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SALT LAKE CITY — With over 35 years of coaching basketball, Dave Rose witnessed an attitudinal transformation that changed from the team to the individual.
By the time Rose retired, which came in March after 14 years as the head coach at BYU, the first priority for many players was personal performance. Winning, he said, did not rank high enough.
"There’s a lot of coaches who are dealing with the same frustrations," said Rose, noting the problem was not unique to BYU.
Sharply dressed and appearing completely at ease with his decision, Rose spoke on a variety of topics during the two hours he spent recently in studio on The Zone Sports Network. Without any rancor or regret, he offered insight into the mindset of current players.
"What I believe is that winning has to be the most important thing for these kids," Rose said. "A lot of them, winning is really important but it’s not the most important thing. The most important thing (for them) is my schedule and how my career is going and what’s best for me and what’s best for my family. That’s what you hear all the time. Somewhere in here, there is a team."
Rose did have good reason to be bitter, considering the amount of turnover that plagued his program in recent years. Apparently not content with their roles, several players transferred out rather than spend time developing.
Complicating the issue, the last three years BYU has lost significant contributors before their eligibility expired. Eric Mika and Elijah Bryant started the alarming trend, playing overseas after failing to make the NBA. Yoeli Childs, who has declared for the NBA draft, is likely to follow a similar route this year.
As a result, BYU has rarely had a strong senior class in recent seasons. Not surprisingly, the program hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament the last four years.
"We had a really hard time of keeping our younger players happy to where they would stay their junior and senior years,” Rose said. “That was always the beauty of BYU — we’d get old and stay old. We always had veteran teams. It was hard for young guys to come in and really play a lot or start their first couple of years."
Illustrating his point, Rose pointed out that Jimmer Fredette did not start as a freshman. Three years later, he led BYU to the Sweet 16 and was national player of the year.
Rose also cited, as an example, the situation involving Payton Dastrup, a touted big man out of Arizona. Returning from a church mission overweight, Dastrup had two lackluster seasons that were more noted for his sideline exuberance rather than production.
Two years ago, Rose said, Dastrup was “all in” when Childs tested his NBA stock during the offseason. After Childs returned to the program, Dastrup transferred to Oregon State.
"I just really believe they want it so fast, and on their schedule," Rose said, "and if it doesn’t happen that way then 'Hey, let’s try it somewhere else.'"
Sticking it out, Rose said, can pay dividends long after basketball ends. He attributes some of his career success to the opportunity to spend three years at the University of Houston.
By way of Dixie College, Rose returned to his hometown to play for Houston, which lost in the national championship game his senior year. Houston featured a roster full of stars, led by Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.
Rose quickly figured out the way to get on the court, which he proudly notes he did every game as a senior.
"You should have seen me play in high school," he said. "I didn’t play any defense in high school. I shot the ball every time I got it. When I was in junior college the coach tried to get me to play a little bit of defense. I always considered myself an offensive player. ... When I got to Houston I wasn’t going to play if I just tried to shoot the ball, so I tried to find another way that I could actually get the coach’s attention and actually get minutes."
All those problems, along with figuring out how to beat Gonzaga, now belong to new coach Mark Pope and his staff. Rose is more interested in packing for an upcoming trip to Hawaii.
Not bad for a coach who started out at Millard High, a fact that doesn’t escape him each time he passes Fillmore on I-15.
"There’s somebody in there coaching right now," the 61-year-old said. "The chances of him being the head coach at BYU probably aren’t that good. That’s where I started, and it really is an amazing story when I look back."