BYU's basketball team, compared to last season, is getting back to normal.
Coach Dave Rose's first five years were more about scoring balance and fast pace. Last year Jimmer Fredette's scoring, often out of half-court sets, were the anomaly.
"That's kind of the key to this group, is that we need balanced scoring. Noah has been pretty consistent; Charles has been pretty consistent scoring, and then some other guys have been up and down," Rose said referring to senior co-captains Noah Hartsock and Charles Abouo. "They've had big games, and then maybe not as good a game the next time. We need to find multiple players to come in and help us score."
Rose appears to be back to having a stellar sixth man who can provide instant scoring punch, as Stephen Rogers is adapting to that role. The coach, however, wouldn't say that rotation is cemented. He pointed out the Cougars will go through another adjustment period after Saturday's game at Utah.
The team will have a week off until its next game (it's final-exam time on campus during that span) against top 10-ranked Baylor, when transfer Matt Carlino will see his first action.
It's hard to anticipate Carlino starting right now. The combination of Anson Winder and Craig Cusick at point guard has played well enough, especially against Weber State. But Carlino will play against the Bears in a game that starts at noon at the Marriott Center on Dec. 17.
Rose has clearly been pleased with the effort level of the last two games. His post-game happiness has been more abundant after those wins than any of the others, counting the Oregon blowout last weekend in Salt Lake City.
"Right now, I think we are continuing to improve. We get better every day in practice, and the way we played the last couple of games I think has been good, so I think the best thing to do, especially with a team where you rely so much on young players is worry about tomorrow, the next day, and see how you can do. Then worry about the next day after that," Rose said.
The most pleasant surprise has been returned-missionary freshman Nate Austin, who has packed quite the punch to complement Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies inside.
His quick, somewhat unexpected development -- Hartsock quipped after the game that Austin looked like a prime redshirt candidate in the summer -- speaks to the level of depth Rose hoped to achieve considering the great player losses from last season.
"I think Nate Austin has been terrific the last three games, and his confidence and ability to go in and make shots, and obviously Stephen has been good since we put him in that sixth man role, to come in and score. And that's a good night when you can get six guys somewhere between nine and 16 points."
In case you missed it, Utah lost to Cal State-Fullerton at home on Wednesday, 81-50. Yes, by 31 points.
The 1-7 Utes have lost every game since defeating San Diego Christian by three points to start the season. Tipoff against the Cougars at the Huntsman Center is noon on Saturday.
That doesn't bode well for what's turned into a one-sided rivalry series.
Normal for Rose, besides team balance, is beating the Utes.
He is 10-3 against them, winning the last five.
BYU hasn't lost to Utah under Rose since the 2009 overtime defeat at the Huntsman Center. His other two losses came in 2006, his first times facing the rival as a head coach.
Jason Franchuk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow him on Twitter, @harkthefranchuk