LLOYD: Tipoff marks exciting time for Cougar hoops

2011-10-26T21:47:00Z 2013-11-06T21:45:10Z LLOYD: Tipoff marks exciting time for Cougar hoopsJared Lloyd - Daily Herald Daily Herald
October 26, 2011 9:47 pm  • 

For the the first time in the last couple of years, BYU men's basketball fans walked into the Marriott Center Wednesday night not expecting to see Jimmer Fredette.

Jimmer actually was there - he's still waiting to see what happens with the NBA lockout - but he didn't have much opportunity to wow the Cougar faithful from where he sat in street clothes behind the bench of the White team.

Instead, it was a combination of old and new faces that wore the blue and the white BYU uniforms for the annual Cougar Tipoff.

Yes, college basketball is almost here.

The two teams that battled to the 74-71 victory for the Blue team will be barely recognizable in a few weeks. The team will get more refined, the conditioning will continue to improve, the situations will intensify when the regular season roles around.

But for now, just being on the floor, hearing the shouts from the fans and playing the game they love was a great experience for the players.

"It was a lot of fun tonight," said BYU senior Noah Hartsock. "It's great to be back in front of the crowd. Sometimes you get into the practice routine and it's nice to play a game with referees in a controlled environment. It's going to help us get ready for Saturday and for the season."

As you would expect, there were flashes of brilliance, such as senior guard/forward Charles Abouo throwing down a pair of big dunks for the blue, junior guard Brock Zylstra knocking down three 3-pointers and junior forward Brandon Davies going to work down low.

There were also moments that showed that the Cougars still have a long ways to go, like the number of open layups and dunks that were missed, the blown defensive assignments and the mediocre free throw shooting (62.2 percent).

But this was more about atmosphere, about feel, than about being as exact as BYU will need to be when it starts the regular season at Utah State.

For Cougar redshirt freshman forward Josh Sharp, the just that chance to be back on the floor was exhilarating.

"It's so nice," he said. "After redshirting as a freshman at Utah, I haven't played in a setting like this in years. It felt so good."

He said he would've liked to have performed better but he also thought the team showed some things about what it can do.

Cougar head coach Dave Rose said it's tough trying to watch both sides since it's hard to gauge whether to be pleased or disappointed.

"When the offense scores, I'm upset with the defense but when they don't score, I'm upset at the offense," Rose said.

But he also got a big smile on his face when he was asked about what it's like to get this point of the year with the season just around the corner.

"This is the best time," Rose said. "You wait all summer and fall, you go through spring, but then you finally get to the point where you know what you are doing and the schedule is set. You go to practice, take the film home and evaluate it and try to get guys better.

"The guys like it when you get to the point that you are playing games and that does make it quicker to evaluate, but I like this time when you are putting a team together. You are getting them to have confidence in the group, to believe in themselves and to believe in each other. It's a fun time."

BYU certainly faces some question marks and Wednesday's glorified scrimmage didn't provide many answers. Rose was quick to say that his squad has "a long way to go before it is a good basketball team."

But the question of what the Cougars become this season still has months to be evaluated.

For today, it's just the beginning of a ride that BYU hopes will last late into March.

Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or jlloyd@heraldextra.com. He can also be followed on Twitter at @JaredrLloyd.



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