BYU hoops thinks more balance can win this year

BYU vs. San Jose State
2011-10-12T21:45:00Z 2013-11-06T21:45:09Z BYU hoops thinks more balance can win this yearJason Franchuk - Daily Herald Daily Herald
October 12, 2011 9:45 pm  • 
Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery are gone. That's certain. 
What remains to be seen is how long it takes BYU's basketball team to help its fans — and definitely the media — stop bringing up last season.
The Cougars met with the media Wednesday leading up the start of the season, which is official with Friday's practice at the Marriott Center.
But players are expressing confidence that leadership and scoring will be there, even if both are spread out over more options.
"I feel like we're ready to create our own stuff," said Stephen Rogers, who should have a considerably bigger role for his second year in the program.
Take away arguably the top backcourt in school history, more specifically the defense of Emery and the the scoring relentlessness of Fredette, and seventh-year head coach Dave Rose said it feels like the start of any other season.
Well, also take away (at least to this point) the wild drama of last year — Jimmer-mania and the Brandon Davies saga — and also add a new league.
"I don't think it's much different at all. The challenge is still the same. As far as trying to put the next team out on the floor, be competitive, compete for championships — that feels pretty familiar," Rose said as his team will begin a voyage to knock off West Coast Conference king Gonzaga and its 11 consecutive regular-season titles.
From the start, BYU expects leadership from a pair of been-there, done-that seniors in Noah Hartsock and Charles Abouo.
Abouo could also be the versatile lock-down defender that Emery became.
Newcomers should help. 
There's Damarcus Harrison, a highly touted freshman from South Carolina.
Davies' expected return, after his March saga with the honor code office and August re-admittance to the school, could play a huge role. Rose expects to return to an inside-outside game to set up open scorers along the perimeter, rather than the work of Fredette from last season — as he attracted constant double-teams and either scored (he led the nation in points) or had a knack for finding an open teammate.
Then there's some intrigue that won't be known until mid-December, when midseason transfer Matt Carlino will be in line to replace Fredette at point guard. Built a little smaller than Fredette, but similarly quiet-mannered and known to love scoring, Carlino will be a mystery Cougar fans should enjoy watching develop. He resided briefly at UCLA before deciding it was a bad fit.
“I think we're going to surprise a lot of people, and it's going to be a good year," said Carlino, who arrived in Provo right around the time Fredette’s fame really took off last February.
Carlino's emergence could be joined by forward Chris Collinsworth, who missed most of last year with a micro-fracture injury to his knee and could take a little while to get back to where he wants to be.
BYU is preaching balance, plus a work ethic and unity learned from last year's team that went 32-5 and marched to its best finish in 30 years: a trip to the Sweet 16.
"I'm not saying that anyone can go for 50 (points) on our team this year. But everyone on this team can learn from last year's team about playing hard every night and bringing it everyday in practice," Carlino said.
∫Speaking of Davies: The junior center was the only Cougar unavailable to media. Rose said it was Davies' choice a few weeks ago to focus on school and preparing for the season. It's believed that it won't be until BYU's first regular-season game that he'll be available for quotes. That's Nov. 11 at Utah State.
"We're excited to have him back. I don't know about other teams. But it's great to see him have a second chance," Noah Hartsock said.
∫Tip-ins: Brock Zylstra revealed that his wife recently gave birth to the couple's first child. ...Rogers actually first planned on attending the University of San Diego – a West Coast Conference member — when he signed out of high school in Arizona. ...BYU lists 17 players on the roster, including nine freshman. 
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Jason Franchuk can be reached at jfranchuk@heraldextra.com

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