BYU basketball players signed autographs on the floor at the Marriott Center as highlights and audio blared of BYU's memorable comeback win last March against Iona in the NCAA Tournament.
That time of year seems a long time away, though Cougar coach Dave Rose liked some of what he saw Wednesday, stuff it takes to reach that point.
Namely, the way the team passed the ball — not letting it get "stuck" in hands.
That, and two of BYU's best players produced two of the bigger outings at the Cougar Tipoff.
Tyler Haws, returned from his two-year LDS mission, looked like the same player that took solid shots from the midrange. He had 26 points to lead the "Blue" to an 84-70 win.
The two biggest tidbits were that senior center Brandon Davies, who paced the "White" crew with 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists, didn't play the second half because of a sore back that was a little more tender after two hard falls — including one right before the halftime buzzer.
"I'm feeling great," Davies said. "Just some things that need to heal up."
The Cougars, speaking of healing, also lost a second player for the season. Stephen Rogers has chosen to call it a career as he's never been able to recover from a couple of knee surgeries that were required after a knee injury last season (meniscus tear).
He joins Chris Collinsworth, who recently made a similar move after even harsher knee problems. Because both of those players were in school and on the roster when the semester started, NCAA rules don’t allow the team to redistribute the scholarships.
That leaves Rose's team with 11 scholarship players, though he still has 15 players on the roster (Anson Winder, however, also didn't play in the public scrimmage because of an ankle injury that has hindered him through all 10 practices).
What stands out about the team, Haws said, "is just how competitive everyone is."
"Early in the year it seems like the ball gets stuck a lot...then there's a lot of one-on-one action," Rose said. "I thought we moved the ball well."
BYU compiled 35 assists on 62 baskets, and there were also some astute passes that didn’t get rewarded in the box score.
A concern continues to be 3-point shooting, which Rose has said since the end of last season it must be improved.
The Cougars' two teams combined to shoot 13-of-43 from behind the arc, a mixture of good and bad looks. It was the kind of shooting that put BYU in third place in the West Coast Conference last season, and which made it tough to advance in the NCAA Tournament after beating Iona, then losing to Marquette.
"What I was pleased with," Rose said of the story of the arc, "was we had multiple guys make multiple threes."
Rogers could have been one of those guys, but has never stayed healthy.
Rogers transferred to BYU prior to the 2010-11 season from Mesa (Ariz.) Community College. In his one season there, after a brief stay at Arizona State, he averaged 21.3 points and 5.3 rebounds, hit 85 3-pointers and earned junior college All-America honors. In 2010-11 he helped BYU win a program-record 32 games and earn a trip to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament while averaged 4.1 points and 2.2 rebounds.
Last season Rogers got off to a strong start, averaging 9.9 points and hitting 15 threes in the first 10 games before tearing the meniscus in his right knee. After surgery in December of 2011, he was limited to just eight games due to recurring knee soreness.
Rogers had another operation in April and began rehabbing his knee to prepare for the 2012-13 season. The knee has not responded to treatment and has continued to swell and give Rogers pain, preventing him from returning to full activity with the team.
Rose addressed that issue in a press release and made it clear he would only talk about Rogers and Collinsworth this last time.
The team he has now is what he'll talk about.
Junior-college transfers, forward Agustin Ambrosino and guard Raul Delgado, had moments of style on the "White" team.
Davies has lengthened the range of his jumpshot, joining the distance of backup center Nate Austin.
Haws made 9-of-17 shots, including all three in the second half.
Rose was happy with sophomore starting point guard Matt Carlino, who still hurried some shots like the old days but still made half (7-of-14) of his shots.
"The thing we'll really concentrate with him is there were possessions where he over-dribbled," Rose said. "But those who watch Matt a lot will see a different guy. He's a lot physically stronger. I think he can go in high-energy spurts a lot longer."
Josh Sharp is the early Cougar to watch. Rushed into playing last season, coming into the winter not far removed from a mission, he appears to have his bounciness back. He even threw down a highlight-reel dunk on Ambrosino in the second half.
BYU will get a different kind of competitive look when Southeastern Oklahoma State (Dennis Rodman's alma mater, and a Division II school) visits Provo on Friday (7 p.m.).