By Robert Weiler
It has not even been a calendar month into the BYU basketball season, but Steve Cleveland?s team has already experienced a season?s worth of growing pains.
For some players, the growing pains have been more painful than others, as seen by six different starting lineups in eight games.
And after a solid win on Wednesday night, Cleveland used the same five players again to get things off on the right foot against Washington State on Saturday.
But following a five-point output from the blue Cougar starters in their 49-46 loss, BYU may need to shake things up again.
Five minutes into the game, BYU?s starting lineup of Jared Jensen, Jimmy Balderson, Terrry Nashif, Mike Hall and Garner Meads had compiled three turnovers, six shot attempts and three points. Luckily for them, the red Cougars had a comparably sluggish start and were only up by two.
Then the cavalry came out from in front of the scorer?s table.
Sophomore guards Austin Ainge and Mike Rose were inserted into the game and led the Cougars on a 20-3 run, the two scoring 17 of those points.
Who scored the other three? Substitutions Derek Dawes and Keena Young.
Back to the backcourt, Ainge and Rose also played for the majority of the second half during the Cougars? abysmal 31 percent shooting performance and poor defense around the 3-point line, but Ainge kept BYU in the game, scoring the teams? last nine points for a career- and team-high 16 points. Ainge also led the team in assists (four), which looks even better next to only one turnover.
?He?s established himself and had some good improvement,? Cleveland said when asked if Ainge would become the new starting point guard.
Ainge said he can see the improvement as well and has had to mature quickly.
?I feel like a veteran, and I?ve only played seven games,? he said.
Jensen stayed on the bench the entire second half for Dawes and freshman Chris Miles, who combined for eight points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
?Jared hasn?t been rebounding, and I needed more rebounding tonight than scoring from the low block,? Cleveland said.
After hitting five 3-pointers as a substitute against USC, Jimmy Balderson?s last two games as a starter have only produced three points.
Cleveland will have a week to decide if there is need for a lineup change again when BYU matches up against Utah State for the second time in three weeks.