 points, despite not playing in the second half after taking a hard fall on his lower back right before halftime.
Davies said after the game that "I'm feeling great...I really wanted to play, but Coach (Dave Rose) thought it would be in the best interest of the team to sit out the Blue-and-White game, just for a half."
During Davies' 18 minutes on the floor, he went 8-for-13 from the field, 1-of-2 from the three-point arc and 3-of-4 from the free throw stripe. He added seven rebounds and four assists.
Asked if his long-distance make means he is now a three-point shooter, Davies said "I'm a get-the-ball-in-the-basket guy; that's all I'm trying to work on, and play some 'D.' Open shots, if I'm going to shoot it, make sure it goes in."
Haws, meantime, looked right at home in hitting an array of mid-range jumpers and (of course) all of his free throws. The recently-returned missionary said his first taste of competition after two years away "felt great; it's really good to get back in the Marriott Center and be in this atmosphere again...it's good to be back."
"This team has really good chemistry, on and off the floor," said Haws. "I'm looking forward to Friday." The Cougars' exhibition debut versus SE Oklahoma State can be heard at 7:00pm on KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM, with pregame coverage beginning at 6:00pm.
You can hear post-Cougar Tipoff interviews sessions with Davies, Haws, and head coach Dave Rose, in "Cougar Cuts," above left.
Saying "I'm just excited to get going again," Rose noted that "the one thing I was really pleased with, watching it live, was how we moved the ball. Early in the year, it seems the ball gets stuck a lot in one guy's hands, and there's a lot of one-on-one action. I thought tonight there were very few possessions where the ball got stuck."
The two squads combined for 35 assists (on 62 field goals) to 19 turnovers; the leading assist man was starting point guard Matt Carlino, who added 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting.
Rose said of Carlino's performance that "it's probably right on," in terms of what his nightly expectation might be.
"The thing we'll really concentrate on the possessions where he kind of over-dribbled, got himself into trouble, lost his mind and grabbed (Agustin Ambrosino) after he turned the ball over. That would have been called differently in a real game...so those are all issues we'll deal with."
Rose added that "for those who have watched Matt a lot, I think you can see a different guy. Physically, he's stronger, he can go in really high-energy spurts a lot longer...I'm excited about the potential of our point guard position."
Among the night's highlights was a Josh Sharp dunk over Ambrosino (see below); Rose said "we get a few good dunks at practice, but that one tonight was pretty nice." Davies said "he catches you sleeping, he'll put one on your head."
Coming off a season in which BYU struggled from the arc, the Cougars combined to make 13 of 43 three-point attempts on Wednesday night, for a 30% success rate. Rose, however, found a silver lining to the so-so shooting, saying "what I was pleased with is we had multiple guys make multiple threes (Haws, Carlino, Delgado and Zylstra). That's a good sign for us."
One could safely assume that Davies, Carlino and Haws have locked up starting spots for Friday's exhibition opener. As for the other two "open" spots, at the wing and the power forward positions, Rose said "I would probably just lean to experienced guys."
Referencing the departures of injured returners Chris Collinsworth and Stephen Rogers, Rose said "I won't mention this again, but I'll mention it tonight...we've got some real experience issues, because we've lost a couple of experienced guys."
"When you lose guys off of your roster that are in their fifth year, a junior college all-American (Rogers), and a fourth-year, Gatorade Player of the Year (Collinsworth), you're losing some real talent and real experience. So that's going to be an issue for us early."
"We have two (scholarship) upperclassmen who have actually played a lot, that's Brandon (Davies) and Brock (Zylstra). Raul (Delgado) is a junior who's new, Aguie (Ambrosino) is a junior who's new, and then we've got five sophomores and two freshmen, so that is a young roster."
In typical Rose fashion, the coach then added: "That's the last time we'll talk about that, but that's something we really have to kind of figure out--how we're going to mesh that thing together. We're going to really rely on that sophomore class to give us some real leadership, maybe a little bit sooner than it's their turn to do, but that's what we've got to have."
Of newcomers Delgado and Ambrosino, Rose on Wednesday said that "I saw two guys who are really confident in their ability to play right now. They made a lot of defensive mistakes, a lot of offensive mistakes, but they are confident in their ability to attack and score, and I believe that is the beauty of junior college guys...they can make that transition a little quicker, and we'll need them to do that."
Photo: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News