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Two days ahead of his team's instate set-to at Weber State, BYU head basketball coach Dave Rose on Thursday said his 6-3 squad has "a lot of areas that we can improve upon; we need to play better, and I think our guys know that."
Roughly a quarter of the way through the college hoops season, Rose says his squad has just scratched the surface of its capabilities as it seeks continued improvement.
"I do believe that there's some real potential with this group," said Rose after Thursday's Marriott Center practice. "I believed that from the beginning, and I continue to believe that."
A Rose-coached BYU team has never lost to Weber State, going 7-0 since Rose assumed bench boss responsibilities in 2006-06. Overall, BYU has won nine consecutive games against the Wildcats, and 12 of the last 13 get-togethers.
This year's Weber State team is 4-2 and on a three-game win streak. Included in the win tally is a road decision at Dayton and consecutive home wins over Utah Valley and UC Irvine. Losses came in overtime at San Jose State and at Utah State.
"(Head coach) Randy (Rahe) has got himself a really good team," Rose says. "He's got some really good wins this year, and they play with a lot of confidence, especially there at home. We're looking forward to a real challenge."
"It's usually a great crowd up there for our game; we're excited to go up there and play. Right now Weber State is really playing well...they're on a roll. We need to play well."
The Wildcats have won 20 consecutive home games--the nation's fourth-longest current streak. BYU's last game at the Dee Events Center--on Dec. 21, 2010--saw Jimmer Fredette score 28 points in a 72-66 BYU victory. More than 10,000 fans were in the stands that night--at the time, it was the the largest Weber State home crowd in eight years.
After going with the same starting five for the last three games, BYU may be on the verge of another lineup shakeup. Matt Carlino has come off the bench for the last four games, but is playing much better, while Brock Zylstra is currently slumping as a starter (12 for his last 34 fg, 6 for his last 22 3pfg). Meantime, Carlino and Cusick have recently functioned well together with Carlino at the point and Cusick at shooting guard.
Although Cusick is also in a shooting slump (six for his last 19 fg, five for his last 15 3pfg), playing off the ball allows him to serve as more of a spot-up shooter--a role he fulfilled with the lead-taking triple in Saturday's home win over Utah.
"I think that Matt played well the other night," said Rose, "and what you want to do is continue that string. Sometimes you adjust your starting lineup because guys are maybe struggling a little bit; sometimes you adjust because maybe guys are showing you a little bit more and you want them to start at the beginning."
"Our guard line, I think, as a whole...there's a lot of room for improvement, and so as a coaching staff we'll try to evaluate how we can do that best way we possibly can."
Speaking of Carlino's role in particular, Rose said "there are a lot of things we need from our point guard position, and hopefully we can get some real consistent play from that spot, then we can build from there."
You can hear Rose's entire post-practice interview in "Cougar Cuts," above left.
BYU and Weber State tip it at 7:00pm Saturday; pregame coverage on KSL Newsradio begins at 6:00, following "Cougar Sports Saturday," which starts at noon.
Photo: Courtesy Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo